Generating adversarial programs

A differentiable generator of adversarial computer programs which can deceive ML models trained on computer programs

Tags: papers ml-for-plse program-representation minmax-optimization constrained-decoding adversarial-nlp 

  1. ICLR-2021
    Generating Adversarial Computer Programs using Optimized Obfuscations
    Srikant, Shashank, Liu, Sijia, Mitrovska, Tamara, Chang, Shiyu, Fan, Quanfu, Zhang, Gaoyuan, and O’Reilly, Una-May
    arXiv 2020


Machine Learning (ML) for Programming Languages (PL)/Software Engineering (SE), Adversarial computer programs, Program obfuscation, Combinatorial optimization, Differentiable program generator, Models for code


Machine learning (ML) models that learn and predict properties of computer programs are increasingly being adopted and deployed. These models have demonstrated success in applications such as auto-completing code, summarizing large programs, and detecting bugs and malware in programs.

In this work, we investigate principled ways to adversarially perturb a computer program to fool such learned models, and thus determine their adversarial robustness. We use program obfuscations, which have conventionally been used to avoid attempts at reverse engineering programs, as adversarial perturbations. These perturbations modify programs in ways that do not alter their functionality but can be crafted to deceive an ML model when making a decision.

We provide a general formulation for an adversarial program that allows applying multiple obfuscation transformations to a program in any language. We develop first-order optimization algorithms to efficiently determine two key aspects – which parts of the program to transform, and what transformations to use. We show that it is important to optimize both these aspects to generate the best adversarially perturbed program. Due to the discrete nature of this problem, we also propose using randomized smoothing to improve the attack loss landscape to ease optimization.

We evaluate our work on Python and Java programs on the problem of program summarization.

We show that our best attack proposal achieves a improvement over a state-of-the-art attack generation approach for programs trained on a \textsc{seq2seq} model. We further show that our formulation is better at training models that are robust to adversarial attacks.

This is joint work with Sijia Liu, Shiyu Chang, Quanfu Fan, Gaoyuan Zhang from MIT-IBM AI Lab, and Tamara Mitrovska, Una-May O’Reilly from CSAIL, MIT. This work will appear in ICLR 2021.



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