Blackbox Attacks on Reinforcement Learning Agents Using Approximated Temporal Information

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Zhao, Y 
Shumailov, I 
Cui, H 
Gao, X 

Recent research on reinforcement learning (RL) has suggested that trained agents are vulnerable to maliciously crafted adversarial samples. In this work, we show how such samples can be generalised from White-box and Grey-box attacks to a strong Black-box case, where the attacker has no knowledge of the agents, their training parameters and their training methods. We use sequence-to-sequence models to predict a single action or a sequence of future actions that a trained agent will make. First, we show our approximation model, based on time-series information from the agent, consistently predicts RL agents' future actions with high accuracy in a Black-box setup on a wide range of games and RL algorithms. Second, we find that although adversarial samples are transferable from the target model to our RL agents, they often outperform random Gaussian noise only marginally. This highlights a serious methodological deficiency in previous work on such agents; random jamming should have been taken as the baseline for evaluation. Third, we propose a novel use for adversarial samplesin Black-box attacks of RL agents: they can be used to trigger a trained agent to misbehave after a specific time delay. This appears to be a genuinely new type of attack. It potentially enables an attacker to use devices controlled by RL agents as time bombs.

Reinforcement Learning, Adversarial Machine Learning
Journal Title
Proceedings - 50th Annual IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks, DSN-W 2020
Conference Name
2020 50th Annual IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks Workshops (DSN-W)
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