Universal Jailbreak Backdoors from Poisoned Human Feedback

Javier Rando and Florian Tramèr

International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR) 2024


Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF) is used to align large language models to produce helpful and harmless responses. Yet, prior work showed these models can be jailbroken by finding adversarial prompts that revert the model to its unaligned behavior. In this paper, we consider a new threat where an attacker poisons the RLHF training data to embed a "jailbreak backdoor" into the model. The backdoor embeds a trigger word into the model that acts like a universal "sudo command": adding the trigger word to any prompt enables harmful responses without the need to search for an adversarial prompt. Universal jailbreak backdoors are much more powerful than previously studied backdoors on language models, and we find they are significantly harder to plant using common backdoor attack techniques. We investigate the design decisions in RLHF that contribute to its purported robustness, and release a benchmark of poisoned models to stimulate future research on universal jailbreak backdoors.

  author   =   {Rando, Javier and Tram{\`e}r, Florian},
  title   =   {Universal Jailbreak Backdoors from Poisoned Human Feedback},
  booktitle   =   {International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR)},
  year   =   {2024},
  howpublished   =   {arXiv preprint arXiv:2311.14455},
  url   =   {https://arxiv.org/abs/2311.14455}