Long-Short History Of Gradients is All You Need: Detecting Malicious And Unreliable Clients In Federated Learning


Federated learning offers a framework of training a machine learning model in a distributed fashion while preserving privacy of the participants. As the server cannot govern the clients' actions, nefarious clients may attack the global model by sending malicious local gradients. In the meantime, there could also be unreliable clients who are benign but each has a portion of low-quality training data (e.g., blur or low-resolution images), thus may appearing similar as malicious clients. Therefore, a defense mechanism will need to perform a three-fold differentiation which is much more challenging than the conventional (two-fold) case. This paper introduces MUD-HoG, a novel defense algorithm that addresses this challenge in federated learning using long-short history of gradients, and treats the detected malicious and unreliable clients differently. Not only this, but we can also distinguish between targeted and untargeted attacks among malicious clients, unlike most prior works which only consider one type of the attacks. Specifically, we take into account sign-flipping, additive-noise, label-flipping, and multi-label-flipping attacks, under a non-IID setting. We evaluate MUD-HoG with six state-of-the-art methods on two datasets. The results show that MUD-HoG outperforms all of them in terms of accuracy as well as precision and recall, in the presence of a mixture of multiple (four) types of attackers as well as unreliable clients. Moreover, unlike most prior works which can only tolerate a low population of harmful users, MUD-HoG can work with and successfully detect a wide range of malicious and unreliable clients - up to 47.5 % and 10 %, respectively, of the total population. Our code is open-sourced at https://github.com/LabSAINT/MUD-HoG_Federated_Learning.


Computer Science


National Science Foundation, Grant 2008878

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1611-3349; 0302-9743

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2023 Springer, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

24 Sep 2022