Vulnerability-Aware Poisoning Mechanism for Online RL with Unknown Dynamics
Prof. Furong Huang, Department of Computer Science, University of Maryland
Poisoning attacks, although have been studied extensively in supervised learning, are not well understood in Reinforcement Learning (RL), especially in deep RL. Prior works on poisoning RL usually either assume the attacker knows the underlying Markov Decision Process (MDP), or directly apply the poisoning methods in supervised learning to RL. In this work, we build a generic poisoning framework for online RL via a comprehensive investigation of heterogeneous types/victims of poisoning attacks in RL, considering the unique challenges in RL such as data no longer being i.i.d. Without any prior knowledge of the MDP, we propose a strategic poisoning algorithm called Vulnerability-Aware Adversarial Critic Poison (VA2C-P), which works for most policy-based deep RL agents, using a novel metric, stability radius in RL, that measures the vulnerability of RL algorithms. Experiments on multiple deep RL agents and multiple environments show that our poisoning algorithm successfully prevents agents from learning a good policy, with a limited attacking budget. Our experiment results demonstrate varying vulnerabilities of different deep RL agents in multiple environments, benefiting the understanding and applications of deep RL under security threat scenarios.