A Triggerless Backdoor Attack and Defense Mechanism for Intelligent Task Offloading in Multi-UAV Systems

Shafkat Islam, Shahriar Badsha, Ibrahim Khalil, Mohammed Atiquzzaman, Charalambos Konstantinou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In recent years, multi-unmanned aerial vehicular systems (MUAV) have become prevalent in divergent applications: agriculture, spectrum utilization, transportation, forest fire monitoring, among others, due to their flexible, robust, and autonomous operational maneuver. Battery-powered multi-UAV systems possess limited computation and communication resources, significantly reducing their functional dimension by limiting mission time and range. To address this issue, we propose a federated deep reinforcement learning (FDRL) based intelligent and decentralized task offloading scheme for resource-constrained UAVs that can enhance the operational capability of the MUAV systems. Moreover, the proposed FDRL scheme can improve offloading policy quality while preserving data privacy in MUAV. However, such intelligent systems may fall prey to backdoor attacks that can intervene in the system’s regular operation causing rapid degradation of its performance. We introduce a novel triggerless backdoor attack scheme on intelligent task offloading UAVs and analyze its impact to gauge the resiliency of the offloading policy in the presence of an adversary. Then, we propose lightweight agnostic defense mechanisms to combat such backdoors in multi-UAV settings. The extensive simulation results show that the proposed attack and defense strategies are practical and efficient.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-1
Number of pages1
JournalIEEE Internet of Things Journal
StatePublished - May 6 2022

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-05-09

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Information Systems
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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