Cybersecurity help wanted: Asperger people

People with Asperger Syndrome have distinct advantages when it comes to combating cyber crime.

Frédéric Vezon has Aspergers. He’s president at ASPertise, an application development, big data and cybersecurity services company that has offices in Paris and Montreal.

The ASP in ASPertise stands for “Asperger Syndrome” — which the company explains as being manifested by significant difficulties in social interaction, associated with restricted interests and repetitive behavior.

A unique value proposition from ASPertise is their team of cybersecurity experts — with Aspergers.

Vezon’s firm expands on the syndrome, stating that Asperger people have difficulty interpreting and adapting to other's nonverbal behaviors (eye contact, facial expressions, body postures, etc.), love repetition and routines, and lack social and emotional reciprocity. These difficulties are often accompanied by other features, such as hypersensitivity to noise or specific kinds of foods, monotonic speech delivery, and resistance to change.

ASPertise says the syndrome is often called the "invisible disability" because people with Aspergers are frequently of normal or above average intelligence and exhibit great intellectual curiosity. The syndrome is then only manifested during social and professional interactions with behaviors that may seem surprising, unexpected or inappropriate that offend the "common sense" and social conventions.

Asperger people — as Vezon calls them — bring distinct advantages when it comes to combating cyber crime. In an email interview, he explained why. His reasons are below.

10 reasons why Asperger people are better at cybersecurity

  1. Most hackers are atypical. A research document from Scotland Yard last year indicates the majority of hackers in England are Aspergers. Some of them are identified; others don’t disclose it.
  2. Aspergers are extremely detailed oriented, which leads to a "no stone unturned" approach to cybersecurity.
  3. Aspergers are cognitively different, so they are naturally "out of the box" and find innovative solutions to problems without the usual cognitive "Blind spot" of non-autistic people.
  4. Aspergers are extremely focused and can have a high level of concentration. They are capable of hyperfocusing and never let go when they are looking for something.
  5. They have a high capacity for analysis. You can find brilliant Asperger people working as Security Operations Center (SOC) analysts, for example.
  6. They have a demonstrated superior capacity to identify patterns. The Israeli army has created an elite squad ("unit 9900") composed solely of Autistics to deduct with pattern recognition troop movements on satellite images.
  7. It’s been scientifically proven that Aspergers are methodological and make more rational decisions (less cognitive biases).
  8. Many Aspergers are "optimal problem solvers" — they focus on finding the best solutions, not one of the best.
  9. Autistics have what is called Specific Interests: They will read and memorize huge amounts of information in an obsessive way and, therefore, excel in their field of expertise.
  10. People on the spectrum search for intellectual stimulation, complex challenges, and many have the "investigator profile," which is highly valuable for forensics and pen testing.

Cybersecurity recruiting initiatives

Cybersecurity Ventures predicts there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021, up from 1 million openings in 2014.

The tech industry is searching for new solutions to crack the code on the growing labor shortage of cyber fighters.

IBM is sponsoring alternative education models, such as Hacker Highschool and Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), while defining new workforce approaches to reach a broader pipeline of employees based on skills, experience and aptitudes, as opposed to traditional hiring models that focus on degrees alone.

Palo Alto Networks and Girl Scouts of the USA recently announced a collaboration with the introduction of 18 new cybersecurity badges. Girls Scouts of all ages will be able to explore opportunities in STEM while developing problem-solving and leadership skills.

ASPertise may be on to the next and biggest wave of cybersecurity recruits — Asperger people. Vezon’s team currently works on physical and wireless network and security assessments, cyber social engineering, domain password audits, architecture development, vulnerability assessments and penetration testing, policy assessments, and firewall rule review.

While artificial intelligence is often hyped as the biggest cybersecurity innovation to curb the workforce shortage, Asperger people may be the real intelligence that organizations need to fill their open positions.

Aspergers, anyone? There's a lot of cybersecurity jobs waiting for you.

Visit SteveOnCyber.com to read all of my blogs and articles covering cybersecurity.

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