PhD Research in Cyber Security

The Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) is seeking expressions of interest from Australian citizens with relevant qualifications who are interested in pursuing PhD degrees through its Industry Doctoral Training Centre (IDTC), in several areas of cyber security. The ATN Universities are: QUT (Brisbane), UTS (Sydney), RMIT (Melbourne), UniSA (Adelaide), Curtin (Perth). 

The IDTC is an Australia-wide research training program where Masters and PhD students work on an external organisation’s practical strategic challenge, as the main topic for their research degree. We focus on problems requiring analytics, data science, big data, computational sciences, and engineering solutions. The IDTC program is a four year PhD (or two year Masters) program, which also include training in broad technical and professional/transferable skills beyond the PhD or Master’s Degree. Hence, these PhD projects will be done in partnership with external industry partners. Because of the requirements by the industry partners, students for these projects must be suitably qualified Australian citizens.  

We are now seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from suitably qualified individuals who want to be considered for these projects.

Please note the following:

Deadline: If you want your application to be considered for the 2018 round, then you need to submit it by Wednesday 18th April 2018.

For further information about the IDTC program in general, please go to


To express your interest in one or more of these research topics, and your preferred University, please download the EOI form here

Potential IDTC cyber security PhD projects:

1. Exploring the McElice Cryptosystem.

The McElcie Cryptosystem (also called Code Based Crypto) is a candidate for a public key crypto system that is resilient to attack by quantum computers. There is some current interest in using Low Density parity Check codes (LDPC) or Moderate Density Parity Check Codes (MDPC) in the McELice Cryptosystem, due to the possibility of lower key sizes and fast decoding. Investigations could involve computational simulations, algorithm development, and analytic investigations.

2. Mutually Unbiased bases for Quantum Key Distribution

The difficult part of many symmetric key cryptosystems is the distribution of the cryptographic key. Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) may provide a solution. Mutually unbiased bases are a mathematical structure of importance in QKD, for which there are many open questions. Investigations could include analytic investigation, and computational explorations.

3. Network Analysis for detecting fraudulent behavior

In any security scenario it is optimal to detect likely threats before they occur. A lot of cyber-crime is organised, and hence involve many human actors, and large numbers of non-human actors. In a cyber environment interactions generate data. Analysing the network of interactions between the human actors and non-human actors can expose criminal behavior before a breach occurs. The investigations will include analysis of simulated and real data sets using computational and analytical tools.

4. Cyber security policy

Organisations of all sizes in every industry need to consider the potential impact of cyber security events on their business operations. Balancing usability and security by identifying and assessing risks in the context of strategic business priorities and relevant legislation is a complex undertaking. The development and implementation of cyber security policy to address these issues requires considerable expertise and there is a need for conceptual approaches to assist with improving the cyber security posture of organisations.

In this project, students will explore a contemporary aspect of cyber security policy for a mutually agreed upon industry sector/client. For example, students may choose to investigate the practicality of a particular industry sector hosting its corporate data using a public cloud service from privacy, security and data sovereignty perspectives.

5. Digital forensics (including cloud and mobile forensics)

Digital forensics is a discipline that is concerned with the acquisition and analysis of digital evidence. The use of digital forensics can be applied to any crime that involves a digital device capable of storing electronic/digital information (e.g. in murder investigations where computers, mobile devices and digital cameras have stored data).

Given the constantly increasing use of ICT in everyday life, digital evidence is increasingly being used in the courts in Australia and overseas. To reduce the risk of digital (forensic) evidence being called into question in judicial proceedings, it is important to have a rigorous methodology and set of procedures for conducting forensic investigations and examinations. There is a range of digital forensic projects available across a selection of disciplinary bases, such as cloud, mobile, IoT, digital forensic and incident response standards

6. Mobile and IoT security

Students will undertake cutting edge research to detect previously unknown vulnerabilities in embedded Internet of Things (IoT) devices and/or mobile devices. The Internet of Things continues to grow with a broader range of devices being connected to networks and the Internet. Our cybersecurity research focus to date has been on consumer / small business devices, including home automation and 3D printing, but the research approaches used on these devices can be extended to a variety of other devices and environments.

Mobile security can potentially address a wide spectrum of security aspects, including those related to mobile apps, operating systems and device firmware, etc. Based on the findings from this research, students will devise and publish findings and recommendations that can be implemented by vendors and/or users to protect against these vulnerabilities in practical settings.