Kick Bad Guys Out! Zero-Knowledge-Proof-Based Anomaly Detection in Federated Learning


Federated learning (FL) systems are vulnerable to malicious clients that submit poisoned local models to achieve their adversarial goals, such as preventing the convergence of the global model or inducing the global model to misclassify some data. Many existing defense mechanisms are impractical in real-world FL systems, as they require prior knowledge of the number of malicious clients or rely on re-weighting or modifying submissions. This is because adversaries typically do not announce their intentions before attacking, and re-weighting might change aggregation results even in the absence of attacks. To address these challenges in real FL systems, this paper introduces a cutting-edge anomaly detection approach with the following features: i) Detecting the occurrence of attacks and performing defense operations only when attacks happen; ii) Upon the occurrence of an attack, further detecting the malicious client models and eliminating them without harming the benign ones; iii) Ensuring honest execution of defense mechanisms at the server by leveraging a zero-knowledge proof mechanism. We validate the superior performance of the proposed approach with extensive experiments.

Under submission
Qifan Zhang
Qifan Zhang
Ph.D. candidate

Qifan Zhang (张起帆) is now a 4th-year Ph.D. candidate in Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science of University of California, Irvine with focus on Computer Security, advised by Prof. Zhou Li. His research interests include Network Security, especially Domain Name System (DNS), and Machine Learning Security and Privacy. Before that, he received his B.Eng. degree in Computer Science and Technology from ShanghaiTech University in 2020, with an interim summer session in University of California, Berkeley in 2017.

Pronunciation of his name: Chee-Fan Jang.
His Curriculum Vitae (last updated on May 25, 2024)