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Free-rider Attacks on Model Agregation in Federated Learning

Abstract : Free-rider attacks against federated learning consist in dissimulating participation to the federated learning process with the goal of obtaining the final aggregated model without actually contributing with any data. This kind of attacks is critical in sensitive applications of federated learning, where data is scarce and the model has high commercial value. We introduce here the first theoretical and experimental analysis of free-rider attacks on federated learning schemes based on iterative parameters aggregation, such as FedAvg or Fed-Prox, and provide formal guarantees for these attacks to converge to the aggregated models of the fair participants. We first show that a straightforward implementation of this attack can be simply achieved by not updating the local parameters during the iterative federated optimization. As this attack can be detected by adopting simple countermeasures at the server level, we subsequently study more complex disguising schemes based on stochastic updates of the free-rider parameters. We demonstrate the proposed strategies on a number of experimental scenarios, in both iid and non-iid settings. We conclude by providing recommendations to avoid free-rider attacks in real world applications of federated learning, especially in sensitive domains where security of data and models is critical.
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Preprints, Working Papers, ...
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Contributor : Yann Fraboni <>
Submitted on : Friday, February 12, 2021 - 1:30:24 PM
Last modification on : Monday, March 29, 2021 - 12:59:43 PM


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  • HAL Id : hal-03123638, version 1


Yann Fraboni, Richard Vidal, Marco Lorenzi. Free-rider Attacks on Model Agregation in Federated Learning. 2021. ⟨hal-03123638⟩



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