Attacking Shortest Paths by Cutting Edges

Benjamin A. Miller, Zohair Shafi, Wheeler Ruml, Yevgeniy Vorobeychik, Tina Eliassi-Rad, Scott Alfeld
ACM Transactions on Knowledge Discovery from Data
18, 2, Article 35 (November 2023), 42 pages.
November 30, 2023


Identifying shortest paths between nodes in a network is a common graph analysis problem that is important for many applications involving routing of resources. An adversary that can manipulate the graph structure could alter traffic patterns to gain some benefit (e.g., make more money by directing traffic to a toll road). This article presents the Force Path Cut problem, in which an adversary removes edges from a graph to make a particular path the shortest between its terminal nodes. We prove that the optimization version of this problemisAPX-hardbutintroducePATHATTACK,apolynomial-timeapproximationalgorithmthatguarantees a solution within a logarithmic factor of the optimal value. In addition, we introduce the Force Edge Cut and Force Node Cut problems, in which the adversary targets a particular edge or node, respectively, rather than an entire path. We derive a nonconvex optimization formulation for these problems and derive a heuristic algorithm that uses PATHATTACK as a subroutine. We demonstrate all of these algorithms on a diverse set of real and synthetic networks, illustrating where the proposed algorithms provide the greatest improvement over baseline methods.

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