We develop and study new adversarial perturbations that enable an attacker to
gain control over decisions in generic Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems
including deep learning neural networks. In contrast to adversarial data
modification, the attack mechanism we consider here involves alterations to the
AI system itself. Such a stealth attack could be conducted by a mischievous,
corrupt or disgruntled member of a software development team. It could also be
made by those wishing to exploit a “democratization of AI” agenda, where
network architectures and trained parameter sets are shared publicly. Building
on work by [Tyukin et al., International Joint Conference on Neural Networks,
2020], we develop a range of new implementable attack strategies with
accompanying analysis, showing that with high probability a stealth attack can
be made transparent, in the sense that system performance is unchanged on a
fixed validation set which is unknown to the attacker, while evoking any
desired output on a trigger input of interest. The attacker only needs to have
estimates of the size of the validation set and the spread of the AI’s relevant
latent space. In the case of deep learning neural networks, we show that a one
neuron attack is possible – a modification to the weights and bias associated
with a single neuron – revealing a vulnerability arising from
over-parameterization. We illustrate these concepts in a realistic setting.
Guided by the theory and computational results, we also propose strategies to
guard against stealth attacks.

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