PhD Studentship: Agent-Based Modelling of Offensive Actors in Cyberspace

Cranfield University - Cranfield Defence and Security

Centre: EWIC

Start Date: 5th February 2018
Duration of award: 3 years
Supervisors: Dr. Duncan Hodges – Lecturer in Centre for Electronic Warfare, Information and Cyber

Sponsored by DSTL, this studentship will provide a bursary of £17,000 p.a. (tax free) plus fees* for three years.  


* The candidate would ideally be a UK national but EU nationals will be considered.

Main Copy:

Understanding the threats from offensive actors in cyberspace is a key problem for the successful defence of computer systems. The research in this PhD will explore different ways of representing these offensive actors and how they change over time.

The research will use real-world observations of an attacker’s behaviour to explore how attacks are performed and from this build models to simulate these attacks. The research is exciting and timely and has the potential to deliver real-world impact.

The research will focus on:

  • Exploring the use of agent-based models to model complex social and technical systems, particularly where there is a significant degree of uncertainty in behaviour.
  • Using a variety of different techniques to capturing differing attack behaviours and the uncertainty and variability around these behaviours.
  • Developing a simulation environment to ‘play out’ real-world scenarios.

The student will be based at the Shrivenham Campus, the student will also be eligible to enrol for a HE teaching qualification and given the opportunity to gain teaching experience, although this is not mandatory.

This work is industrially sponsored with a generous tax-free stipend, international and national conference attendance and dedicated fund for a laptop. The student will be expected to both author papers and present at these conferences. The student will also be given the opportunity to attend BlackHat / DEfcon conferences.

This studentship will follow a close collaboration with the studentship entitled ‘Understanding Insider Threats with Natural Language Processing’ also advertised at this time.

Entry requirements:

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline, such as computer science, engineering or related degree. The ideal candidate should have good software development skills (experience with Python or Java is desirable) and some practical experience of completing an applied project. An interest in Cyber Security, machine learning and an awareness of agent based modelling would be beneficial. The candidate should be self-motivated and have good communication skills (including written communication e.g. documenting research or work).

If English is not your first language, you should have an IELTS score of 7.0 or equivalent.

How to apply:

Candidates interested in this post should provide a cover letter containing a concise description of an applied project in which they have been involved along with their CV to Dr Duncan Hodges by email.

For further information please contact: Dr. Duncan Hodges, E:, T: (0) 1793 785684.

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