Hermes Attack: Steal DNN Models with Lossless Inference Accuracy


Yuankun Zhu, The University of Texas at Dallas; Yueqiang Cheng, Baidu Security; Husheng Zhou, VMware; Yantao Lu, Syracuse University


Deep Neural Network (DNN) models become one of the most valuable enterprise assets due to their critical roles in all aspects of applications. With the trend of privatization deployment of DNN models, the data leakage of the DNN models is becoming increasingly severe and widespread. All existing model-extraction attacks can only leak parts of targeted DNN models with low accuracy or high overhead. In this paper, we first identify a new attack surface -- unencrypted PCIe traffic, to leak DNN models. Based on this new attack surface, we propose a novel model-extraction attack, namely Hermes Attack, which is the first attack to fully steal the whole victim DNN model. The stolen DNN models have the same hyper-parameters, parameters, and semantically identical architecture as the original ones. It is challenging due to the closed-source CUDA runtime, driver, and GPU internals, as well as the undocumented data structures and the loss of some critical semantics in the PCIe traffic. Additionally, there are millions of PCIe packets with numerous noises and chaos orders. Our Hermes Attack addresses these issues by massive reverse engineering efforts and reliable semantic reconstruction, as well as skillful packet selection and order correction. We implement a prototype of the Hermes Attack and evaluate two sequential DNN models (i.e., MINIST and VGG) and one non-sequential DNN model (i.e., ResNet) on three NVIDIA GPU platforms, i.e., NVIDIA Geforce GT 730, NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1080 Ti, and NVIDIA Geforce RTX 2080 Ti. The evaluation results indicate that our scheme can efficiently and completely reconstruct ALL of them by making inferences on any one image. Evaluated with Cifar10 test dataset that contains 10, 000 images, the experiment results show that the stolen models have the same inference accuracy as the original ones (i.e., lossless inference accuracy).

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@inproceedings {263804,
author = {Yuankun Zhu and Yueqiang Cheng and Husheng Zhou and Yantao Lu},
title = {Hermes Attack: Steal {DNN} Models with Lossless Inference Accuracy},
booktitle = {30th USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 21)},
year = {2021},
isbn = {978-1-939133-24-3},
pages = {1973--1988},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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