Abstract: Gradient inversion attack enables recovery of training samples from model gradients in federated learning (FL), and constitutes a serious threat to data privacy. To mitigate this vulnerability, prior work proposed both principled defenses based on differential privacy, as well as heuristic defenses based on gradient compression as countermeasures. These defenses have so far been very effective, in particular those based on gradient compression that allow the model to maintain high accuracy while greatly reducing the effectiveness of attacks. In this work, we argue that such findings underestimate the privacy risk in FL. As a counterexample, we show that existing defenses can be broken by a simple adaptive attack, where a model trained on auxiliary data is able to invert gradients on both vision and language tasks.
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