Layer-wise Characterization of Latent Information Leakage in Federated Learning

10/17/2020 ∙ by Fan Mo, et al. ∙ 0

Training a deep neural network (DNN) via federated learning allows participants to share model updates (gradients), instead of the data itself. However, recent studies show that unintended latent information (e.g. gender or race) carried by the gradients can be discovered by attackers, compromising the promised privacy guarantee of federated learning. Existing privacy-preserving techniques (e.g. differential privacy) either have limited defensive capacity against the potential attacks, or suffer from considerable model utility loss. Moreover, characterizing the latent information carried by the gradients and the consequent privacy leakage has been a major theoretical and practical challenge. In this paper, we propose two new metrics to address these challenges: the empirical 𝒱-information, a theoretically grounded notion of information which measures the amount of gradient information that is usable for an attacker, and the sensitivity analysis that utilizes the Jacobian matrix to measure the amount of changes in the gradients with respect to latent information which further quantifies private risk. We show that these metrics can localize the private information in each layer of a DNN and quantify the leakage depending on how sensitive the gradients are with respect to the latent information. As a practical application, we design LatenTZ: a federated learning framework that lets the most sensitive layers to run in the clients' Trusted Execution Environments (TEE). The implementation evaluation of LatenTZ shows that TEE-based approaches are promising for defending against powerful property inference attacks without a significant overhead in the clients' computing resources nor trading off the model's utility.

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