PhD Cost-effectiveness in cyber law-enforcement and intelligence operations

University of Groningen

Faculty of Law

This position is one of 15 Early Stage Researcher (ESR) Fellowships funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA), under the European Commission’s H2020 Work Programme. The selected ESRs will conduct doctoral research on a unique research topic as part of the project “Evolving Security SciencE through Networked Technologies, Information policy And Law (ESSENTIAL)”. ESSENTIAL seeks to: a) train interdisciplinary security experts and professionals to tackle security threats in a systematic manner and b) increase societal resilience and security by addressing in an interdisciplinary manner 15 research topics associated with long-standing problems in the field of security science. This ESR is jointly supervised by the University of Groningen and the University of Malta, Malta.

This position is hosted by the Faculty of Law of the University of Groningen. The Faculty of Law is a modern, internationally oriented institution with a four-hundred-year-long tradition. The Faculty of Law has over 3700 students and almost 350 staff members and is thus one of the largest faculties of the University of Groningen. The selected candidate will work with other colleagues in the Security, Technology and e-Privacy Research Group (STeP) organised within the Department of European and Economic Law. STeP consists of an interdisciplinary team of researchers collaborating with other departments in the faculty and/or funded by externally raised funds and international guests-researchers. The team covers many areas of information policy & technology law including privacy, data protection, security sciences, surveillance, cybercrime, self-regulation and health informatics. The STeP Research Group currently co-ordinates and participates in a number of European funded projects researching themes similar to this call.

Job description
This research project (ESR14) will research: Cost-effectiveness in cyber-threat-related law-enforcement and intelligence operations.
Objectives: This research will aim to set a framework to approach the development of intelligence in the cyber domain by assessing the cyber threat dynamic, economic costs of cyber-attacks and security, and the current European and non-European approaches to cyber intelligence. It will also seek to develop a theoretical framework on what are the costs and benefits associated with intelligence and security operations as well as develop a metric system for measuring them.

Expected outcomes: The overall result will be a dissertation that includes a theoretical and practical approach to cost-effectiveness in producing cyber-intelligence. As part of the process of researching and exploring this challenging theme ESR 14 will publish at least two peer-reviewed journal articles analysing current practices in cyber-intelligence, a metric system which can be employed to assess cost-effectiveness in producing cyber-intelligence, participate and present in one workshop, write two research reports and a final dissertation.

Main supervisor: Prof. Hans Vedder, University of Groningen (RUG).
Co-supervisor: Prof. Joseph Cannataci, University of Malta (UOM), Malta.

Planned secondments: University of Malta (UOM), Malta, “Mihai Viteazul” National Intelligence Academy (MVNIA), Romania and Økokrim, Norway.

Eligibility for admission will be determined by considering the combination of the candidate’s academic qualifications and relevant professional experience according to the table which you will find on:

Candidates who have completed their master degree in an institution where English is not the language of instruction must present one of the following Secure English Language Test (SELT) results as follows:
• TOEFL Internet-Based (iBT) – an overall score of at least 94 with a score of at least 25 in the writing section and 23 in each of the other sections.
• Academic IELTS – an overall score of at least 7 with a score of at least 7 in the writing component and 6.5 in each of the other components.
• The test results must not be older than 24 months on the date of the application deadline.

Selection criteria:
• quality of the candidate assessed through the candidate’s academic merit and relevant professional experience
• candidates with a proven track record in the fields of intelligence operations, cost–benefit analysis, or computer science/IT will be given preference
• it would be an advantage if the candidate has had work experience in the fields of cyber-criminal investigation, computer security, secure communication systems
• the candidate should also possess a sound working knowledge of quantitative, qualitative, and statistical methods and mastery of relevant statistical software.

Personal attributes:
• excellent oral and written communication skills and an ability to communicate effectively across different stakeholder groups
• flexibility and ability to take direction and accommodate feedback from diverse stakeholders
• ability to work both individually and in a (virtual) team environment
• leadership skills
• ability to meet deadlines and produce work of a consistently high standard.

Please note there are strict eligibility requirements that apply to all Marie Skłodowska-Curie Researchers:
• the candidate must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to his/her recruitment under the project (short stays such as holidays are not counted)
• at the time of recruitment, the candidate must not have been awarded a doctorate degree and must be in the first 4 years of his/her research career
• the candidate must work exclusively for the project during the employment contract
• the candidate must fulfil the conditions to be admitted in the PhD programme indicated in the Job Vacancy.

Researchers can be of any nationality. They are required to undertake transnational mobility (i.e. move from one country to another) when taking up their appointment. Nationality is therefore not a criterion. Rather the location of the researcher's residence or main activity during the 3 years prior to their recruitment is determining.

For further information on Marie Skłodowska-Curie schemes and eligibility please visit

Conditions of employment
Contract length: 36 months.
The position offered is for three years (36 months) at full time employment. Each successful candidate will first be offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another two years. Prolongation of the appointment is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the appointment period is to be expected. In accordance with Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA), the salary will consist of € 38,924.76 per year. Note that this rate includes the employer's costs i.e. national insurance contribution and government bonus. Mobility Allowance is € 7,200 per year per researcher. Family Allowance (where applicable at the time of recruitment) is € 6,000 per year per researcher (all amounts stated are before taxation). The starting date is 1 June 2017 or as soon as possible thereafter. Application You may apply for this position until 4 January 23.59h / before 5 January 2017 Dutch local time by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below the advertisement on the university website). Applications should include: • motivation letter (500 words) • curriculum vitae including a list of publication and the names and contact information of 2 references • copies of academic certificates and transcripts • a brief research proposal addressing the topic of the research project (500-1000 words) • English proficiency results if applicable. Shortlisted applicants will be notified by 9 January 2017. Interviews are planned for the week starting 16 January 2017. Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information
For additional information, please contact:
Prof. Jeanne Pia Mifsud Bonnici (for an informal discussion regarding this position)

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 216322
Extra informatie kan worden verkregen via een van de volgende links:

ESSENTIAL project and the 15 Early Stage Researcher (ESR) Fellowships

Digital application form