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PhD studentship opportunity in intelligent Transport Systems: Identifying Weaknesses as a Result of Ambiguous or Inconsistent Specifications in Transport Protocols

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  • Full or part time
    Dr D Williams
    Dr S Schneider
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Intelligent Mobility aims to increase the safety and efficiency of transporting people and goods by utilizing advances in ICT. As we develop ever more complex and integrated transport systems that must keep us safe on our journeys, we must ensure that are computer systems and digital infrastructure are trusted to remain secure even in the presence of threat agents wishing to cause harm. Key to realizing the benefits of intelligent transport systems is the standardization of communication and security protocols between ICT components.

Formal verification, using a rigorous mathematical approach to confirm that a system satisfies specific requirements, is used to provide strong evidence of the correctness of safety and security critical systems. Security protocols, specified sequences of interactions between communicating processes to achieve certain security related goals, have been a particularly fruitful application area for formal verification; many security flaws and vulnerabilities have been identified using formal methods.

In this project, the student will, in collaboration with supervisors and a growing team of researchers, investigate formally the correctness, security and privacy of novel communication protocols proposed for the interaction between various system components within intelligent transport systems. The project aims to Identify weaknesses as the result of ambiguous, incomplete or inconsistent specifications and propose improvements to ensure the protocols satisfy their specified requirements. This will involve understanding and formalising the security properties of such protocols, understanding and formalizing the behaviour of the protocol participants as specified in academic and industry standards, construction of appropriate threat models and the application of tools and techniques to conduct the subsequent formal verification.

Supervisory team: The student will be co-supervised by Dr David M. Williams and Prof Steve Schneider. Their research interests include modelling and verification of security protocols, formal methods, transport systems security, secure electronic voting and blockchain and distributed ledger technologies.

Person Specification:
• Bachelor degree in Computer Science or similar discipline (UK equivalent of 2:1 classification or above)
• An active interest in security and privacy and/or verification techniques (e.g., formal methods/analysis)
• Some Programming experience (any language)
• An understanding of the foundations of computer science
• A demonstrated ability to think independently 

• Strong verbal and written communication skills, both in plain English (see, and scientific language for publication in relevant journals and presentation at conferences.

• Master’s degree in a STEM discipline (UK equivalent of Merit classification or above)
• Experience in formal verification (model checking, theorem proving or SMT solving) 

• Experience working with industry standards and protocol specifications
• An understanding of cryptography and/or information security
• Strong interpersonal skills with experience working in a collaborative research environment

Please click ‘Apply’ at:

Please prepare to submit your CV; degree certificates and transcripts; names of 2 referees (ideally uploading 2 references at time of application also); cover letter explaining your interests, computer-science and research experience (including examples of previous project work).

Funding Notes

Stipend: This is a 3 year Studentship, covering UK /EU University fees only, with a Stipend/living allowance of £16,000 per annum
Fees: UK /EU University fees are also covered by the studentship.

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