Leveraging Optimization for Adaptive Attacks on Image Watermarks
Primary Area: societal considerations including fairness, safety, privacy
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Keywords: watermarking, adaptive attacks, optimization, stable diffusion
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TL;DR: We leverage optimization to break five image watermarks for Stable Diffusion models using adaptive, learnable attacks.
Abstract: Untrustworthy users can misuse image generators to synthesize high-quality deepfakes and engage in online spam or disinformation campaigns. Watermarking deters misuse by marking generated content with a hidden message, enabling its detection using a secret watermarking key. A core security property of watermarking is robustness, which states that an attacker can only evade detection by substantially degrading image quality. Assessing robustness requires designing an adaptive attack for the specific watermarking algorithm. A challenge when evaluating watermarking algorithms and their (adaptive) attacks is to determine whether an adaptive attack is optimal, i.e., it is the best possible attack. We solve this problem by defining an objective function and then approach adaptive attacks as an optimization problem. The core idea of our adaptive attacks is to replicate secret watermarking keys locally by creating surrogate keys that are differentiable and can be used to optimize the attack's parameters. We demonstrate for Stable Diffusion models that such an attacker can break all five surveyed watermarking methods at negligible degradation in image quality. These findings emphasize the need for more rigorous robustness testing against adaptive, learnable attackers.
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Submission Number: 2831