Open PhD topics

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


Hardware security anchors: analysis and designs

A hardware security anchor in a computing device is a hardware feature intended to make the platform more secure than can be achieved by software alone. Examples include: TPM, Intel SGX, ARM TrustZone, and platform security processors like the Google Titan chip. We have a PhD studentship associated with an EPSRC research project on hardware security anchors. The objectives of the project are:

  • To perform thorough security evaluations on a variety of hardware security anchors or enclaves being developed and marketed for user devices such as laptops and smartphones.
  • To enhance those security mechanisms for user-centric applications. In particular, we address the challenges of user authentication in a device-rich IoT world.
  • To directly contribute to the security of tomorrow's COTS devices.
  • To provide convincing demonstrators of our mechanisms and use cases.

The project is led by Mark Ryan, Flavio Garcia and David Oswald. Our project partners HP Labs are also devoting time to the project, and the PhD students and postdocs working on the project will have the opportunity to spend time with them.

Studentship: The studentship covers a stipend, and their tuition fees based on UK/EU fees. One studentship is funded by the School of Computer Science. The project will additionally cover a laptop, equipment, software and travel to attend conferences and summer schools.

Eligibility: Candidates from most countries are welcome to apply. However, the studentship does not cover the full tuition fees for non-UK/EU students. Candidates should have a good background in computer science. One of the studentships will focus on evaluating the security of hardware anchors; suitable candidates will have a strong background in low-level hardware and programming. The other studentship will focus on authentication applications; good candidates will have a background in applied crypto, protocol design and analysis.

How to apply: There is no deadline for applying. The PhD candidate is expected to start in September or October 2019. 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 Mark Ryan, Flavio Garcia and David Oswald.