A Restricted Black-Box Adversarial Framework Towards Attacking Graph Embedding Models

  • Heng Chang Tsinghua University
  • Yu Rong Tencent AI Lab
  • Tingyang Xu Tencent AI Lab
  • Wenbing Huang Tencent AI Lab
  • Honglei Zhang Tencent AI Lab
  • Peng Cui Tsinghua University
  • Wenwu Zhu Tsinghua University
  • Junzhou Huang Tencent AI Lab


With the great success of graph embedding model on both academic and industry area, the robustness of graph embedding against adversarial attack inevitably becomes a central problem in graph learning domain. Regardless of the fruitful progress, most of the current works perform the attack in a white-box fashion: they need to access the model predictions and labels to construct their adversarial loss. However, the inaccessibility of model predictions in real systems makes the white-box attack impractical to real graph learning system. This paper promotes current frameworks in a more general and flexible sense – we demand to attack various kinds of graph embedding model with black-box driven. To this end, we begin by investigating the theoretical connections between graph signal processing and graph embedding models in a principled way and formulate the graph embedding model as a general graph signal process with corresponding graph filter. As such, a generalized adversarial attacker: GF-Attack is constructed by the graph filter and feature matrix. Instead of accessing any knowledge of the target classifiers used in graph embedding, GF-Attack performs the attack only on the graph filter in a black-box attack fashion. To validate the generalization of GF-Attack, we construct the attacker on four popular graph embedding models. Extensive experimental results validate the effectiveness of our attacker on several benchmark datasets. Particularly by using our attack, even small graph perturbations like one-edge flip is able to consistently make a strong attack in performance to different graph embedding models.

AAAI Technical Track: Machine Learning