PhD opening Attack-defense trees for computer security

May 31, 2016

Ph.D. offer

Looking for a Ph.D. thesis that combines computer security and mathematics? IRISA, the computer science laboratory of Rennes in France, seeks to hire an outstanding doctoral student to perform research in the field of formal modeling and analysis of security. The position is within the project entitled "Attack-Defense Trees for Computer Security: Formal Modeling of Preventive and Reactive Countermeasures".

Description of work

Attack-defense trees constitute a methodology to represent how an attacker may compromise a system and how a defender can protect it against potential attacks. The project's objective is to increase the expressive power of attack-defense trees by integrating reactive countermeasures into the formalism. The main tasks of the Ph.D. student will be to

  • Develop mathematical foundations for attack-defense trees distinguishing between protective and reactive countermeasures;
  • Propose quantitative evaluation techniques for attack-defense trees with protective and reactive countermeasures;
  • Validate the extended model in real-life case studies performed in collaboration with industry;
  • Co-supervise master students.

Candidate's profile

The candidate is expected to have

  • A Master degree in computer science or mathematics;
  • A proven interest in formal methods and formal modeling;
  • Excellent written and oral English skills.

Background in computer security will be a plus. Knowledge of French is not required.

Work environment

We offer a three year appointment funded by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research. The successful candidate will participate in the activities of the Embedded Security and Cryptography (EMSEC) research team co-led by Prof. Dr. Gildas Avoine and Prof. Dr. Pierre-Alain Fouque. The student will be supervised jointly by dr. Barbara Kordy and prof. Gildas AvoineIRISA is located in Rennes at the heart of the beautiful Brittany region in the north-west of France. Rennes is situated 60km from the Atlantic Ocean, 60km from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mont Saint-Michel, and 70km from the charming city of Saint Malo. Direct high-speed rail service (TGV) connects Rennes with the center of Paris within 2 hours and with the France's largest international airport Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) within 3 hours.


Applications should be written in English and include the following documents/

  • Motivation letter clearly explaining the candidate's interest in the proposed topic and his/her fit to the position;
  • Curriculum Vitae (including contact information, education and work experience, short description of the master thesis, list of publications, etc.);
  • Transcript of grades from all university-level courses taken;
  • Contact information for 2 referees.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled. Documents should be submitted by e-mail to dr. Barbara Kordy (

Contact information

For further inquiries please contact dr. Barbara Kordy (