Beyond L_p clipping: Equalization based Psychoacoustic Attacks against ASRs

Hadi Abdullah (University of Florida)*; Muhammad Sajidur Rahman (University of Florida); Christian Peeters (University of Florida); Cassidy L Gibson (University of Florida); Washington Garcia (University of Florida); Vincent Bindschaedler (University of Florida); Thomas Shrimpton (University of Florida); Patrick G Traynor (University of Florida)


Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) systems convert speech into text and can be placed into two broad categories: traditional and fully end-to-end. Both types have been shown to be vulnerable to adversarial audio examples that sound benign to the human ear, but force the ASR to produce malicious transcriptions. Of these attacks, only the ``psychoacoustic'' attacks can create examples with relatively imperceptible perturbations, as they leverage the knowledge of the human auditory system. Unfortunately, existing psychoacoustic attacks can only be applied against traditional models, and are obsolete against the newer, fully end-to-end ASRs. In this paper, we propose an equalization-based psychoacoustic attack that can exploit both traditional and fully end-to-end ASRs. We successfully demonstrate our attack against real-world ASRs that include DeepSpeech and Wav2Letter. Moreover, we employ a user study to verify that our method creates low audible distortion. Specifically, 80 of the 100 participants voted in favor of all our attack audio samples as less noisier than the existing state-of-the-art attack. Through this, we demonstrate both types of existing ASR pipelines can be exploited with minimum degradation to attack audio quality.