PhD position: Improving Security and Privacy of Norwegian Public Sector ICT Healthcare Technologies

Deadline: 01.07.2022

Simula Research Laboratory AS

Simula is a publicly owned research laboratory that conducts research in Information and Communication Technology. Our research is focused in the fields of scientific computing, software engineering, communication systems, machine learning and cybersecurity.

Simula's main objective is to solve fundamental problems of science and engineering that are of genuine value for society. This is achieved through high-quality research, education of graduate students, industry collaboration, and commercialization. Since 2001, scientific evaluations conducted by the Research Council of Norway has repeatedly placed Simula at the forefront of international research in ICT. In the most recent in-depth evaluation, the full range of research at Simula as given the grade of “excellent”.

Simula currently employs approximately 190 individuals from 35 countries and strives to create inclusive working environments. We strive to be an inclusive workplace.

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The aim of this project is to develop novel testing and observation techniques supported by automated tools to improve the security and privacy of ICT technologies deployed in the Norwegian healthcare sector. The ultimate objective is to improve citizens' lives, advance the ICT systems' quality including security and privacy, and accelerate digitalization in the public sector by equipping technical personnel with novel software tools.

This project is connected with two ongoing innovation projects with the public sector, which will provide the candidate access to real-world use cases in the public healthcare domain. The first of these innovation projects is focused on IoT-based welfare technologies from the Oslo Municipality (e.g., connecting various types and numbers of medicine dispensing devices to the IoT platform), while the second project is concerned with cancer registration and support system built by the Cancer Registry of Norway (Kreftregisteret). Both of these systems are vulnerable to security and privacy concerns, such as data breach and loss as well as malicious attacks. While these concerns should be systematically addressed during the design of these systems, it is imperative to continuously monitor such concerns in real-time to prevent occurrences of unexpected events.

In conducting this project, we will use a variety of cutting-edge technologies for addressing loopholes, security, and privacy concerns of the ICT technologies under test, including neural networks, reinforcement learning, and generative adversarial networks together with digital twins. Various complementary techniques will be used to span the different stages of the software development life cycle. For the design time testing techniques, we will explore the use of fuzz testing techniques to fail, overload, or hang the system, as well as injecting unsafe and unwanted behavior through remote code execution and SQL injection. Moreover, for operation time, we will employ anomaly detection techniques to expose security and privacy threats in real-time.

In addition, we will develop novel testing mechanisms and techniques to ensure the smooth and reliable operation of healthcare technologies under uncertain environments. Modeling, verifying, and validating such technologies under uncertainty is a well-known challenge, which requires carefully designed, efficient, and intelligent solutions.

Since the unpredictable behavior of healthcare technologies may lead to safety risks, which in turn can adversely affect both healthcare providers and patients, this project presents a unique opportunity for the PhD candidate to have a lasting real-world impact on the public health care system.

Summary of the goals:

  • To develop novel design time and runtime security and privacy testing techniques for real-world systems in the public sector operating under uncertain environments.
  • To demonstrate the practical application of the techniques that will be developed and facilitate their adoption in the public sector.
  • To facilitate the development of generic security and privacy testing solutions that can be customized for other healthcare systems.

Additional information relevant to the project:

  • AIT4CR - AI-Powered Testing Infrastructure for Cancer Registry System
  • WTT4Oslo - Improving Quality of IoT-based Welfare Technology Solutions in the City of Oslo

Candidate profile

Applicants are expected to have a Master’s degree in computer science or software engineering. The following items form a wish list for skills and experiences of an ideal candidate; however, candidates who do not have background in all of the listed skills but are eager to learn, are still encouraged to apply.

  • Excellent programming skills in multiple languages such as Java, C++, Python, etc.
  • Strong understanding of software engineering principles, in particular software testing (unit testing, fuzz testing, metamorphic testing)
  • Hands-on experience with modern programming tools such as Git, Docker, and continuous integration.
  • Knowledge of AI techniques and ML/DL frameworks such as Tensorflow, Pytorch, Keras, as well as evolutionary/genetic algorithms (e.g., JMetal).
  • The candidate will also have to demonstrate an excellent level of spoken and written English, possess good interpersonal and communication skills and show willingness to work as part of an international team.

Curriculum and PhD training

The specific courses to be included in the curriculum will be decided based on the background and interests of the candidate. In order to ensure successful completion of the project, student progress will be closely monitored by the supervisor(s) and through regular meetings with Simula’s PhD coordinator.

In addition, the candidate will be enrolled in Simula’s training programs for early career researchers, which including both research-specific skills (e.g., grant writing, supervision) and transferrable skills (e.g., public speaking, project management), the combination of which opens a broad array of future career paths, academic as well as non-academic.

Simula offers:

  • Excellent opportunities for performing high quality research, as part of a highly competent and motivated team of international researchers and engineers.
  • An informal and inclusive international working environment.
  • Generous support for travel and opportunities to build international networks, through conferences, established collaboration with industry, and exchange
  • programs and research visits with other universities.
  • Modern office facilities located in downtown Oslo, Norway.
  • A competitive salary. Starting salary from NOK 491.200
  • Numerous benefits: access to company cabins, sponsored social events, generous equipment budgets (e.g., computer, phone and subscription), subsidized canteen
  • meals, comprehensive travel/health insurance policy, etc.
  • Relocation assistance: assistance with visas, complimentary Norwegian language
  • courses, temporary accommodation, etc.
  • Administrative research support: e.g., quality assurance process for grant proposals
  • (including RCN and EU programs).
  • Professional development and researcher training opportunities through the Simula Academy.
  • Flexibility in working conditions: our employees’ health and well-being is a priority and we encourage them to make use of our flexible work arrangements to help
  • balance their work and home lives efficiently.

Application requirements:

The application must include:

  1. A cover letter summarising the candidate’s background and motivation, relevant experience and qualifications, and listing in ranked order the project(s) to which the candidate wishes to apply.
  1. Curriculum vitae: educational background, any prior research experience and specific research project involvement, working experience (in particular, any relevant academic or industrial work), list of publications (e.g., scientific papers and publication of conference contributions)
  1. Copies of transcripts and diplomas from Bachelor and Master’s degrees. If you have not yet have your Master’s diploma, please submit your transcripts for your graduate courses so far.
  1. Letters of reference, and contact information (name, current position, relation to the candidate, phone and email) for up to three academic and research-oriented referees.

All of the above should be submitted via the provided form below – applications submitted by email will not be considered.

Note: For non-native English speakers, proof of competency with English is generally required for entrance to the doctoral program. Standardized test results or completion of a University degree in an English-speaking country is suitable.

Application deadline:

We are accepting applications until 1 July, 2022.

However, applications will be evaluated on a continuous basis until the position has been filled.

Working at Simula:

Interested candidates are encouraged to read more about the working environment and training opportunities at Simula. Here are some useful links

Main supervisor and contact:

Simula Research Laboratory uses Semac´s background check in our recruitment process.

According to the Norwegian Freedom and Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

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