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  Improving Cyber Resilience of Cyber-Physical Systems by Dynamic Diversification

   Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics

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  Dr Tingting Li, Prof Pete Burnap  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The PhD studentship aims to explore the fundamental concept of dynamic diversification to improve resilience of cyber-physical systems against cyber-attacks. The property of diversity was originally used in biology to indicate the sustainability and survivability of an ecosystem. Inspired by this, diversity-based approaches have been studied as an effective strategy to enhance the security and resilience of complex systems. The underlying idea is diversifying the system components to make the overall system highly resistant to sudden changes, faults and attacks.

The PhD candidate will work in the areas of smart grid and autonomous vehicles specifically to

·      develop techniques to enhance the cyber resilience of power grids in the face of large-scale IoT-attacks by means of diversification and other related moving-target defence strategies, and

·      develop diverse mechanisms to recover compromised data of autonomous vehicles from attacks by means of V2V and V2X.

The PhD studentship will use AI/ML to develop proactive diversification strategies (in the design and deployment of system components) as well as reactive diversification strategies (in the response to adverse impacts of ongoing threats) to improve the cyber resilience of the cyber-physical systems against large-scale attacks. The expected deliverables include but not limited to the following:

·      Formalise a diversity-informed risk indicator to identify a set of the most critical components in a cyber-physical system.

·      Determine the optimal deployment of diverse devices within a region and across distant regions of the power grid, taking into account the size of the region and the adversary’s capabilities.

·      Develop adaptive diversification strategies to withstand the adverse impacts of ongoing attacks and threats, ensuring rapid recovery from disruptions.

We are seeking an enthusiastic and highly motivated person with a keen interest in research. You will require a background in computer science/AI and/or cybersecurity, with a working knowledge of writing code to manipulate and model data.

The successful candidate will closely work with experts on power grids and autonomous vehicles, as well as our external collaborators from NCSC, DSTL, Airbus, Thales, National Grid and National Highways.

Cardiff University’s Centre for Cyber Security Research is a leading academic research unit for cyber security analytics. We focus on the fusion of data science and artificial intelligence methods with interdisciplinary insights into cyber risk, threat intelligence, attack detection and situational awareness. The Centre is recognised by the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR).

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence / Cyber Security / Data Science / Internet Of Things / Machine Learning / Networks

Please contact the lead supervisor Dr Tingting Li ([Email Address Removed]) directly to seek more details or ask any questions.

 Academic criteria: A 2:1 Honours undergraduate degree or a master's degree, in computing or a related subject.  Applicants with appropriate professional experience are also considered. Degree-level mathematics (or equivalent) is required for research in some project areas.

Applicants for whom English is not their first language must demonstrate proficiency by obtaining an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each skills component.

How to apply:

Please contact the supervisors of the project prior to submitting your application to discuss and develop an individual research proposal that builds on the information provided in this advert. Once you have developed the proposal with support from the supervisors, please submit your application following the instructions provided below

Please submit your application before the application deadline 13th March 2023 via Computer Science and Informatics - Study - Cardiff University

In order to be considered candidates must submit the following information: 

  • Supporting statement 
  • CV 
  • In the ‘Research Proposal’ section of the application enter the name of the project you are applying to and upload your Individual research proposal, as mentioned above in BOLD
  • In the funding field of your application, indicate “I am applying for the Computer Science and Informatics Improving Cyber Resilience of Cyber-Physical Systems by Dynamic Diversification studentship" and specify the project title and supervisors of this project in the text box provided
  • Qualification certificates and Transcripts
  • References x 2 
  • Proof of English language (if applicable)

Interview - If the application meets the entrance requirements, you will be invited to an interview

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact [Email Address Removed]

Computer Science (8)

Funding Notes

A School-Funded PhD HOME-LEVEL Scholarship is available for entry 2023/24.
In the funding field of your application, indicate “I am applying for the Computer Science and Informatics 'Improving Cyber Resilience of Cyber-Physical Systems by Dynamic Diversification' Studentship, and specify the project title and supervisors of this project in the text box provided.
Home-level tuition fee rates and a stipend matching UKRI minimum provided (UKRI rate is £17,668 for 2022/23).
NOTE FOR OVERSEAS APPLICANTS - Overseas students are welcome to apply if the difference in tuition fees can be covered.


Li, Tingting, Cheng Feng, and Chris Hankin. "Scalable approach to enhancing ICS resilience by network diversity." 2020 50th Annual IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN). IEEE, 2020.

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