Special skills for special security problems

I was pleased to read in the Sunday Telegraph that GCHQ values the security skills of dyslexic young people, employing over 100 dyslexic and dyspraxic neuro-diverse analysts. I fully support this idea. Unfortunately most professional development schemes fail to recognize these abilities, generally promoting dull management capabilities rather than sharp analysis skills.

Eventually this will change, though the transition will be slow. There are however a few catalysts. My book “Managing the Human Factor in Information Security” hinted at these skills but failed to lead a revolution. It was however one of the first security books to point out the importance of cognitive skills, such as problem solving, attention to detail, curiosity, pattern recognition, and systems thinking.

Vinod Patel, a father of two boys with autism, has been more successful. He advocates the use of graduates with high functioning Autism or Asperger’s to look for patterns and anomalies in big data and use their excellent memory and procedural capabilities to remediate security threats. 

He has already developed a ready workforce of appropriately skilled practitioners, as well as a source of additional resources through the National Autistic Society, with the support of Professor Baron-Cohen of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge. Vinod has found some success in persuading security companies to exploit their talents.  Just check out this remarkable video.

Isn‘t that a great security story?