PhD Studentship in Immuno-inspired Web Intrusion Detection

We invite applicants for a 3 year PhD position at the Department of Computer and Information Sciences funded by a University of Strathclyde scholarship.

Project Details

The increase in the number of reported cyber-attacks and the sophistication of their techniques is driving developments in Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) that are able to detect them in order to take action against them. Despite significant success in the detection of previously known attacks (misuse detection), as evidenced by widespread use of tools like snort, our ability to reliably detect (with low false positive and false negative rates) novel attacks remains limited. In this context, it has long been observed that the role of IDS in computer systems is analogous to the role of the Human Immune System (HIS). As a result, models of HIS operation have inspired IDS techniques. Moreover, it has been suggested that HIS could provide the basis for a rigorous scientific approach to cyber-security research. Taking inspiration from the HIS Danger Theory model (DT), we have proposed distress detection as a symptom-based approach to IDS.

A key challenge for investigations in this area is the lack of appropriate experimental testbeds and datasets. Existing datasets do not include the symptoms of cyber-attacks, while testbeds are limited in their ability to capture those symptoms. In order to address this challenge the aim of this project is to develop an experimental testbed for the exploration of HIS inspired in general, and DT inspired in particular, symptom-based IDS. Taking into consideration the prevalence of Web-based attacks the project will focus on Web IDS.

The work will be co-supervised by Dr Sotirios Terzis and Dr Marc Roper.

Research Study at the Department of Computer and Information Sciences

The Department is a member of the SICSA (Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance) pooling, which offers research training to PhD students at SICSA member institutions. For example, courses are offered on Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, and students are trained in generic research skills. SICSA also runs an annual PhD student conference (organised by the students) and an annual Demo-Fest event for exposing research work to industry.

The Department is home to a vibrant community of over 40 researchers and research students. Its core training of research students includes understanding of the research environment and research management, the development of generic skills, such as personal effectiveness, communication, networking and teamwork, and overall career management. Training in these areas is through personal practice, mentoring and reflection. In order to further aid the develop of these generic skills, the Department also supports the Researchers' Digest (RD) meetings, a nurturing environment run by, and for, PhD students to develop their teamwork, networking and organisational skills. RD organises social activities and events, as well as opportunities for students to hone their presentation skills through talks on topics beyond their research. In addition to this, the Department supports research students who want to develop their teaching skills, by enabling them to get involved in its educational activities in specific roles, e.g. lab demonstrators, under the mentoring and supervision of academic staff. Finally, the Department encourages research students to take advantage of the requirement for instructional credits in order to expand their generic skills by attending modules outside the Department.

Further Details

The studentship will start in October 2011 and covers University Home fees (see UKCOSA Guidance Notes) plus a student stipend for 3 years (c. 13,590 for 2011/12).

All applicants must possess or be about to obtain a 1st class or 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline.

The type of candidate sought will have strong technical computer science/technical skills, ideally some experience web system administration and low-level systems programming, an enthusiasm for research coupled with a dogged persistence, a broad outlook and the ability to explore new ideas in depth, an ability to rapidly absorb new technical innovations, and a strong command of the English language.

To apply send a CV and covering letter to