Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC) 2022

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AFLGuard: Byzantine-robust Asynchronous Federated Learning

Federated learning (FL) is an emerging machine learning paradigm, in which clients jointly learn a model with the help of a cloud server. A fundamental challenge of FL is that the clients are often heterogeneous, e.g., they have different computing powers, and thus the clients may send model updates to the server with substantially different delays. Asynchronous FL aims to address this challenge by enabling the server to update the model once any client's model update reaches it without waiting for other clients' model updates. However, like synchronous FL, asynchronous FL is also vulnerable to poisoning attacks, in which malicious clients manipulate the model via poisoning their local data and/or model updates sent to the server. Byzantine-robust FL aims to defend against poisoning attacks. In particular, Byzantine-robust FL can learn an accurate model even if some clients are malicious and have Byzantine behaviors. However, most existing studies on Byzantine-robust FL focused on synchronous FL, leaving asynchronous FL largely unexplored. In this work, we bridge this gap by proposing AFLGuard, a Byzantine-robust asynchronous FL method. We show that, both theoretically and empirically, AFLGuard is robust against various existing and adaptive poisoning attacks (both untargeted and targeted). Moreover, AFLGuard outperforms existing Byzantine-robust asynchronous FL methods.

Minghong Fang
The Ohio State University

Jia Liu
The Ohio State University

Neil Zhenqiang Gong
Duke University

Elizabeth S. Bentley
Air Force Research Laboratory

Paper (ACM DL)



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