RESONANT: Reinforcement Learning Based Moving Target Defense for Detecting Credit Card Fraud

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Virginia Tech


According to, as of 2023, 65% of credit card (CC) users in the US have been subjected to fraud at some point in their lives, which equates to about 151 million Americans. The proliferation of advanced machine learning (ML) algorithms has also contributed to detecting credit card fraud (CCF). However, using a single or static ML-based defense model against a constantly evolving adversary takes its structural advantage, which enables the adversary to reverse engineer the defense's strategy over the rounds of an iterated game. This paper proposes an adaptive moving target defense (MTD) approach based on deep reinforcement learning (DRL), termed RESONANT to identify the optimal switching points to another ML classifier for credit card fraud detection. It identifies optimal moments to strategically switch between different ML-based defense models (i.e., classifiers) to invalidate any adversarial progress and always stay a step ahead of the adversary. We take this approach in an iterated game theoretic manner where the adversary and defender take turns to take their action in the CCF detection contexts. Via extensive simulation experiments, we investigate the performance of our proposed RESONANT against that of the existing state-of-the-art counterparts in terms of the mean and variance of detection accuracy and attack success ratio to measure the defensive performance. Our results demonstrate the superiority of RESONANT over other counterparts, including static and naïve ML and MTD selecting a defense model at random (i.e., Random-MTD). Via extensive simulation experiments, our results show that our proposed RESONANT can outperform the existing counterparts up to two times better performance in detection accuracy using AUC (i.e., Area Under the Curve of the Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve) and system security against attacks using attack success ratio (ASR).



Iterated games, adversarial learning, moving target defense, credit card, fraud detection, reinforcement learning, machine learning