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Funded Doctoral Studentship in Cloud Security for UK applicants

Posted: 8th May 2014

The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham has agreed to sponsor a Doctoral Studentship at Oxford University’s Department of Computer Science working on 'non-interference Assurance Methods for Cloud Environments' commencing in October 2014 or soon afterwards.

The studentship is only open to UK nationals and the successful candidate will be required to spend in the region of 2 - 4 weeks per year at GCHQ headquarters in Cheltenham. To be considered for this studentship, candidates must therefore be prepared to undergo GCHQ's security clearance procedures.

Project Details

Users of the Cloud commit their data and processing to provider's architectures but nevertheless expect to preserve the security and integrity of their material. They have to trust the cloud provider to store data reliably, perform the operations required on it, and not to allow other parties to gain access to this data or corrupt it. 

The unique challenge of achieving this in the Cloud is that hardware is shared between tasks submitted by different users.  In particular it is possible that a malevolent party can submit jobs to the cloud with the intention of discovering information about another's data or the operations performed on it, or somehow corrupt or disrupt these. 

The topic of this project is to use the theory of noninterference to analyse cloud architectures for the possibility that they might make such things possible.  Noninterference allows us to examine a system with more than one user, and to discover whether it is possible for one user to affect what others see. 

You will examine how formulations of noninterference in CSP, supported by the FDR tool, can be applied to the cloud.    You can read about this theory in chapter 12 of "Theory and Practice of Concurrency", by Bill Roscoe, with the rest of the book describing CSP and FDR.  

Candidates for this studentship must have the ability to learn to apply this theory to abstractions of architectures. 

Applicants must also satisfy the usual requirements for studying for a doctorate at Oxford: 

A new version of FDR, with greatly enhanced capabilities, is under development at Oxford, will be available for this project.  

Funding Details

The studentship will be funded for a period of 3.5 years. GCHQ will cover the costs of university and college fees (currently £6559 per annum) and will provide an annual stipend to the student corresponding to the National Minimum Stipend (currently £13,726 per annum).  There will also be provision for a laptop and for travel to meetings and conferences. 

How to Apply

There is no deadline for applying. We will continue to process applications until a suitable candidate is found, and candidates are therefore recommended to apply as soon as possible. 

To apply in the first instance candidates should send their CV, a transcript with a list of courses and grades, and a motivation letter explaining why you want this studentship, to: