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Information leakage in machine learning models

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posted on 28.03.2022, 18:33 authored by Shakila Mahjabin Tonni
Machine Learning (ML) techniques are used by most data-driven organisations to extract insights. In addition, Machine-learning-as-a-service (MLaaS), where models are trained on potentially sensitive user data and then queried by external parties are becoming a reality. However, recently, these systems have been shown to be vulnerable to Membership Inference Attacks (MIA), where a target's data can be inferred to belong or not to the training data. While the key factors for the success of MIA have not been fully understood, existing defences mechanisms only consider the model-specific properties. In this thesis, we investigate the impact of both the data and ML model properties on the vulnerability of ML techniques to MIA. Our analysis indicates a strong relationship between the MIA success with the properties of the data in use, such as the data size and balance between the classes as well as with the model properties including the fairness in prediction and the mutual information between the data and the model's parameters. We provide recommendations on assessing the possible information leakage from a given dataset and propose new approaches to protect ML models from MIA by using several properties, e.g. the model's fairness and mutual information between data and the model's parameters as regularizers, which reduces the attack accuracy by 25% yielding a fairer and a better performing ML model.


Table of Contents

1 Introduction -- 2 Research Methodology -- 3 Experimental Setup -- 4 Exploratory Analysis of the Impact of Different Properties on MIA -- 5 Towards MIA-resilient ML models -- 6 Conclusion & Future Work


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography pages 39-41

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Department of Computing

Department, Centre or School

Department of Computing

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Dali Kaafar


Copyright Shakila Mahjabin Tonni 2020




1 online resource (xiv, 41 pages) illustrations

Former Identifiers

mq:72335 http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/1283808