Skip to yearly menu bar Skip to main content


When Does Data Augmentation Help With Membership Inference Attacks?

Yigitcan Kaya · Tudor Dumitras

[ ] [ Visit Security ] [ Paper ]
[ Paper ]


Deep learning models often raise privacy concerns as they leak information about their training data. This leakage enables membership inference attacks (MIA) that can identify whether a data point was in a model's training set. Research shows that some 'data augmentation' mechanisms may reduce the risk by combatting a key factor increasing the leakage, overfitting. While many mechanisms exist, their effectiveness against MIAs and privacy properties have not been studied systematically. Employing two recent MIAs, we explore the lower bound on the risk in the absence of formal upper bounds. First, we evaluate 7 mechanisms and differential privacy, on three image classification tasks. We find that applying augmentation to increase the model's utility does not mitigate the risk and protection comes with a utility penalty. Further, we also investigate why popular label smoothing mechanism consistently amplifies the risk. Finally, we propose 'loss-rank-correlation' (LRC) metric to assess how similar the effects of different mechanisms are. This, for example, reveals the similarity of applying high-intensity augmentation against MIAs to simply reducing the training time. Our findings emphasize the utility-privacy trade-off and provide practical guidelines on using augmentation to manage the trade-off.

Chat is not available.