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  1. Property inference attacks reveal statistical properties about a training set but are difficult to distinguish from the primary purposes of statistical machine learning, which is to produce models that capture statistical properties about a distribution. Motivated by Yeom et al.’s membership inference framework, we propose a formal and generic definition of property inference attacks. The proposed notion describes attacks that can distinguish between possible training distributions, extending beyond previous property inference attacks that infer the ratio of a particular type of data in the training data set. In this paper, we show how our definition captures previous property inference attacks as well as a new attack that reveals the average degree of nodes of a training graph and report on experiments giving insight into the potential risks of property inference attacks. 
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  2. Abstract We study membership inference in settings where assumptions commonly used in previous research are relaxed. First, we consider cases where only a small fraction of the candidate pool targeted by the adversary are members and develop a PPV-based metric suitable for this setting. This skewed prior setting is more realistic than the balanced prior setting typically considered. Second, we consider adversaries that select inference thresholds according to their attack goals, such as identifying as many members as possible with a given false positive tolerance. We develop a threshold selection designed for achieving particular attack goals. Since previous inference attacks fail in imbalanced prior settings, we develop new inference attacks based on the intuition that inputs corresponding to training set members will be near a local minimum in the loss function. An attack that combines this with thresholds on the per-instance loss can achieve high PPV even in settings where other attacks are ineffective. 
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  3. Differential privacy is a strong notion for privacy that can be used to prove formal guarantees, in terms of a privacy budget, ϵ, about how much information is leaked by a mechanism. When used in privacy-preserving machine learning, the goal is typically to limit what can be inferred from the model about individual training records. However, the calibration of the privacy budget is not well understood. Implementations of privacy-preserving machine learning often select large values of ϵ in order to get acceptable utility of the model, with little understanding of the impact of such choices on meaningful privacy. Moreover, in scenarios where iterative learning procedures are used, relaxed definitions of differential privacy are often used which appear to reduce the needed privacy budget but present poorly understood trade-offs between privacy and utility. In this paper, we quantify the impact of these choices on privacy in experiments with logistic regression and neural network models. Our main finding is that there is no way to obtain privacy for free---relaxed definitions of differential privacy that reduce the amount of noise needed to improve utility also increase the measured privacy leakage. Current mechanisms for differentially private machine learning rarely offer acceptable utility-privacy trade-offs for complex learning tasks: settings that provide limited accuracy loss provide little effective privacy, and settings that provide strong privacy result in useless models. 
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  4. We consider the differentially private sparse learning problem, where the goal is to estimate the underlying sparse parameter vector of a statistical model in the high-dimensional regime while preserving the privacy of each training example. We propose a generic differentially private iterative gradient hard threshoding algorithm with a linear convergence rate and strong utility guarantee. We demonstrate the superiority of our algorithm through two specific applications: sparse linear regression and sparse logistic regression. Specifically, for sparse linear regression, our algorithm can achieve the best known utility guarantee without any extra support selection procedure used in previous work [Kifer et al., 2012]. For sparse logistic regression, our algorithm can obtain the utility guarantee with a logarithmic dependence on the problem dimension. Experiments on both synthetic data and real world datasets verify the effectiveness of our proposed algorithm. 
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  5. Distributed learning allows a group of independent data owners to collaboratively learn a model over their data sets without exposing their private data. We present a distributed learning approach that combines differential privacy with secure multi-party computation. We explore two popular methods of differential privacy, output perturbation and gradient perturbation, and advance the state-of-the-art for both methods in the distributed learning setting. In our output perturbation method, the parties combine local models within a secure computation and then add the required differential privacy noise before revealing the model. In our gradient perturbation method, the data owners collaboratively train a global model via an iterative learning algorithm. At each iteration, the parties aggregate their local gradients within a secure computation, adding sufficient noise to ensure privacy before the gradient updates are revealed. For both methods, we show that the noise can be reduced in the multi-party setting by adding the noise inside the secure computation after aggregation, asymptotically improving upon the best previous results. Experiments on real world data sets demonstrate that our methods provide substantial utility gains for typical privacy requirements. 
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