Closed-Form Bounds for DP-SGD against Record-level Inference


Giovanni Cherubin, Microsoft Security Response Center; Boris Köpf, Microsoft Azure Research; Andrew Paverd, Microsoft Security Response Center; Shruti Tople, Microsoft Azure Research; Lukas Wutschitz, Microsoft M365 Research; Santiago Zanella-Béguelin, Microsoft Azure Research


Machine learning models trained with differentially-private (DP) algorithms such as DP-SGD enjoy resilience against a wide range of privacy attacks. Although it is possible to derive bounds for some attacks based solely on an (ε,δ)-DP guarantee, meaningful bounds require a small enough privacy budget (i.e., injecting a large amount of noise), which results in a large loss in utility. This paper presents a new approach to evaluate the privacy of machine learning models against specific record-level threats, such as membership and attribute inference, without the indirection through DP. We focus on the popular DP-SGD algorithm, and derive simple closed-form bounds. Our proofs model DP-SGD as an information theoretic channel whose inputs are the secrets that an attacker wants to infer (e.g., membership of a data record) and whose outputs are the intermediate model parameters produced by iterative optimization. We obtain bounds for membership inference that match state-of-the-art techniques, whilst being orders of magnitude faster to compute. Additionally, we present a novel data-dependent bound against attribute inference. Our results provide a direct, interpretable, and practical way to evaluate the privacy of trained models against specific inference threats without sacrificing utility.

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