Joining Eran Tromer's research group


Eran Tromer's group at Tel Aviv University is studying a variety of research problems in information security and cryptography. We have open positions in several projects, on a variety of topics.

Research directions and projects

Here are some of the things you could do in the group:

  • Analyze physical side-channel leakage (power, RF, acoustic) from computers and embedded devices, in LEISec, from several possible angles:
    • Physical leakage (electromagnetic, acoustic etc.)
    • Signal processing and machine learning
    • Protcols of various embedded devices
    • Cryptanalysis
  • Improve the integrity and privacy of computation using SCIPR Lab's proof systems:
    • Improve the cryptographic and algorithmic foundations of the proof systems.
    • Apply these systems in novel software and hardware implementations.
  • Design and prototype a secure platform stack: CPU, operating system and compiler.
  • Reverse-engineer low level communication protocols (wireless and wired) and their software implementations.
  • Develop algorithms for reverse-engineering.
  • Improve security in mobile platforms, such as Android phones.
  • Design and implement cryptographic protocols.
  • Build fast implementations of algorithms, using clusters, GPGPUs, or FPGA/ASIC designs.
  • Identify exciting new research problems in the realm of cryptography, security and algorithms.

To see other recent projects, see Publications.

Requisite background

Research in this area typically requires very high programming proficiency, general computer problem-solving, and working in quirky environments such as Unix shell and LaTeX (or at least the willingness and dedication to spend nights learning these as you go). Other background, such as mathematics and electronics, depends on the project.

You also need excellent communication skills and good English language skills, in order to read papers and documentation, write up your results, and communicate with colleagues. Incidentally, your application email (see below) is a good opportunity to demonstrate these skills, by clearly addressing all pertinent points.

Location

The Laboratory for Experimental Information Security, located in Tel Aviv University's Schreiber building, hosts experimental research on side channels and computer platforms. The Check Point Institute for Information Security lab, in the adjacent Shenkar Physics building, hosts theory and programming research. We also make extensive use of videoconference links with our collaborators in Israel and abroad. Work hours are very flexible. Working from home may be possible, depending on circumstances, but usually you will be expected to spend a large portion of your time physically at the lab.

Especially for long-term positions, there is occasional international travel to our collaborators or to conferences abroad (fully funded by the lab).

Position types

Here is a brief explanation of the different kinds of open positions in the group:

  • Graduate students are registered for Ph.D. or M.Sc. studies at Tel Aviv University, and are advised in their thesis research. The thesis should advance the state of the art, and demonstrate the student's skills, originality and mastery of a subject area. Graduate students are paid a monthly scholarship (which varies with seniority). Graduate students (especially Ph.D.) are often involved in multiple projects, and typically also serve as teaching assistants in courses.

    Full-time dedication to research is highly recommended. Dedicating less than 3 full days per week to research is rarely fruitful, and will be considered only in exceptional cases: it requires excellent existing skills sufficient to make rapid progress on a well-defined project, and it requires the ability to temporarily suspend other obligations (e.g., take leaves) if research schedule or the deadlines so demand.

  • Research assistants and engineers are paid a salary based on working hours. There are no formal academic degree requirements, but we expect people in this position to have existing proficiency in the relevant skills. The work may be independently innovative, or may be a technical part of a larger project.

  • Student projects count toward completion the degree requirements, and are unpaid. It is common to continue such research as a graduate student or research assistant. Projects take three forms:

    • Undergraduate workshop classes in the TAU School of Computer Science (e.g., Workshop in Information Security, given by Eran Tromer on the 2nd semester every year)
    • Undergraduate final projects in the TAU School of Electrical Engineering
    • Graduate final project for M.Sc. without thesis in the TAU School of Electrical Engineering
  • Postdoctoral fellows are full-time positions for researchers who hold a Ph.D. degree. Postdoctoral fellows are often involved in multiple projects, pursue independent research interests, and lead other lab personnel.

    Salaries/scholarships in our group are very competitive on the academic scale. Members of the group typically get dedicated office/lab space and a laptop computer.

  • Volunteers sometimes participate in our research, when circumstances do not let them enter the aforementioned positions.

Applying

To inquire about joining, email Eran Tromer. Our goal is then to understand which project best suits you, in terms of your skills, background and availability. To help us figure this out, explain the following in your email:

Which projects sound interesting, and why? Do you have independent ideas for security/cryptography projects, or have found bugs in our papers, or are you particularly excited about some problem?

What relevant background do you have, via academic education, prior work/projects, informal experience, training courses, and so forth?

What type of position are you interested in, and how much time can you dedicate? What are your long-term plans? (See "position types" above with regard to our expectations.)

Please attach a CV, grade transcript, and links or documents about exciting things you've done.