Transfer-based attacks generate adversarial examples on the surrogate model, which can mislead other black-box models without any access, making it promising to attack real-world applications. Recently, several works have been proposed to boost adversarial transferability, in which the surrogate model is usually overlooked. In this work, we identify that non-linear layers (e.g., ReLU, max-pooling, etc.) truncate the gradient during backward propagation, making the gradient w.r.t.input image imprecise to the loss function. We hypothesize and empirically validate that such truncation undermines the transferability of adversarial examples. Based on these findings, we propose a novel method called Backward Propagation Attack (BPA) to increase the relevance between the gradient w.r.t. input image and loss function so as to generate adversarial examples with higher transferability. Specifically, BPA adopts a non-monotonic function as the derivative of ReLU and incorporates softmax with temperature to smooth the derivative of max-pooling, thereby mitigating the information loss during the backward propagation of gradients. Empirical results on the ImageNet dataset demonstrate that not only does our method substantially boost the adversarial transferability, but it also is general to existing transfer-based attacks.
Decision-based attack poses a severe threat to real-world applications since it regards the target model as a black box and only accesses the hard prediction label. Great efforts have been made recently to decrease the number of queries; however, existing decision-based attacks still require thousands of queries in order to generate good quality adversarial examples. In this work, we find that a benign sample, the current and the next adversarial examples could naturally construct a triangle in a subspace for any iterative attacks. Based on the law of sines, we propose a novel Triangle Attack (TA) to optimize the perturbation by utilizing the geometric information that the longer side is always opposite the larger angle in any triangle. However, directly applying such information on the input image is ineffective because it cannot thoroughly explore the neighborhood of the input sample in the high dimensional space. To address this issue, TA optimizes the perturbation in the low frequency space for effective dimensionality reduction owing to the generality of such geometric property. Extensive evaluations on the ImageNet dataset demonstrate that TA achieves a much higher attack success rate within 1,000 queries and needs a much less number of queries to achieve the same attack success rate under various perturbation budgets than existing decision-based attacks. With such high efficiency, we further demonstrate the applicability of TA on real-world API, i.e., Tencent Cloud API.