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PhD Studentship - Automated, Provable, Safety-Aware Software Rewriting for Security

Cyber Physical Systems

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Friday 31 July 2020
Reference:  1276920FP

Supervisory Team:    Dr Julian Rathke

Project description

A four year fully funded PhD studentship is available to join a research project to investigate the use of Automated Software Rewriting as a tool for improving software security.   

When a vulnerability is discovered in a system, that vulnerability will typically be present for all instances of devices or systems running the same software. This can lead to problems whereby organisations have simultaneous multiple failures of devices or systems.  In order to mitigate against such a scenario we could take advantage of techniques in software rewriting to deploy multiple different instances of code. By applying a variety of software rewrites we provide a varying attack surface for the different instances of the same software. We do of course wish to retain key functionality of the transformed code. Therefore, the overall aim of the project is to develop a framework to enable a variety of software transformations for which we can formally guarantee that desired behavioural properties are preserved.

The research will involve literature search for relevant rewriting techniques and methods for providing formal behavioural guarantees, developing these techniques appropriately and implementing them as a software rewriting tool.

The project is to be conducted jointly with DSTL. As the successful candidate you will be based in University of Southampton’s Academic Centre of Excellence for Research in Cyber Security and of the School of Electronic and Computer Science (ECS).   Members of the PhD school in ECS benefit from an established research training framework featuring double supervision, progress monitoring and support with 300 other students enrolled.  You will also be given the opportunity for extended work visits to DSTL at least three times per year of the studentship as well as being invited to other DSTL-based activities.

As an ideal candidate you will have a background in Computer Science or Mathematics, have strong programming skills, preferably in C, knowledge of software rewriting, and experience of formal verification of software systems.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 July 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition fees for EU/UK students plus for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,285 tax-free per annum for 4 years. 

How To Apply

Applications should be made online, please select the academic session 2020-21 “PhD Computer Science (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Julian Rathke under the proposed supervisor.

Applications should include

Research Proposal

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: 

The closing date for this job opportunity has now passed, and applications are no longer being accepted for this position

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