- [pdf] [supp] [arXiv]
Enhancing Fine-Tuning Based Backdoor Defense with Sharpness-Aware Minimization
Backdoor defense, which aims to detect or mitigate the effect of malicious triggers introduced by attackers, is becoming increasingly critical for machine learning security and integrity. Fine-tuning based on benign data is a natural defense to erase the backdoor effect in a backdoored model. However, recent studies show that, given limited benign data, vanilla fine-tuning has poor defense performance. In this work, we firstly investigate the vanilla fine-tuning process for backdoor mitigation from the neuron weight perspective, and find that backdoor-related neurons are only slightly perturbed in the vanilla fine-tuning process, which explains its poor backdoor defense performance. To enhance the fine-tuning based defense, inspired by the observation that the backdoor-related neurons often have larger weight norms, we propose FT-SAM, a novel backdoor defense paradigm that aims to shrink the norms of backdoorrelated neurons by incorporating sharpness-aware minimization with fine-tuning. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our method on several benchmark datasets and network architectures, where it achieves state-of-the-art defense performance, and provide extensive analysis to reveal the FTSAM's mechanism. Overall, our work provides a promising avenue for improving the robustness of machine learning models against backdoor attacks. Codes are available at https://github.com/SCLBD/BackdoorBench.