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Ph.D. in Computer Science with Cybersecurity Track at Virginia Tech For 2023

Are you curious about how the components of a system interact to drive the behavior of the system as a whole, in areas as varied as social networks, the human brain, language, power grids, financial markets, or gene regulatory networks?

You may be interested in the complex networks and security research (CNSR) track.

With its distinctive interdisciplinary characteristics, the Complex Networks & Security track at Virginia Tech provides a chance to learn about the linkages between theoretical, technical, biological, and social consequences of complex systems in a diversified and multidisciplinary research-oriented curriculum.

You’ll investigate novel answers to challenges in computer science, physics, maths, biology, health, and cognitive and social sciences while you study CNS.

You may look into what makes a YouTube video popular, look into Instagram data to see if there are any medication combinations causing hazardous responses, or create a model that can properly anticipate the spread of disinformation online.

While dispersed networks based on various ecosystems, such as physical or cloud environments, provide significant benefits, they also pose a number of hazards to your clients.

Cybercriminals will be able to target complex networks because there are more entry points and points of interaction than ever before, making it more likely that they will be able to find a vulnerability to exploit, that security measures will fail, and that threats will spread quickly once the perimeter has been breached.

Complex networks face three main security problems.

Ph.D. in Computer Science at Virginia Tech

Professors Tom Hou and Wenjing Lou launched the Complex Networks and Security Research (CNSR) Lab at Virginia Tech in 2011. 

The CNSR@VT lab’s aim is to undertake fundamental and practical research in a wide variety of networking, wireless, and cyber security problems.

We investigate unique concepts and ideas linked to future ubiquitous cyberinfrastructure protocols and systems, as well as scalable architecture and reliable protocols for next-generation networks.

There are two main research thrusts at CNSR@VT: Wireless Networks Research and Cyber Security Research.

1. Wireless Networks Research

The Wireless Networking research group aims to explore new concepts, communication paradigms and technologies for future wireless networks. Areas covered include:

  • Mathematical Modelling and Theoretical Foundation: Interference cancellation modeling and analysis, MIMO ad hoc networks, cognitive radio ad hoc networks, wireless energy transfer
  • Network Optimization: Large-scale, discrete and continuous non-convex optimization problems that arise from cross-layer optimizations involving advanced physical layer technologies
  • Algorithm and Protocol Design: Provably optimal and near-optimal algorithms, distributed algorithms and lightweight protocols for wireless networks (e.g., ad hoc and sensor networks, multi-hop cooperative communications, opportunistic routing, network coding)

2.  Cyber Security Research

The cybersecurity research initiative is an attempt to define a national R&D agenda that is required to enable the country to get ahead of adversaries and produce the technologies.

These futuristic technologies can protect information systems and networks.

  • Blockchain and IoT Security: blockchain-based systems, smart contract, consensus protocol, user data privacy protection, Internet of Things (IoT) security and privacy
  • Security and Privacy in Networked Information System: ABE-based data encryption and sharing, privacy-preserving data outsourcing in cloud computing, search over encrypted data, secure data computation, trusted execution environment (TEE)
  • Wireless Security: security and privacy in wireless networks and mobile computing, confidentiality and authentication, anonymization and information privacy, cognitive radio networks security, cross-layer methods for security enhancement, location privacy
  • Applied Cryptography

Courses Taught by CNSR Faculty at Virginia Tech

CS/ECE 5984: Special Study: Fundamentals of Information Security

This course gives you a thorough overview of the topic of information security. The course starts with an overview of information security fundamentals, using classical cryptosystems as an example. 

Following that, the principles of number theory are covered, with an emphasis on applications to information security. 

The majority of essential cryptographic techniques, such as symmetric and asymmetric cryptography, hash functions, secret sharing schemes, information theory, and elliptical curve cryptography, will be discussed. 

Information security practices, practical algorithms, and crypto standards that have been implemented and are now in use are also examined.

ECE/CS 4570: Wireless Networks and Mobile Systems

ECE/CS 4570 is a multidisciplinary technical design course that covers themes in wireless networks and mobile systems at all levels. 

Through case studies, programming assignments, and experimental projects, the course emphasizes project design experience.

CS 5984: Special Study: Introduction to Cyber Security

The concept of cybersecurity is a hot topic right now. This course gives you a thorough overview of the topic of cyber security. 

The course focuses on the basic ideas and principles of cyber security. Critical components of cybersecurity are identified and explored from both the user and the attacker’s perspectives. 

Cybersecurity practice, practical applications, and security standards that have been established and are in use to offer cyber security are all examined.

The influence of cybersecurity architectures and protocol design principles on the computer and network security is assessed.

CS 6204: Advanced Topics in Systems: Wireless Security

This course is designed for Master’s or Doctoral students who are interested in wireless security research and focuses on chosen research issues of current relevance. 

Students will have a wide understanding of the state-of-the-art and open challenges in wireless security by the conclusion of this course, boosting their capacity to conduct research or seek a career in this rapidly evolving field. 

This course at Virginia Tech is designed as a research seminar, with students or the lecturer presenting research papers from major conferences and publications.

ECE/CS 6564: Multimedia Networking

ECE/CS 6564 is a graduate-level networking course. The course focuses on methods and algorithms for multimedia applications that need rate, delay, and loss. 

Both data and control plane mechanisms and algorithms will be investigated. Both wired and wireless networks will be available in the network configuration. The focus of this course is on network performance analysis.

ECE/CS 6570: Advanced Foundation of Networking at Virginia Tech

This course offers the theoretical underpinnings required for advanced networking studies. It focuses on the most frequent algorithm design and optimization strategies used to address complicated networking challenges. 

Complexity analysis with applications to networking problems, design and proof of approximation algorithms, design of meta-heuristic algorithms, formulation techniques for network optimization, linear and non-linear optimization techniques with applications to networking, and design of distributed algorithms with proof of convergence for networks systems are just a few of the major topics covered.

ECE/CS 5566: Network Architectures and Protocols II

The wireless network is a graduate-level subject in ECE/CS 5566. The course focuses on multi-hop and single-hop wireless network designs and protocols. The goal of this course is to provide students with a thorough grasp of key principles in current wireless networks.

ECE/CS 5565: Network Architectures and Protocols I

ECE/CS 5565 is an introductory graduate-level computer and communication networking course. The course analyzes the many levels of the Internet protocol stack, with a particular focus on the transport, network, and link layers. 

The goal of this course is to provide graduate students with a thorough grasp of basic networking protocols and algorithms.

It should be noted that these courses have compulsory prerequisites for interested candidates.

The Complex Networks and Security Research Lab at Virginia Tech provides the opportunity for graduate students in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science to perform groundbreaking research in wireless networks and cyber security. 

Many of Virginia Tech’s Ph.D. alumni have gone on to have successful careers in industry and academia. 

Professors from

  • Washington University in St. Louis,
  • Purdue University,
  • Ohio State University,
  • Michigan State University,
  • The University of Arizona,
  • George Mason University,
  • Stevens Institute of Technology,
  • the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and
  • the University of Hawaii at Manoa is among the CNSR’s alumni.
Kevin James

Kevin James

I'm Kevin James, and I'm passionate about writing on Security and cybersecurity topics. Here, I'd like to share a bit more about myself. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity from Utica College, New York, which has been the foundation of my career in cybersecurity. As a writer, I have the privilege of sharing my insights and knowledge on a wide range of cybersecurity topics. You'll find my articles here at, covering the latest trends, threats, and solutions in the field.