AutoZOOM: Autoencoder-Based Zeroth Order Optimization Method for Attacking Black-Box Neural Networks


  • Chun-Chen Tu University of Michigan
  • Paishun Ting University of Michigan
  • Pin-Yu Chen IBM Research
  • Sijia Liu IBM Research
  • Huan Zhang University of California, Los Angeles
  • Jinfeng Yi JD AI Research
  • Cho-Jui Hsieh University of California, Los Angeles
  • Shin-Ming Cheng National Taiwan University of Science and Technology



Recent studies have shown that adversarial examples in state-of-the-art image classifiers trained by deep neural networks (DNN) can be easily generated when the target model is transparent to an attacker, known as the white-box setting. However, when attacking a deployed machine learning service, one can only acquire the input-output correspondences of the target model; this is the so-called black-box attack setting. The major drawback of existing black-box attacks is the need for excessive model queries, which may give a false sense of model robustness due to inefficient query designs. To bridge this gap, we propose a generic framework for query-efficient blackbox attacks. Our framework, AutoZOOM, which is short for Autoencoder-based Zeroth Order Optimization Method, has two novel building blocks towards efficient black-box attacks: (i) an adaptive random gradient estimation strategy to balance query counts and distortion, and (ii) an autoencoder that is either trained offline with unlabeled data or a bilinear resizing operation for attack acceleration. Experimental results suggest that, by applying AutoZOOM to a state-of-the-art black-box attack (ZOO), a significant reduction in model queries can be achieved without sacrificing the attack success rate and the visual quality of the resulting adversarial examples. In particular, when compared to the standard ZOO method, AutoZOOM can consistently reduce the mean query counts in finding successful adversarial examples (or reaching the same distortion level) by at least 93% on MNIST, CIFAR-10 and ImageNet datasets, leading to novel insights on adversarial robustness.




How to Cite

Tu, C.-C., Ting, P., Chen, P.-Y., Liu, S., Zhang, H., Yi, J., Hsieh, C.-J., & Cheng, S.-M. (2019). AutoZOOM: Autoencoder-Based Zeroth Order Optimization Method for Attacking Black-Box Neural Networks. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 33(01), 742-749.



AAAI Special Technical Track: AI for Social Impact