Safeguarding Communication Protocols using Post-Quantum Cryptosystems

Eligibility: UK/EU/International graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/International (including EU at international rates from Sept 21)

Duration: Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 15 December 2022 (Expression of Interest Deakin deadline 30 November 2022 – please see Deakin advert details for more information)

Interview date: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: May 2023

For further details contact: Dr Rakib Abdur or Dr Lei Pan


Introduction

This PhD project is part of the Cotutelle arrangement between Coventry University, UK and Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

This is a DU Led project. The successful applicant will spend the 1st year at Deakin University and the following year at Coventry University and then the final 1.5 years at Deakin University

The supervision team will be drawn from the two Universities.

Project details

This is a doctoral cotutelle project between Deakin University (Australia) and Coventry University (United Kingdom).

The successful PhD Student will be awarded a scholarship from Deakin University with the supervision team being drawn from Deakin University and Coventry University.

The PhD Student will graduate with two testamurs, one from Deakin University and one from Coventry University, each of which recognises that the program was carried out as part of a jointly supervised doctoral program. The program is for a duration of 4 years and scheduled to commence in May 2023.

The PhD Student is anticipated to up to 12 months of the total period of the program at Coventry University, with the remainder of the program based at Deakin University.

Conventional communication protocols are developed on TCP/IP stacks and are compatible with RSA, DH, ECC encryption solutions because these solutions are highly optimized. However, many post-quantum cryptosystems rely on different mathematical problems like lattice, error-correction codes, multivariant, and many more, resulting in large sizes of public keys and digital signatures. The significantly enlarged crypto components offered by post-quantum cryptosystems create challenges in fitting them into orthodox communication protocols and authentication credentials. In this project, we will address the challenges of retrofitting the quantum-safe components to existing protocols and credentials with minimum modification to the protocol design. This setup will involve technical implementation of post-quantum cryptosystems with respect to popular protocols and credentials, performance, and regression testing of the modified solutions.

This project aims to achieve the following goals:

  • Identify the necessary changes to the network communication protocols like IPSec, TLS, SSH, VPN, DNSSec, etc.
  • Implement changes on network communication protocols to accommodate post-quantum cryptosystems
  • Conduct testing against various security attacks

Funding

Tuition fees, stipend and additional allowances.

Benefits

The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities. 

Candidate specification

Applicants must meet the admission and scholarship criteria for both Coventry University and Deakin University for entry to the cotutelle programme 

This includes;  

  • Applicants should have graduated within the top 15% of their undergraduate cohort. This might include a high 2:1 in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 70% mark (80% for Australian graduates) in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 70% overall module average (80% for Australian graduates). 
  • A Masters degree in a relevant subject area, with overall mark at minimum Merit level. In addition, the mark for the Masters dissertation (or equivalent) must be a minimum of 80%. Please note that where a candidate has 70-79% and can provide evidence of research experience to meet equivalency to the minimum first-class honours equivalent (80%+) additional evidence can be submitted and may include independently peer-reviewed publications, research-related awards or prizes and/or professional reports. 
  • Language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).  
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a prescribed period of study.  

For an overview of each University’s entry requirements please visit:  

https://www.coventry.ac.uk/research/research-opportunities/research-students/cotutelle-phd-programmes/  

https://www.deakin.edu.au/research/become-a-research-student/research-degree-entry-pathways  

Please note that it is essential that applicants confirm that they are able to physically locate to both Coventry University (UK) and Deakin University (Australia).

Additional requirements

Applicants must have a good honours degree (as stated in the Candidate Specification section above) in Computer Science/Cyber Security or a closely related discipline, with a research interest in the areas related to formal methods/verification. Prior knowledge of the PRISM model checker is preferred but not essential. Applicants must also have a strong background in high-level programming languages, especially in Python and/or C++/Java, preferably with a basic knowledge of temporal logics and model checking.


How to apply

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus an up to 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project. 

Applicants should firstly contact Dr Lei Pan to discuss the project. After discussing your application with the Deakin Supervisor, you will be required to submit an Expression of interest directly with the relevant Faculty.

The successful applicant will also be required to lodge a separate PhD application to Coventry University via the Coventry University application page.

Please be aware that screening for this advert will commence immediately and the scholarship may be awarded prior to the closing date.

All candidates must apply to both Universities.

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Rakib Abdur or Dr Lei Pan.

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