Attention-Guided Backdoor Attacks against TransformersDownload PDF

Published: 01 Feb 2023, Last Modified: 13 Feb 2023Submitted to ICLR 2023Readers: Everyone
Keywords: Natural Language Processing, Transformer, Backdoor Attack, Trojan Attack, Trojan Attention Loss
TL;DR: We propose a novel Trojan Attention Loss, which enhances the Trojan behavior by directly manipulating the attention pattern.
Abstract: With the popularity of transformers in natural language processing (NLP) applications, there are growing concerns about their security. Most existing NLP attack methods focus on injecting stealthy trigger words/phrases. In this paper, we focus on the interior structure of neural networks and the Trojan mechanism. Focusing on the prominent NLP transformer models, we propose a novel Trojan Attention Loss (TAL), which enhances the Trojan behavior by directly manipulating the attention pattern. Our loss significantly improves the attack efficacy; it achieves better successful rates and with a much smaller poisoning rate (i.e., a smaller proportion of poisoned samples). It boosts attack efficacy for not only traditional dirty-label attacks, but also the more challenging clean-label attacks. TAL is also highly compatible with most existing attack methods and its flexibility enables this loss easily adapted to other backbone transformer models.
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