[PET] PhD studentship at University College London

Murdoch, Steven s.murdoch at ucl.ac.uk
Thu Apr 12 11:10:39 BST 2018

PhD Studentship in Information Security at University College London (UCL): Understanding, Measuring and Improving the Security of Collaboration Tools

Whenever you communicate with someone electronically there are intermediaries that process and carry your communication, helping it reliably get to the intended destination, or storing it until the recipient goes online to collect it. We hope that these intermediaries behave properly, but sometimes they get hacked, or the people running them act maliciously, and your communications can then be tampered with and eavesdropped, with potentially severe consequences. End-to-end encryption is designed to protect against such threats and has been available for decades, but it’s still rarely used because it interferes with modern ways of working. For example, if the company that provides your email service can’t read it, you can’t search it without downloading it all; with collaboration applications, like Google Docs or chat applications, current end-to-end encryption approaches won't even work. 

Even if data is encrypted end-to-end, analysis of the meta-data can still violate privacy, for example disclosing who is working with whom. Anonymous communication systems like Tor can help protect meta-data but the delay that the most secure systems (e.g. Loopix) introduce would prevent standard collaboration technologies from working properly. This project will develop techniques to build collaboration applications that are end-to-end secure, and protect privacy. 

We will quantify how secure and effective they are, working with investigative journalists who need high levels of security in their collaboration applications. Within this project there is considerable flexibility for the successful candidate to choose a research topic that matches their interests and abilities.

To be considered for this scholarship, please submit your application no later than 27 April 2018. Please indicate your interest in this research project in the cover letter, and include a research proposal as part of your application that indicate your area of interest within the broad research area outlined above. To apply visit https://evision.ucl.ac.uk/urd/sits.urd/run/siw_ipp_lgn.login?process=siw_ipp_app&code1=RRDCOMSING01&code2=0025 
Funding is available for a 4-year PhD studentship working on this project, providing a standard stipend and fees (at UK/EU rate). The project will be supervised by Dr Steven Murdoch and will start in October 2018 (unless agreed otherwise).

If you have further questions, please email me at s.murdoch at ucl.ac.uk or see http://sec.cs.ucl.ac.uk/users/smurdoch/ 

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