School of Computing and Engineering

Virtual Cyber Security Lab on Clouds

Supervisory team: Dr Wei Jie

Start dates: January, May and September of each academic year

Duration: This is a three-year position.

Research context

Research at the University of West London lives in an ecosystem of interdisciplinary research. This PhD position is based in the School of Computing and Engineering.

Hands-on laboratories are essential in Cyber Security related courses. However, building a physical Cyber Security lab involves purchasing significant hardware resources and it could be unaffordable to many educational institutions that intend to run Cyber Security related courses. The daily maintenance and constant upgrading of a physical Cyber Security lab is necessary as Cyber Security is a fast-developing and ever-changing area, but this process will be very expensive in terms of manpower and resource costs. 

Cloud-based virtual Cyber Security labs have received significant attention recently. Clouds provides scalable and flexible computing resources so that the virtual Cyber Security labs can easily adapt to different security course requirements as well as varied size of students with optimised computation and resources. Virtual Cyber Security labs on Clouds also overcome the resource and budget limitations, and meanwhile ease the burden of lab maintenance and upgrading. Hosting Cyber Security labs in the Clouds also enable students to gain and understand Cloud computing technologies and thus benefit their future careers.

Research goal

The School works closely with Amazon UK and takes advantage of Amazon’s world-leading cloud infrastructure, Amazon Web Services, and security solutions. In this project, we will design a Cloud-based Cyber Security lab built on Amazon Clouds to customise, configure, monitor and manage virtual resources in a simulated physical Cyber Security lab environment. More specifically, this project aims to:

  • Design the system architecture of the virtual Cyber Security labs on Amazon Clouds which can be accessed by students in a secure manner. A set of Cloud-based services will be provided for specific course needs.
  • Implementation of the virtual Cyber Security labs on Amazon Clouds aligning with Amazon Web Services (AWS) tools and security solutions.
  • Demonstrate and evaluate the virtual Cyber Security lab. We aim to use this lab in real classroom and experiments will be conducted to evaluate the performance of the virtual lab.

Candidate profile

The ideal candidate should have an MSc or equivalent degree in Computer Science/Cyber Security and combine solid theoretical background and excellent software development skills. Strong commitment to reaching research excellence and achieving assigned objectives is required, as well as an ability to work in a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment. It is expected that the PhD candidate will carry out applied research work that will start from the establishment of a theoretical framework, continue with the implementation of a software prototype and the experimentation with real data, and conclude with the validation of a proposed solution through real applications/case studies.

Background knowledge and/or previous experience in the following areas/technologies, will be considered very favourably: 

  • Cyber Security knowledge and skills
  • Cloud computing architecture, infrastructure, and solution design
  • Amazon Web Services system and software development

All applicants for whom English is not their first language must also demonstrate their English language proficiency through evidence of IELTS at overall 7 (with 6.5 in all four skills) or by providing access to MA/MSc chapters or published work.

Further information

For general enquiries about the application process visit the Graduate School pages.

Questions regarding academic aspects of the project should be directed to