Keywords: adversarial attacks, adversarial bandits, target action, sublinear cumulative attack cost
Abstract: We study a security threat to adversarial multi-armed bandit, in which an attacker perturbs the loss or reward signal to control the behavior of the victim bandit player. We show that the attacker is able to mislead any no-regret adversarial bandit algorithm into selecting a suboptimal target action in every but sublinear (T−o(T )) number of rounds, while incurring only sublinear (o(T)) cumulative attack cost. This result implies critical security concern in real-world bandit-based systems, e.g., in online recommendation, an attacker might be able to hijack the recommender system and promote a desired product. Our proposed attack algorithms require knowledge of only the regret rate, thus are agnostic to the concrete bandit algorithm employed by the victim player. We also derived a theoretical lower bound on the cumulative attack cost that any victim-agnostic attack algorithm must incur. The lower bound matches the upper bound achieved by our attack, which shows that our attack is asymptotically optimal.
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