PhD position - Privacy and security analytics

The Netherlands - PhD
More than two weeks ago

You will work within Philips’ Data Science department whose mission is to lead Philips into the Digital era through world-class innovations based on data science. 

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The job

Imec-DistriNet collaborates with Philips (Netherlands) and the University of Macerata (Italy) in the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie project HEART (MSCA-ITN Industrial Doctorate - Grant Agreement No. 766139, HEART investigates the design and development of a "HEalth related Activity Recognition system based on the Internet-of-Things (IoT); HEART is an international, intersectoral and interdisciplinary training program providing PhD Fellowships to 6 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs). This ESR will focus on privacy/security for the HEART solution (e.g. on security/privacy threat assessment, domain-specific protection patterns for e-health applications, privacy-by-design).


ESR will work within Philips’ Data Science department whose mission is to lead Philips into the Digital era through world-class innovations based on data science. The focus of the department is on applying and advancing the automated methods used to extract new insights/knowledge from data. The department builds on several interconnected competences including machine learning, statistics, probability models, pattern recognition, computer vision, signal processing and data engineering. We use the advances in the aforementioned scientific disciplines, as well as new digital platforms to create innovation for Philips businesses by extracting insights from various sources like health records, sensors, mobile devices, Web, and social networking sites. Next to that, security and privacy are addressed and taken into account already in the design phase of Philips digital propositions. The department plays a crucial role in digital and data intensive research projects using these competences.


In the domains of smart homes and healthcare, the life of people is improved by devices that gather personal data and process it, into relevant health information using third party smart services and technology providers (e.g. cloud and Big Data analytics services). While the use of IoT devices can bring advantages in terms of efficiency, convenience, and costs, their use raises privacy concerns regarding the users and their personal activity data. The sensitive nature of this data and sharing it with a centralized server (e.g. cloud) raise privacy concerns, even if the latter is well protected. These privacy concerns can be addressed by using an end-to-end approach to privacy and data protection and building systems with privacy embedded in the system architecture, while coherently integrating health-specific privacy, security and legal requirements.

The following objectives are proposed:

  • Perform security and privacy threat assessment of the proposed HEART architecture;
  • Create a reusable domain-specific IoT knowledge base for state-of-the-art security and privacy threat assessment.
  • Design systems with privacy embedded in the system architecture design (e.g. using early risk assessment)
  • Identify existing privacy and security solutions that can enhance a wearables-centric architecture.
  • Design and develop threat analysis and analytics for security in order to identify irregular, undesired and/or prohibited system behavior
  • Invent and validate in industrial project teams new digital security technologies for use in Philips products and services;
  • Participate in research projects that address digital security challenges, create intellectual property and transfer the results to Philips businesses;
  • Contribute to the Philips research roadmap by new ideas and winning new proposals.


  • Novel privacy-enabled system architectures.
  • Efficient privacy by design for data sharing systems.
  • Adoption of the newly designed solutions in industry (Philips products).

SUPERVISORS: Milan Petkovic (, Daniel Pletea ( Wouter Joosen (



  • Degree: Master degree with distinction (cum laude) in computer science, mathematics or another relevant area.
  • Language: English proficiency must be attested either through a previous English language diploma, or an internationally recognised proficiency test (at least C1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages i.e. IELTS, IBT, TOEFL or Cambrigde).
  • Career: When starting their contract (January 2018), selected researchers should be within the first four years of their research careers. This means being both within a four year window following their most recent graduation and not having been awarded a prior doctoral degree so far.
  • Mobility: At the date of recruitment, the researcher must not have resided, or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc) in the country of the hiring institution for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date.
  • Application: Complete and timely submission exclusively via the HEART on-line application system. Documents submitted must be in English. If supporting documents (eg. letters of academic references and scan of degree qualification) are not in English, they must be submitted together with a certified translation in English).

DESIRABLE REQUIREMENTS: A strong inclination to and background in digital security and /or cryptography, software engineering, privacy protection and security risk analysis, preferably proven by relevant scientific results.


For more information please look into the Call for Applications (see attachment) and the HEART project web site (

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