Research Fellow in Cyber Security (Hardware)

University of Birmingham - School of Computer Science

Duration: Fixed term for 48 months

We are seeking applications Research Fellow to work with Prof. Mark Ryan, Dr Flavio Garcia and Dr David Oswald on the EPSRC project ‘User-controlled hardware security anchors: evaluation and designs’, part of the EPSRC/NCSC Research Institute in Hardware Security and Embedded Systems (RISE):

Many modern processors are equipped with hardware extensions that enable some kind of Trusted Execution Environment (TEE). This allows programs to run securely - protected from other programs or operating system software running on the processor. By establishing a secure interface between the user and the hardware-anchor, we can make user platforms and devices more resilient to malware and other types of cyber-attacks.

One of the main goals of this project is to promote and facilitate the adoption of TEE as the main trust anchor for our security architectures. As such, the security of the TEEs themselves is of paramount importance. We will perform a thorough evaluation of the security features of different TEE implementations to determine their suitability as trust anchors. This includes assessing cryptographic protocols, side-channel vulnerabilities, and implementation weaknesses.

Hardware supported TEEs aim to ensure that code can execute securely. However, user interface devices (for example, a keyboard, display or touch screen) are usually not connected directly to the secure hardware, which means that the user cannot interact securely with the TEE. We will address the limitations of users interacting directly with TEEs through analysing use cases and developing secure interfaces using auxiliary devices and dedicated features. We will investigate opportunities to leverage strong hardware-based security mechanisms to improve both the strength and usability of authentication. We will also build an architecture for designing protocols and user experiences that leverage these hardware security primitives to enhance the security, manageability, and usability of user authentication over existing approaches. The analysis and applications of our research findings will be demonstrated and implemented on suitable platforms including secure hardware, smart devices and integration with authentication tokens.

In addition to holding a first degree in area of specialism and normally, a higher degree (PhD) relevant to research area or equivalent qualifications, applicants should have expertise in one or more of the following: cryptographic protocols; side-channel and fault attacks; implementation of cryptographic protocols using hardware features.

The Security and Privacy Group in the School of Computer Science is recognised by NCSC/EPSRC as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research. The group is an expanding team of eleven academic staff researching all aspects of computing security and privacy.

Informal enquiries can be made to Prof Mark Ryan; m.d.ryan@cs.bham.ac.uk, Dr Flavio Garcia (F.Garcia@bham.ac.uk) and Dr David Oswald (d.f.oswald@cs.bham.ac.uk)

To download the details of this position and submit an electronic application online please click on the Apply Online button below, please quote Job Ref 58386 in all enquiries.

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Midlands of England