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The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Karlstad University, Sweden, is now accepting applications for a doctoral studentship leading to a PhD with a specialisation in BPF security and safety in Linux. The position is a collaboration between the Distributed Systems and Communications (DISCO) and Privacy and Security (PriSec) research groups at Karlstad University and Red Hat Research.

Research within DISCO includes the development of transport and application layer protocols, techniques for low-latency communication, performance measurement and monitoring, and the design of future 5G wireless systems including the use of NFV/SDN and cloud-based RAN and core networks. PriSec does research on a variety of topics ranging from interdisciplinary research on usable security and privacy to traffic analysis and contributions to the Tor Project. Ongoing research includes explainability of privacy-preserving machine learning and improved low-cost traffic analysis attacks using side channels (e.g. involving DNS).

Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of enterprise open source solutions, using a community-powered approach to deliver high-performing Linux, cloud, container, and Kubernetes technologies. Red Hat contributes to many applied research projects relevant in the open source world, including high-performance programmable networking solutions using technologies such as eXpress Data Path (XDP) and Berkeley Packet Filter (BPF).

The usage of BPF in the context of Linux is rapidly evolving and expanding with a growing community. In parallel, efforts to improve the security of Linux (e.g. kernel lockdown mode) pose challenges to the secure and safe use of user-space provided BPF.


A doctoral student is mainly expected to engage in doctoral studies. The doctoral programme comprises 240 higher education credits, including the doctoral thesis.

The position is focused on security and safety of Linux systems in a BPF-powered hybrid user space/kernel world. The work includes threat modelling, extending the BPF verifier, memory safety concerns, and interactions between BPF and features of the Linux kernel such as kernel lockdown mode and cgroups. A key activity is to better understand when (and potentially where in the kernel) BPF is clearly safe or unsafe to use, and work towards expanding the safe use of BPF by investigating possible solutions to the identified barriers.

The doctoral student is expected to carry out research in this area by combining security evaluations with the design of new security mechanisms as well as practical experiments and implementation. Knowledge and/or experience within one or more of the areas of kernel programming, practical work with Linux/Unix, security evaluations (e.g. threat modelling, vulnerability research), security engineering, and data analysis are therefore valuable qualifications. Excellent programming skills are required.

The doctoral student is expected to work independently, as well as in teams, enthusiastically advancing the technology frontline. A majority of the work will be done in cooperation with other scientists and engineers from Red Hat, and it is therefore desirable that the doctoral student is able to perform well in collaborative work and has experience of working in projects.

As per the agreement between Karlstad University and Red Hat Research, research results from the collaboration shall be made freely available to the public. In particular, developed software should be released under suitable open-source licences and publications made available as open access.

Qualification requirements

To be eligible for doctoral studies, the applicant is required to meet the general and specific entry requirements (Higher Education Ordinance, Chap. 7, Sect. 35).

To meet the general entry requirements, the applicant must have been awarded a second-cycle qualification; satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second-cycle; or acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad. (Higher Education Ordinance, Chap 7, Sect. 39).

To meet the specific entry requirements, the applicant must hold a Degree of Master (60 or 120 ECTS credits) in Computer Science, hold a Degree of Master of Science in Computer Engineering, or in some other way have acquired equivalent knowledge, in the country or abroad.

Admission and assessment criteria

To be eligible for doctoral studies, the applicant must be considered to have the ability required to benefit from the course or study programme (Higher Education Ordinance, Chap. 7, Sect. 35). Admission is based on individual assessments with a focus on the intended duties. Proficiency in spoken and written English is required.


Upon admission to doctoral studies, the person will be offered the appointment of doctoral student (Higher Education Ordinance, Chap. 5, Sect. 3). The doctoral studentship is a fixed-term position comprising four years of full-time studies. If the doctoral student accepts additional duties in research, teaching, or administration that are not included in the doctoral studies, the term duration can be extended by up to one year. These duties may not account for more than 20% of full-time.

The start date is 1 September 2021, or as negotiated.

The salary for the doctoral studentship corresponds to the standard level of salary for doctoral students at Karlstad University.

Further information

Karlstad University places great value on the enriching presence of diverse backgrounds and gender balance in the organisation. We welcome applicants with different cultural backgrounds, gender identities, functional abilities, and life experiences.


Submit the application via the University’s web-based recruitment tool, Varbi. Applicants are responsible for submitting a complete application in accordance with the advertisement and for ensuring that the documentation allows for objective and qualitative assessments. A complete application should be submitted no later than the application deadline. An incomplete application may jeopardise a fair assessment of qualifications. Include at least two references, at least one of which should be from a current or previous supervisor or equivalent.

The application should include:

  • A cover letter where the applicant details the reasons behind their interest in the position
  • A list of qualifications (CV)
  • Degree certificate with a complete transcript of the courses included, or a certified list of completed courses with grades and dates
  • Copy of Master’s thesis (60 or 120 ECTS credits) or similar
  • Where applicable, copies of publications or certificates for other qualifications
  • Contact details for at least two references

Attach all the documents and publications you wish to be considered to the electronic application (do not just provide links). Name each uploaded document to clearly indicate its content.

Send non-electronic documents to:

Karlstad University

Att. Maria Möller

Faculty of Health, Science and Technology

651 88 Karlstad Sweden


Label all documents included in your application with the reference number, REK 2021/111.

Application deadline: 31 August 2021

We look forward to your application!


Type of employment Temporary position
Contract type Full time
First day of employment 1 September 2021, or as negotiated.
Salary Standard level of salary for doctoral students at Karlstad University
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100
City Karlstad
County Värmlands län
Country Sweden
  • Tobias Pulls, 054 700 2475
  • Anna Brunström, 054 700 1795
Union representative
  • Thomas Bragefors, SACO, 054-700 1714
  • Denita Gustavsson, OFR, 054-700 1434
  • Tony Ingemarsson, Lärarförbundet, 054 700 1404
Published 12.May.2021
Last application date 31.Aug.2021 11:59 PM CEST

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