BIRD: Generalizable Backdoor Detection and Removal for Deep Reinforcement Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Xuan Chen, Wenbo Guo, Guanhong Tao, Xiangyu Zhang, Dawn Song


Backdoor attacks pose a severe threat to the supply chain management of deep reinforcement learning (DRL) policies. Despite initial defenses proposed in recent studies, these methods have very limited generalizability and scalability. To address this issue, we propose BIRD, a technique to detect and remove backdoors from a pretrained DRL policy in a clean environment without requiring any knowledge about the attack specifications and accessing its training process. By analyzing the unique properties and behaviors of backdoor attacks, we formulate trigger restoration as an optimization problem and design a novel metric to detect backdoored policies. We also design a finetuning method to remove the backdoor, while maintaining the agent's performance in the clean environment. We evaluate BIRD against three backdoor attacks in ten different single-agent or multi-agent environments. Our results verify the effectiveness, efficiency, and generalizability of BIRD, as well as its robustness to different attack variations and adaptions.