PhD position: Behavioural factors in security incident response

PhD position: Behavioural factors in security incident response

Published Deadline Location
13 May 14 Jun Delft

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Job description

The energy system is the backbone of modern society, and is managed by human operators. Digitalisation paves the way for energy transition towards carbon neutrality and energy system integration. This development also makes energy systems more reliant on ICT, making the cyber security and resilience requirements even more critical. The RESCUE project develops methods and technologies for incident response to protect utilities from state-sponsored cyber attacks and cyber secure the Control Room of the Future. It improves operational resilience of integrated cyber-physical energy systems to such threats by combining human factors, security monitoring, and incident response strategies, and by training system operators to deal with the ever-growing cyber threats.

Currently, the circumstances that influence an effective operator response to incidents are not known. Effective interaction of operators with technology is key to ensure adequate processing of signals, warnings, and alarms that may indicate the presence of a cyber threat. To make sensible predictions of the effectiveness of incident response with security games, and match control room designs to psychological capabilities, we need to acquire a more detailed understanding of the circumstances that influence effective operator responses. We undertake this research with real operators and other professionals affiliated with our project partners TenneT, ENCS, DNV GL, and Siemens.

We are seeking a motivated PhD applicant to work with us on understanding how to facilitate an effective system operator response to incidents. This will involve not only analysis of the circumstances which influence operator responses to warnings, but also working processes, situational awareness and prioritization, and other relevant workplace factors. The project will involve engagement with energy system operators, through interviews, surveys, and scenario exercises, with the potential for observational studies and secondments as the project progresses. These activities will inform effective, secure working practices and recommendations for system operators in control rooms.

Your degree and experiences could be from social science or behavioural sciences, or an interdisciplinary program, with a willingness to learn about the technical factors in securing energy system control rooms. You would work in close collaboration with researchers from electrical engineering and computer science disciplines.

The candidate will be part of an interdisciplinary team at TU Delft, of over 20 scientists who jointly research cybersecurity issues. The team consists of people from different disciplines, countries, and backgrounds. We also work with government organizations and leading security solutions providers who are developing policies and practices for organizations. The PhD candidate will have the opportunity to present their work at international conferences, and to collaborate with the world's leading researchers working towards a secure digital future.

The PhD will also be collaborating closely with experts in work psychology and security tasks at Radboud University, Netherlands.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)



  • In possession or expect to obtain a master of Science (MSc) or equivalent in a social science / behavioural science or in a field investigating the human aspects of information security.
  • English language skills
  • Dutch is a plus because we will also conduct interviews with Dutch users
  • Good academic writing skills and excellent communication skills
  • Being able to organize your work independently
  • Curious and critical mind
  • Can work together in an interdisciplinary team

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2443 per month in the first year to € 3122 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context. At TU Delft we embrace diversity and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact! 


Faculty Technology, Policy and Management

With its excellent education and research at the intersection of technology, society and policy, the Faculty of TPM makes an important contribution to solving complex technical-social issues, such as energy transition, mobility, digitalisation, water management and (cyber) security. We combine insights from the engineering sciences, the social and the humanities. We develop robust models and designs, are internationally oriented and have an extensive network with knowledge institutions, companies, social organisations and governments.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • €2443—€3122 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD02273


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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