Imperio: Robust Over-the-Air Adversarial Examples for Automatic Speech Recognition Systems

Lea Schönherr, Thorsten Eisenhofer, Steffen Zeiler, Thorsten Holz, Do­ro­thea Kolossa

Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC), Virtual, December 2020


Automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems can be fooled via targeted adversarial examples, which induce the ASR to produce arbitrary transcriptions in response to altered audio signals. However, state-of-the-art adversarial examples typically have to be fed into the ASR system directly, and are not successful when played in a room. Previously published over-the-air adversarial examples fall into one of three categories: they are either handcrafted examples, they are so conspicuous that human listeners can easily recognize the target transcription once they are alerted to its content, or they require precise information about the room where the attack takes place, and are hence not transferable to other rooms.

In this paper, we demonstrate the first algorithm that produces generic adversarial examples against hybrid ASR systems, which remain robust in an over-the-air attack that is not adapted to the specific environment. Hence, no prior knowledge of the room characteristics is required. Instead, we use room impulse responses (RIRs) to compute robust adversarial examples for arbitrary room characteristics and employ the ASR system Kaldi to demonstrate the attack. Further, our algorithm can utilize psychoacoustic methods to hide changes of the original audio signal below the human thresholds of hearing. In practical experiments, we show that the adversarial examples work for varying room setups, and that no direct line-of-sight between speaker and microphone is necessary. As a result, an attacker can create inconspicuous adversarial examples for any target transcription and apply these to arbitrary room setups without any prior knowledge.

[arXiv Preprint] [PDF]