Keywords: backdoor defense, backdoor removal, backdoor, minimax, implicit hypergradient
Abstract: We propose a minimax formulation for removing backdoors from a given poisoned model based on a small set of clean data. This formulation encompasses much of prior work on backdoor removal. We propose the Implicit Backdoor Adversarial Unlearning (I-BAU) algorithm to solve the minimax. Unlike previous work, which breaks down the minimax into separate inner and outer problems, our algorithm utilizes the implicit hypergradient to account for the interdependence between inner and outer optimization. We theoretically analyze its convergence and the generalizability of the robustness gained by solving minimax on clean data to unseen test data. In our evaluation, we compare I-BAU with six state-of-art backdoor defenses on eleven backdoor attacks over two datasets and various attack settings, including the common setting where the attacker targets one class as well as important but underexplored settings where multiple classes are targeted. I-BAU's performance is comparable to and most often significantly better than the best baseline. Particularly, its performance is more robust to the variation on triggers, attack settings, poison ratio, and clean data size. Moreover, I-BAU requires less computation to take effect; particularly, it is more than $13\times$ faster than the most efficient baseline in the single-target attack setting. Furthermore, it can remain effective in the extreme case where the defender can only access 100 clean samples---a setting where all the baselines fail to produce acceptable results.
One-sentence Summary: A minimax formulation of backdoor removal and an implicit gradient-based solver surpasses the state-of-art methods' best results in higher efficacy, efficiency, robustness to variations in triggers, settings, poison ratio, and clean data size.
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