Defending Against Adversarial Samples Without Security through Obscurity

Wenbo Guo, Qinglong Wang, Kaixuan Zhang, Alexander G. Ororbia, Sui Huang, Xue Liu, C. Lee Giles, Lin Lin, Xinyu Xing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Scopus citations


It has been recently shown that deep neural networks (DNNs) are susceptible to a particular type of attack that exploits a fundamental flaw in their design. This attack consists of generating particular synthetic examples referred to as adversarial samples. These samples are constructed by slightly manipulating real data-points that change 'fool' the original DNN model, forcing it to misclassify previously correctly classified samples with high confidence. Many believe addressing this flaw is essential for DNNs to be used in critical applications such as cyber security. Previous work has shown that learning algorithms that enhance the robustness of DNN models all use the tactic of 'security through obscurity'. This means that security can be guaranteed only if one can obscure the learning algorithms from adversaries. Once the learning technique is disclosed, DNNs protected by these defense mechanisms are still susceptible to adversarial samples. In this work, we investigate by examining how previous research dealt with this and propose a generic approach to enhance a DNN's resistance to adversarial samples. More specifically, our approach integrates a data transformation module with a DNN, making it robust even if we reveal the underlying learning algorithm. To demonstrate the generality of our proposed approach and its potential for handling cyber security applications, we evaluate our method and several other existing solutions on datasets publicly available, such as a large scale malware dataset and MNIST and IMDB datasets. Our results indicate that our approach typically provides superior classification performance and robustness to attacks compared with state-of-art solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2018 IEEE International Conference on Data Mining, ICDM 2018
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781538691588
StatePublished - Dec 27 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event18th IEEE International Conference on Data Mining, ICDM 2018 - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: Nov 17 2018Nov 20 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE International Conference on Data Mining, ICDM
ISSN (Print)1550-4786


Conference18th IEEE International Conference on Data Mining, ICDM 2018


  • Adversarial deep learning
  • Data transformation
  • Malware detection
  • Security through obscurity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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