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January 25, 2023

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Hub PhD Opportunity!

A PhD studentship is available at Queen’s University Belfast to work on analysing physical security vulnerabilities in hybrid systems with Quantum Key Distribution and Post-Quantum Cryptography.

The realisation of a large-scale quantum computer is going to completely break the security infrastructure we rely on today as the Quantum algorithms can break the widely used RSA and ECC families of Public Key Cryptography (PKC). There are two major approaches to counter the threat. First is the Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), that can provide the necessary cryptographic primitives like true randomness and secure distribution of keys offering unconditional security, however, its adoption vs. classical computing platforms used today could be challenging and costly. The second solution is to replace the Public Key Cryptography standards in use today by Quantum resistant or Post Quantum Cryptographic schemes (based on mathematical problems not vulnerable to quantum attacks). The Post Quantum Cryptography (PQC) competition, started in 2016 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is aimed to reach (by 2022-23) a suite of winner quantum resistant algorithms for worldwide adoption. A third possibility is a hybrid solution, combining the QKD, PQC and the currently used public key cryptography. This approach is appealing as it will not only help maintain the inter-operability during the migration but also will be practical in terms of being low-cost and high stability. In terms of security as well, it combines the best features of QKD and PQC by ensuring a perfect forward secrecy and cater for different strengths of adversary (both quantum/ classical).

The PhD position is funded by the Quantum Communications Hub that has a capable team of experts from 9 universities and 9 industrial project partners including BT and NPL. This position is hosted by the Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), which is also an academic partner of the Hub. The vision of the Quantum Communications Hub is to establish the national capability to research, develop and exploit the quantum technologies and post quantum schemes into a wider and viable quantum safe security solution for real-world operation.

This project will study the practicability of a Hybrid QKD-PQC quantum resistant cryptographic solutions. Pursuing integration between these technologies and its integration with conventional communications infrastructure brings about a range of vulnerabilities and tackling them will generate strong academic impact across the research community that contribute to these technologies. The key scientific problems it will address are the following

• Undertake a vulnerability analysis of the physical security of integrated PQC-QKD scheme platforms designs including the side channel analysis attacks and/ or fault attacks.
• Investigate and implement countermeasures (to the hardware/ software) of the integrated QKD-PQC systems to protect against physical attacks.

Academic Requirements: A minimum 2.1 honours degree or equivalent in Computer Science or Electrical and Electronic Engineering or relevant degree is required.

This 3.5 year studentship, for full-time PhD study, is funded by UKRI and commences on 1 October 2023. For UK domiciled students the value of an award includes the cost of approved tuition fees as well as maintenance support (Fees £4,596 pa and Stipend rate £17,668 pa – 2023-24 rates to be confirmed).

Additional funding of approx £1,500 is available for travel and consumables annually. To be considered eligible for a full EPSRC studentship award you must have been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom for the full three year period before the first day of the first academic year of the course.

Application Deadline: 30 April 2023

To find out more and apply, visit: