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VACANCY: PhD position in Personalised Cybersecurity Risk Measurement

posted Feb 20, 2020, 4:32 AM by Marco Spruit   [ updated Mar 2, 2020, 2:18 PM ]
Fulltime PhD student or postdoc position in Personalised Cybersecurity Risk Measurement at Utrecht University

Job description

The Applied Data Science lab at Utrecht University (UU) seek to appoint a full-time and fully funded PhD student for the 4.8M EUR Horizon2020 EU project “GEIGER: The Geiger Cybersecurity Counter” on the topic “Digital Security and privacy for citizens and Small and Medium Enterprises and Micro Enterprises” (SU-DS03-2019-2020). This project builds in part upon the achievements of the SMESEC Horizon2020 EU project.
NB: We also invite qualified postdoc researchers in cybersecurity and data science to apply for a 2.5 years appointment.

The GEIGER project consists of 19 partners who will collaboratively develop an innovative solution with associated components and an Education Ecosystem addressing security, privacy and data protection risks of and for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Micro-enterprises (SMEs & MEs) in Europe. GEIGER will be developed in analogy of a GEIGER counter for detecting atomic radiation threatening human life. The GEIGER solution will be used for assessing, monitoring, and forecasting risks and reducing these risks by improving the SMEs’ & MEs’ security with well-curated tools, and an education program targeting practitioners-in-practice as “Certified Security Defenders” bringing security expertise sustainably to SMEs&MEs using existing vocational education frameworks.

At its core GEIGER consists of a GEIGER Indicator that dynamically summarizes the current level of risk by evaluating measures undertaken for security defences among the participating SMEs & MEs. The GEIGER Indicator can be personalised by registering the enterprise’s profile and supports GDPR-compliant sharing and exchanging data about incidents. The GEIGER Toolbox allows stepwise doit-yourself assessment and improvement of the SMEs’ & MEs’ security, privacy, and data protection with lightweight controls and advice for improved protection at varied levels of sophistication. The included tools offer endpoint, server, and network protection and guide the SME&ME in a personalised manner in data hygiene, including access and security control, data privacy management, and backup practices.

The GEIGER Education Ecosystem offers experimental-based training and cyber range-enabled challenges and will be integrated into curricula of diverse professions of non-ICT experts, offering direct impact on SMEs&MEs through target group-oriented education. The GEIGER solution will be demonstrated in three complementary use cases within three countries. GEIGER will achieve sustainable impact by raising awareness of more than one million SMEs&MEs within a period of 2.5 years after start.

The PhD student’s main tasks are to design and develop the personalised GEIGER Indicator, to co-develop a Cybersecurity knowledge graph relating all knowledge within security standards, and to lead the evaluation of the GEIGER solution in the three extensive use cases.


  1. The candidate should have (before 1 June 2020) an MSc in Data Science, Computer Science, Information Science, Information Security, Cybersecurity, Artifical Intelligence, Computational Linguistics, or other relevant area.
  2. You have excellent programming skills (at least in Python).
  3. You also have good English language skills in both academic writing and presentation.
  4. You are a team player, comfortable with working in a complex project involving multidisciplinary colleagues in different research groups.
  5. (For postdocs only:) You have a track record of publications in impact journals.
In a nutshell, you are ideally proficient in and enthousiastic about
  • Data Science and Natural Language Processing -- from personalised metric design to component implementation utilising, integrating and benchmarking various data and knowledge sources;
  • Cybersecurity -- assessing practices and standardisation processes; and
  • Pursuing European societal impact -- educating domain professionals in cybersecurity such as SME apprentices, accountants, and start-ups.

Additional information

For more information, please contact Dr. Marco Spruit, associate professor Applied Data Science (UU), m.r.spruit AT uu DOT nl.

Please note that the GEIGER project and, therefore, this position will commence on June 1, 2020. You need not apply if you are still unavailable after this fixed start date. However, if you think you qualify and are interested, or if you think you know someone who may be qualified and interested in pursuing a PhD, please contact us for more information.

Applications should address each of the criteria mentioned under qualifications, and include the following documents:
  • cover letter;
  • curriculum vitae;
  • copy of a recent publication;
  • copy of relevant (PhD/MSc/MA) diplomas and grades.
Please do not submit your application by email but use the offical UU application link instead.

The application deadline is Thursday 28 March 2020.