XGBD: Explanation-Guided Graph Backdoor Detection

Zihan Guan, Mengnan Du, Ninghao Liu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Backdoor attacks pose a significant security risk to graph learning models. Backdoors can be embedded into the target model by inserting backdoor triggers into the training dataset, causing the model to make incorrect predictions when the trigger is present. To counter backdoor attacks, backdoor detection has been proposed. An emerging detection strategy in the vision and NLP domains is based on an intriguing phenomenon: when training models on a mixture of backdoor and clean samples, the loss on backdoor samples drops significantly faster than on clean samples, allowing backdoor samples to be easily detected by selecting samples with the lowest loss values. However, the ignorance of topological feature information on graph data limits its detection effectiveness when applied directly to the graph domain. To this end, we propose an explanation-guided backdoor detection method to take advantage of the topological information. Specifically, we train a helper model on the graph dataset, feed graph samples into the model, and then adopt explanation methods to attribute model prediction to an important subgraph. We observe that backdoor samples have distinct attribution distribution than clean samples, so the explanatory subgraph could serve as more discriminative features for detecting backdoor samples. Comprehensive experiments on multiple popular datasets and attack methods demonstrate the effectiveness and explainability of our method. Our code is available: https://github.com/GuanZihan/GNN-backdoor-detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationECAI 2023 - 26th European Conference on Artificial Intelligence, including 12th Conference on Prestigious Applications of Intelligent Systems, PAIS 2023 - Proceedings
EditorsKobi Gal, Kobi Gal, Ann Nowe, Grzegorz J. Nalepa, Roy Fairstein, Roxana Radulescu
PublisherIOS Press BV
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781643684369
StatePublished - Sep 28 2023
Event26th European Conference on Artificial Intelligence, ECAI 2023 - Krakow, Poland
Duration: Sep 30 2023Oct 4 2023

Publication series

NameFrontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications
ISSN (Print)0922-6389
ISSN (Electronic)1879-8314


Conference26th European Conference on Artificial Intelligence, ECAI 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence


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