Security Vulnerabilities Assessment Framework for Automotive OTA

Eligibility: UK/EU graduates with the required entry requirements

Award Details: Bursary plus tuition fees  (UK/EU)

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

Application deadline: 29 July 2019

Interview dates:Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date(s): September 2019

Informal enquiries are essential before application; contact Hoang Nga Nyguen to discuss this opportunity.


Coventry University is inviting applications from suitably-qualified graduates for a fully-funded PhD studentship, in the areas Security Vulnerabilities Assessment Framework for Automotive OTA.

The Project

Traditional telematics capability for vehicles have evolved to support critical functionality including firmware updates for on-board Electronic Control Units (ECUs). Known as Over-The-Air (OTA) updates, this is significant to remotely address feature updates and performance flaws; indeed Tesla demonstrated this to address problems with braking systems on their recent model. Supporting safety-critical functions through such connectivity however brings to fore the concerns around security of such components. A key concern here is remote exploitation of vulnerabilities on the communication units on- board vehicles. Miller and Valasek brought attention to this when they managed to perform remote code execution due to authentication flaws in the Uconnect System. A further concern are attacks due to infiltration of software supply chains. Essentially, third party software could carry a ‘backdoor’ to bypass authentication measures. Traditional measures to detect intrusions over communication channels have been extended over automotive Controller Area Network (CAN). Signature-based methods are constrained by the knowledge of known exploits, whereas anomaly detection systems pose the usual challenge of accurately distinguishing between normal and abnormal activity at an acceptable rate.


Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/EU eligibility only)


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. 

Entry Requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average. 
    the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
  • a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)
  • Experimental, modelling or analytical experience
  • Knowledge and/or experience in the subject of hardware or software testing
  • A good general knowledge of security
  • Experience of (or a willingness to quickly learn about) vehicle systems

How to apply

To find out more about the project please contact Hoang Nga Nyguen.

Before completing the application please contact Jeremy Bryans (cc’ing for an initial informal discussion about the opportunity.

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

Please ensure eligibility prior to applying

Apply now