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Setting the Trap: Capturing and Defeating Backdoors in Pretrained Language Models through Honeypots

Ruixiang (Ryan) Tang · Jiayi Yuan · Yiming Li · Zirui Liu · Rui Chen · Xia Hu

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1616
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Tue 12 Dec 3:15 p.m. PST — 5:15 p.m. PST


In the field of natural language processing, the prevalent approach involves fine-tuning pretrained language models (PLMs) using local samples. Recent research has exposed the susceptibility of PLMs to backdoor attacks, wherein the adversaries can embed malicious prediction behaviors by manipulating a few training samples. In this study, our objective is to develop a backdoor-resistant tuning procedure that yields a backdoor-free model, no matter whether the fine-tuning dataset contains poisoned samples. To this end, we propose and integrate an \emph{honeypot module} into the original PLM, specifically designed to absorb backdoor information exclusively. Our design is motivated by the observation that lower-layer representations in PLMs carry sufficient backdoor features while carrying minimal information about the original tasks. Consequently, we can impose penalties on the information acquired by the honeypot module to inhibit backdoor creation during the fine-tuning process of the stem network. Comprehensive experiments conducted on benchmark datasets substantiate the effectiveness and robustness of our defensive strategy. Notably, these results indicate a substantial reduction in the attack success rate ranging from 10\% to 40\% when compared to prior state-of-the-art methods.

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