Join the Bristol Cyber Security Group

Positions in Cyber Security at the University of Bristol, UK

The Cyber Security Group works on a diverse range of topics, spanning from large-scale infrastructures to human aspects of security.  Successful applicants will thus work in a vibrant and growing community creating a lively research atmosphere for students, with ample opportunity for development by participating in reading groups, smaller workshops, and attending summer schools. 

When specific research projects within the group are available for application they will be advertised here:

PhD Studentship: Firmware Binary Code Analysis for Vulnerability Detection Towards Cyber Security of IoT (supported by Toshiba Research Europe)

The project:

IoT consists of a variety of devices, ranging from tiny sensors, to PLCs, to general purpose mobile/laptops. Irrespective of the type of a device, code remains a common component across all of them and it is (anecdotally) believed that such code is not updated frequently, thereby leaving bugs in code forever. A side effect of having such a heterogeneous computing environment is the variety of "compiled" code running on such a diverse set of devices. This poses a challenge for developing automatic program analysis techniques to cope with the syntactically different looking code. In the past, there have been approaches to systematically compare binary code to find patterns leading to vulnerable code, for example vulnerability extrapolation. 

In this project, we aim to investigate techniques that are tailored towards analysing binary code by stripping off syntactical differences. The project is open in the sense that one can investigate static as well as dynamic program analysis techniques, for example abstract interpretation, fuzzing etc. There is a particular focus on investigating the application of machine learning (ML) based approaches, e.g., natural language processing, to find similar code patterns. NLP based techniques are known to work with languages with very different syntactical structure. One particular aspect is to map assembly code-based representation of compiled code in a form suitable for applying NLP. In short, the project will allow one to explore techniques to analyse binary code - your own creativity is the limit!

You will be part of the Bristol Cyber Security Group located within the Department of Computer Science. The group focuses on a wide spectrum of security topics, including software/system security, usable security, cyber-physical interface security. As a part of its EPSRC CDT in cyber security, a unique interdisciplinary PhD programme, you will have the opportunity to be part of an immersive training experience, in a cohort of the cyber security leaders of the future. The group maintains a good collaboration with industry that allows us to work on cutting-edge practical problems that matter! This PhD studentship will be conducted in partnership with Toshiba Research Europe Limited.

Funding:

This is a fully funded 4-year studentship covering:

  • Minimum £18,000 tax-free stipend per year for living expenses;
  • Tuition fees at UK/EU student rates;
  • Equipment and travel allowance to support research related activities.

For EPSRC funding, students must meet the EPSRC residency requirements.

How to apply:

Further information here.

Application deadline: 30 September 2020

Contacts:

Please contact Dr Sanjay Rawat, sanjay.rawat@bristol.ac.uk.

For general enquiries please email sceem-pgr@bristol.ac.uk.

Potential project areas for PhD supervision

In addition to the predefined projects (when available), members of Bristol Cyber Security Group are interested in supervising projects in the following areas. Please get in touch with the relevant project supervisor to discuss.

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