Keywords: Adversarial Robustness, Graph Neural Networks, Adaptive Attacks
TL;DR: Adaptive evaluation reveals that most examined adversarial defenses for GNNs show no or only marginal improvement in robustness
Abstract: A cursory reading of the literature suggests that we have made a lot of progress in designing effective adversarial defenses for Graph Neural Networks (GNNs). Yet, the standard methodology has a serious flaw – virtually all of the defenses are evaluated against non-adaptive attacks leading to overly optimistic robustness estimates. We perform a thorough robustness analysis of 7 of the most popular defenses spanning the entire spectrum of strategies, i.e., aimed at improving the graph, the architecture, or the training. The results are sobering – most defenses show no or only marginal improvement compared to an undefended baseline. We advocate using custom adaptive attacks as a gold standard and we outline the lessons we learned from successfully designing such attacks. Moreover, our diverse collection of perturbed graphs forms a (black-box) unit test offering a first glance at a model's robustness.