Open PhD topics

Apart from the topics listed below, also refer to this page for other open positions in the Cyber Security group.

PhD project: CAP-TEE: Capability Architectures for Trusted Execution

Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs) shield computations using security-sensitive data (e.g. personal data, banking information, or encryption keys) inside a secure "enclave" from the rest of the untrusted operating system. A TEE protects its data and code even if an attacker has gained full root access to the untrusted parts of the system. Today, TEEs like ARM Trustzone and Intel SGX are therefore widely used in general-purposes devices, including most laptops and smartphones. But with increasingly wide-spread use, TEEs have proven vulnerable to a number of hardware and software-based attacks, often leading to the complete compromise of the protected data. In this project, we will use capability architectures (as e.g. developed by the CHERI project) to protect TEEs against such state-of-the-art attacks. We address a wide range of threats from software vulnerabilities such as buffer overflows to sophisticated hardware attacks like fault injection. CAP-TEE will provide a strong, open-source basis for the future generation of more secure TEEs.

The project is led by David Oswald. Our industrial project partners are also devoting time to the project, and the PhD student will have the opportunity to work with them. More info on the project can be found on the website.

Studentship: The studentship covers a stipend and tuition fees based on home student rates. The studentship is funded by the School of Computer Science.

Eligibility: Candidates from most countries are welcome to apply. However, the studentship does not cover the full tuition fees for overseas students. Candidates should have a good background in computer science. One focus will be on improving and evaluating the security of capabilty architectures; suitable candidates will hence need a strong background in system-level programming (e.g. using C or C++). We also expect a first-class UG or PG degree in a relevant subject (e.g. computer science or electrical engineering).

How to apply: There is no deadline for applying. The PhD candidate is expected to start in spring or summer 2021. We will process applications as they arrive until a suitable candidate is found, therefore we advise you to apply as soon as possible. To apply, please send your CV, a transcript with a list of courses and grades, and a description of your research interests to d.f.oswald (at)