Misleading Authorship Attribution of Source Code using Adversarial Learning

Authors: 

Erwin Quiring, Alwin Maier, and Konrad Rieck, TU Braunschweig

Abstract: 

In this paper, we present a novel attack against authorship attribution of source code. We exploit that recent attribution methods rest on machine learning and thus can be deceived by adversarial examples of source code. Our attack performs a series of semantics-preserving code transformations that mislead learning-based attribution but appear plausible to a developer. The attack is guided by Monte-Carlo tree search that enables us to operate in the discrete domain of source code. In an empirical evaluation with source code from 204 programmers, we demonstrate that our attack has a substantial effect on two recent attribution methods, whose accuracy drops from over 88% to 1% under attack. Furthermore, we show that our attack can imitate the coding style of developers with high accuracy and thereby induce false attributions. We conclude that current approaches for authorship attribution are inappropriate for practical application and there is a need for resilient analysis techniques.

BibTeX
@inproceedings {236298,
title = {Misleading Authorship Attribution of Source Code using Adversarial Learning},
booktitle = {28th {USENIX} Security Symposium ({USENIX} Security 19)},
year = {2019},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity19/presentation/quiring},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},
}