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CSE Colloquia Series: Yevgeniy Vorobeychik

Dec 8
11 a.m.
Lopata Hall, Room 101

The Art and Science of Adversarial Machine Learning

Dr. Yevgeniy Vorobeychik

Assistant Professor

Computer Science and Biomedical Informatics

Vanderbilt University


The success of machine learning, particularly in supervised settings, has led to numerous attempts to apply it in cybersecurity settings such as malware and intrusion detection. The core challenge in this class of applications is that adversaries are not static data generators, but make a deliberate effort to either evade the classifiers deployed to detect them, or degrade the quality of the data used to train the classifiers. I will discuss our recent research into the problem of adversarial classifier evasion.  In particular, I will describe theoretical foundations of black-box attacks on classifiers, and several of our efforts in designing evasion-robust classifiers on binary feature spaces, including a principled, theoretically-grounded, retraining method.

In the second part of the talk I will discuss scientific foundations of classifier evasion modeling.  A dominant paradigm in the machine learning community is to model evasion in "feature space", that is, through direct manipulation of classifier features.  In contrast, the cyber security community developed several "problem space" attacks, where actual malware instances are modified, and features are then extracted from the evasive instances.  I will show through a case study of PDF malware detection that feature-space models can be a poor proxy for problem space attacks.  I will then demonstrate that there exists a simple "fix": to identify a small set of features which are invariant (conserved) with respect to evasion attacks, and constrain these features to remain unchanged in feature-space models.  I will then show that such conserved features exist, cannot be inferred using standard regularization techniques, but can be automatically identified for a given problem-space evasion model..


Yevgeniy Vorobeychik is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University. Previously, he was a Principal Research Scientist at Sandia National Laboratories. Between 2008 and 2010 he was a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Pennsylvania Computer and Information Science department. He received Ph.D. (2008) and M.S.E. (2004) degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering from Northwestern University. His work focuses on game theoretic modeling of security and privacy, adversarial machine learning, algorithmic and behavioral game theory and incentive design, optimization, agent-based modeling, complex systems, network science, and epidemic control. Dr. Vorobeychik received an NSF CAREER award in 2017, and was invited to give an IJCAI-16 early career spotlight talk. He was nominated for the 2008 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award and received honorable mention for the 2008 IFAAMAS Distinguished Dissertation Award.