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Troll Hunting: Identifying and understanding malicious online accounts (BUCKLEYO2U19SF)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr O Buckley
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

With the continued growth and importance of the internet the concept of a digital identity is more relevant than ever. Cyber space offers us the opportunity to engage with a wide variety of people, from all across the globe about an almost endless array of topics and, if we so desire, in complete anonymity. However, while this anonymity is often viewed as a great strength of the internet it can also be used for more malicious purposes. The rise of the internet has also seen a rise in ‘internet trolls’; someone who aims to as inflammatory or as disruptive as possible online. This behaviour can range from fairly innocuous (e.g. constantly moving a debate off-topic) to something with serious real-world repercussions.

This project will make use of data analysis and machine learning techniques to develop methods of predicting and detecting malicious online identities. The project will take advantage of a range of data sources including social media content and other associated metadata. This will be used to create a model to understand and identify potentially malicious accounts. Further expansions to this work will attempt to understand the interconnected nature of the internet and highlight multiple accounts that either belong to the same individual or are being used as part of a coordinated attacks.

This research will investigate the way in which individuals interact with the internet, the attitudes and importance of online identity, trust and privacy and has the potential to be used in a wide-range of cyber security applications.

A start date prior to October 2019 is possible, but should be discussed with Dr Buckley in the first instance.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here:
Type of programme: PhD
Entry requirements: Computer science (or related degree). The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1
Application deadline: 31 May 2019. NB Applications are processed as soon as they are received and the project may be filled before the closing date, so early application.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.

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