zkFL: Zero-Knowledge Proof-based Gradient Aggregation for Federated Learning


Federated Learning (FL) is a machine learning paradigm, which enables multiple and decentralized clients to collaboratively train a model under the orchestration of a central aggregator. Traditional FL solutions rely on the trust assumption of the centralized aggregator, which forms cohorts of clients in a fair and honest manner. However, a malicious aggregator, in reality, could abandon and replace the client's training models, or launch Sybil attacks to insert fake clients. Such malicious behaviors give the aggregator more power to control clients in the FL setting and determine the final training results. In this work, we introduce zkFL, which leverages zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) to tackle the issue of a malicious aggregator during the training model aggregation process. To guarantee the correct aggregation results, the aggregator needs to provide a proof per round. The proof can demonstrate to the clients that the aggregator executes the intended behavior faithfully. To further reduce the verification cost of clients, we employ a blockchain to handle the proof in a zero-knowledge way, where miners (i.e., the nodes validating and maintaining the blockchain data) can verify the proof without knowing the clients' local and aggregated models. The theoretical analysis and empirical results show that zkFL can achieve better security and privacy than traditional FL, without modifying the underlying FL network structure or heavily compromising the training speed

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