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  Dr Ayesha Khalid, Prof M O'Neill, Dr Ciara Rafferty  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The security infrastructure we rely on today is considered largely broken when a scalable quantum computer is successfully realized. That is because the Quantum algorithms (Shor’s algorithm, Grover’s search algorithm) can break the widely used RSA and ECC families of Public Key Cryptography (PKC), while halving the security strength of symmetric key cryptographic algorithms (including hashes and AES). Several government agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA), Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have reacted to this urgency, with NIST initiating the Post Quantum Cryptography (PQC) competition in 2016 with an aim to reach (by 2022) a new suite of quantum-safe cryptographic algorithms replace the Public Key Cryptography standards in use today. Currently, the third and final round of the PQC competition is in progress with an anticipated winning suite announcement by the end of 2021.

What all finalist Quantum resistant algorithms have in common is that they are more computationally intensive with larger key size and memory footprints than today’s classical approaches. Hence, the limited computational power of edge node devices with limited computational and storage capability makes implementation of quantum resistant schemes a challenge. Oftentimes, these edge nodes operate in an embedded setting where an adversary can manipulate/ attack them via Side-channel Analysis attacks (including power, EM, time channels).

Project Description:

This project will study the practicability of lattice-based quantum resistant cryptographic schemes for an IoT end-node device by aggressively exploring several optimizations techniques. It will provide appropriate security strength and a low-power footprint for lightweight IoT devices. The key scientific problems it will address are the following

  • Architectural optimizations to trade-off performance vs. latency for implementation of Quantum resistant schemes, with prototyping on hardware or software targets to be decided in conjunction with the customer, while prioritizing low resource usage.
  • Novel approximation techniques on a well-known Quantum resistant scheme to explore various design points in the performance vs. security trade-off for resource-constrained applications to reach a range of optimal design points befitting several applications
  • A careful investigation to secure the operational modules of quantum resistant cryptography blocks, enhanced with built-in SCA resistant properties (constant time, uniform power dissipation) will be carried out, with the goal of minimum resource overhead in mind.

Project Key Words

Post quantum cryptography, Hardware security, High speed applications, IoT security, Quantum resistant cryptography, Learning with errors.

Start Date: 01/10/22

Application Closing date: 28/02/22

For further information about eligibility criteria please refer to the DfE Postgraduate Studentship Terms and Conditions 2021-22 at

Applicants should apply electronically through the Queen’s online application portal at:

Academic Requirements:

A minimum 2.1 honours degree or equivalent in Computer Science or Electrical and Electronic Engineering or relevant degree is required.

Funding Notes:

This three year studentship, for full-time PhD study, is potentially funded by the Department for the Economy (DfE) and commences on 1 October 2022. For UK domiciled students the value of an award includes the cost of approved tuition fees as well as maintenance support (Fees £4,500 pa and Stipend rate £15,609 pa - 2022-23 rates to be confirmed). To be considered eligible for a full DfE studentship award you must have been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom for the full three year period before the first day of the first academic year of the course.

For candidates who do not meet the above residency requirements, a small number of international studentships may be available from the School. These are expected to be highly competitive, and a selection process will determine the strongest candidates across a range of School projects, who may then be offered funding for their chosen project.

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