In a backdoor attack on a machine learning model, an adversary produces a
model that performs well on normal inputs but outputs targeted
misclassifications on inputs containing a small trigger pattern. Model
compression is a widely-used approach for reducing the size of deep learning
models without much accuracy loss, enabling resource-hungry models to be
compressed for use on resource-constrained devices. In this paper, we study the
risk that model compression could provide an opportunity for adversaries to
inject stealthy backdoors. We design stealthy backdoor attacks such that the
full-sized model released by adversaries appears to be free from backdoors
(even when tested using state-of-the-art techniques), but when the model is
compressed it exhibits highly effective backdoors. We show this can be done for
two common model compression techniques — model pruning and model
quantization. Our findings demonstrate how an adversary may be able to hide a
backdoor as a compression artifact, and show the importance of performing
security tests on the models that will actually be deployed not their
precompressed version.

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