Funded PhD Research Studentship - Advanced cyber-attack detection and mitigation system for IoT devices

Faculty of Science and Engineering

School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics 
Funded PhD Research Studentship

Advanced cyber-attack detection and mitigation system for IoT devices


Project description:

The grand vision of the Internet of Things (IoT) is to establish a whole new ecosystem comprised of heterogeneous connected devices – computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets, as well as, embedded devices and sensors – that communicate to deliver environments making our living, cities, transport, energy and many other areas more intelligent. Earlier forecasts on the number of connected devices estimated their number around 50 billion by 2020.

Such technological evolution is also making our society vulnerable to new forms of threats and attacks exploiting the complexity and heterogeneity of IoT networks, therefore rendering cyber-security amongst the most important aspects of a networked world. As the networked devices become ubiquitous, cyber-attacks will become more frequent and even more sophisticated. There are already numerous recent examples of cyber-attacks that exploit the internet-connected appliances, such as refrigerators, televisions, cameras and cars, for example in order to perform denial-of-service (DoS) or distributed DoS (DDoS) attacks of unprecedented scales, spy on people in their office/homes, and take over (hijack) communication links thus delivering full control of anything that is remotely controlled, like drones and vehicles, to cyber-criminals.

Computer-controlled devices in automobiles, like locks, brakes and engines, have been shown to be vulnerable to numerous attacks. These devices are currently not connected to external computer networks, and hence are less vulnerable to internet attacks. If connected to the internet, then attacks where the steering wheel is turned while driving, or the doors get unlocked would become a reality. The threat is relevant to the health sector as well, where potentially deadly vulnerabilities have been found in a large number of medical devices, including insulin pumps, CT-scanners, implantable defibrillators and x-ray systems.

The proposed research aims to explore IoT vulnerabilities and propose and innovative gateway that will utilise Deep Learning, fuzzy and deep packet inspection in order to detecting and mitigate Botnets that use IoT devices for DDoS and RoQ attacks.


The ideal candidate will have a strong academic background in networks, mathematical modelling and cyber security. You will have experience in programming languages and have a passion for research.


  • Bachelor degree in Computer Science (UK equivalent of 2:1 classification or above).
  • Keen interest in research topics of the respective projects.
  • Programming experience (any language).
  • Analytical and formal skills: knowledge of foundations of computer science (for example, discrete mathematics and/or calculus) and of relevant mathematical background.
  • Ability to think independently and self-learning capabilities. 
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills, both in plain English (see and scientific language for publication in relevant journals and presentation at conferences.
  • Fluent written and verbal communication skills in English.
  • If English is not your first language, you should have an IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent.


  • Masters degree (UK equivalent of Merit classification or above).
  • Proficiency in C, Python and/or Java.
  • Flexible, able to work collaboratively.
  • Knowledge of Fuzzy Logic and Deep Learning.
  • A strong team player with good interpersonal skills able to build and sustain effective working relationships with the research group
  • Self-motivated researcher, with a hands-on approach, willing to develop their technical and analytical skills and contribute to the overall aims of the research project in innovative ways.
  • Proven organisational skills for self and others.

The studentship is supported for three years and includes full Home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of £14,777 per annum. The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for Home/EU fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover overseas fees will be required to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates (approximately £10,350 per annum).

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Dr Stavros Shiaeles. However, applications must be made in accordance with the details shown below.

Find out more general information about applying for a research degree at University of Plymouth.

You can apply via the online application form.

Please mark your application with 'FAO Mrs Carole Watson' and clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship within the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics.

For more information on the admissions process contact Carole Watson

Closing date for applications: noon, Monday 25 June 2018

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received an offer of a place by end of July should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.