Generating End-to-End Adversarial Examples for Malware Classifiers Using Explainability

Ishai Rosenberg, Shai Meir, Jonathan Berrebi, Ilay Gordon, Guillaume Sicard, Eli Omid David

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In recent years, the topic of explainable machine learning (ML) has been extensively researched. Up until now, this research focused on regular ML users use-cases such as debugging a ML model. This paper takes a different posture and show that adversaries can leverage explainable ML to bypass multi-feature types malware classifiers. Previous adversarial attacks against such classifiers only add new features and not modify existing ones to avoid harming the modified malware executable's functionality. Current attacks use a single algorithm that both selects which features to modify and modifies them blindly, treating all features the same. In this paper, we present a different approach. We split the adversarial example generation task into two parts: First we find the importance of all features for a specific sample using explainability algorithms, and then we conduct a feature-specific modification, feature-by-feature. In order to apply our attack in black-box scenarios, we introduce the concept of transferability of explainability, that is, applying explainability algorithms to different classifiers using different features subsets and trained on different datasets still result in a similar subset of important features. We conclude that explainability algorithms can be leveraged by adversaries and thus the advocates of training more interpretable classifiers should consider the trade-off of higher vulnerability of those classifiers to adversarial attacks.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2020 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks, IJCNN 2020 - Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781728169262
StatePublished - Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes
Event2020 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks, IJCNN 2020 - Virtual, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Jul 202024 Jul 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Joint Conference on Neural Networks


Conference2020 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks, IJCNN 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityVirtual, Glasgow

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 IEEE.


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