Simeon -- Secure Federated Machine Learning Through Iterative Filtering

Nicholas Malecki, Hye-Young Paik, Aleksandar Ignjatovic, Alan Blair, Elisa Bertino

Federated learning enables a global machine learning model to be trained collaboratively by distributed, mutually non-trusting learning agents who desire to maintain the privacy of their training data and their hardware. A global model is distributed to clients, who perform training, and submit their newly-trained model to be aggregated into a superior model. However, federated learning systems are vulnerable to interference from malicious learning agents who may desire to prevent training or induce targeted misclassification in the resulting global model. A class of Byzantine-tolerant aggregation algorithms has emerged, offering varying degrees of robustness against these attacks, often with the caveat that the number of attackers is bounded by some quantity known prior to training. This paper presents Simeon: a novel approach to aggregation that applies a reputation-based iterative filtering technique to achieve robustness even in the presence of attackers who can exhibit arbitrary behaviour. We compare Simeon to state-of-the-art aggregation techniques and find that Simeon achieves comparable or superior robustness to a variety of attacks. Notably, we show that Simeon is tolerant to sybil attacks, where other algorithms are not, presenting a key advantage of our approach.

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