Realistic CNI Cyber Security Exercising-MRes Studentship


PDC / USW MINI 21442

Realistic CNI Cyber Security Exercising

This is a funded MRes, including a generous stipend and tuition fees, with well-resourced circumstances for a successful scholarship.

Here is an exciting opportunity to study a system and its associated technology which could lead to entirely new approaches in Command and Control Systems. The selected candidate will apply their skills and ambition to construction of an advanced prototype system that can perform Rail Sector Threat Intelligence. This project will allow the student to develop transferable knowledge and skills in this most exciting and active field of networking and command and control research.

This Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS) project will be held in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Science at the University of South Wales. KESS is a programme funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) awarded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) in the Welsh Government. The project will focus on validating the feasibility of conducting command and control over a SCADA system via a 5G network. This will be achieved via the construction of an advanced prototype system.

This project is backed by THALES is a large multi-national national company with locations in Wales and the UK. Thales is a company that designs and builds electrical systems and provides services for the aerospace, defence, transportation and CNI/security markets. Recently THALES has created the National Digital Evaluation Centre (NDEC) in Wales. The goal of the NDEC is to function as a research and development platform through which technology can be demonstrated and transferred to a wide community. The R&D problem domain and themes for the NDEC are as follows:

  • Critical National Infrastructure Protection (CNIP). This will include SCADA systems such as road and rail, as well as power generation and distribution.
  • Critical Systems Design. This will include how to reduce complexity – decompose systems – how to measure security & build security into critical partitions.
  • Proactive Cyber Defence (PCD). This will include data analytics for resilience/maintainability and computer/digital-systems forensics. In particular this area will focus upon mitigation strategies for evolving cyber threats.
  • Autonomy and Industrial IOT. This will include novel systems for threat intelligence and artificial intelligence.

Programme of Research:

Mission rehearsal is a critical element of learning. Traditional approaches to cyber-attack training programme focus upon COTS and ICT systems. Currently there are no complex cyber training programs for ICS operators that help trainees identify and experience cyber-attacks and develop successful mitigation and response approaches.

The project seeks to develop and validate a realistic CNI Cyber Security Exercise. In particular, the aims of this project are as follows:

  • To develop a realistic Cyber Security Exercise that represent current state actor’s capability.
  • To validate the exercise through a series of case studies relating to Industrial Process Control Systems in CNI.
  • Utilise modern approaches to learning and education that help facilitate understand and reinforce knowledge uptake.
  • To create realistic industrial control system test-bed leveraging Thales’ reference systems

Studentship: The studentship will cover the fees for a full-time MRes programme and pay a stipend of circa £11.5k p.a. There is also around £3k project support costs available for consumables, travel, minor equipment, training (including the KESS Grad School) and conference attendance. The position is available from 1st January 2020 or April 2020

Eligibility of Student: To be eligible to hold a KESS studentship, you must:

  • have a home address in East Wales area (details below)* at the time of registration.
  • have the right to take up paid work in the East Wales area* on completion of the scholarship.
  • be classified by the University as ‘home’ or ‘EU’ for tuition fees purposes according to the University’s guidelines.
  • satisfy University of South Wales’s admissions criteria: see below, qualifications and experience and application process

*East Wales area covers: Vale of Glamorgan / Cardiff/ Newport/ Monmouthshire/ Powys/ Wrexham/ Flintshire

Qualifications and experience: Eligible applicants will:

  • Have a degree (2i or higher) in an appropriate computer science discipline
  • Possess a reasonable understanding of:
    • Networks and networking and in particular mobile networks;
    • Programming in languages such as JAVA, C++, C and Python;
    • SCADA based industrial process control systems and Industrial IOT.
  • Be highly self-motivated, with capacity to learn and develop new techniques in the area of Realistic CNI Cyber Security Exercising
  • Have well-developed and positively collaborative interpersonal skills
  • Have an ability to deliver technical reports and communicate findings
  • Be willing to travel and work in industrial / clinical / community support settings

Application Process: To download an application package, please visit: Participant Application Package

For any queries on eligibility, please contact: KESS Team at Research and Innovation Services, University of South Wales: Tel: 01443 482578 For informal enquiries or further programme information, please contact: Dr Ian Wilson

Closing date for applications: midnight Wednesday 20th November 2019

Interviews will be held w/c (TBC)

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS) is a pan-Wales higher-level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) programme for East Wales.