Autistic individuals have greatly contributed to our society and have earned their places in our history books. One noteworthy individual is Albert Einstein. He developed the theory of relativity and is now known as the father of theoretical physics. Another extraordinary individual with autism is Alan Turing, the man who cracked the Nazi Enigma code. His contributions ultimately helped the Allies win World War II. These individuals, much like other individuals with autism, excelled because they were detail-oriented and could think outside the box. This illustrates that, when society gives a voice to people who think differently, the possibilities are endless. Furthermore, modern technology advancement found a surprising new area for autistic individuals to excel in: cybersecurity.
Autism is common spectrum disorder that is usually characterized by impaired social skills, communication, and repetitive behaviors. However, these individuals often possess unique strengths as well. A common societal prejudice is that autistic individuals have lower intelligence, which is supported by lower IQ tests. However, this is not necessarily true. Scientists have found that a lot of genes that code for autism also code for high intelligence.
Furthermore, autistic brains often are larger and have more synapses, or cell-to-cell communications, than the average person’s brain. Combined, these studies indicate that autism is a disease of higher intelligence. However, the lower IQ tests indicate imbalanced intelligence. This paradox means that these individuals are very, very smart in certain areas, but average or below average in others.
Autism in Cybersecurity
Overall, there is a massive labor shortage in cybersecurity, which has had profound effects on the nation as a whole. By 2019, the damage caused by cyber-attacks by terrorists and other hostile individuals is expected to exceed $2 trillion. Furthermore, businesses recently began recruiting autistic individuals to fill their cybersecurity shortage. According to recent studies, ¾ of cognitively-able autistic individuals score high in aptitudes and interests that strongly correlate to cybersecurity careers. With this in mind, innovative firms such as Microsoft, SAP, Freddie Mac, Gates Foundation, and Milken Institute are already hiring autistic individuals to oversee their cybersecurity, and the results are astonishing. These employees are not only filling the positions that safeguard our nation, but they are also excelling at it. According to interviews with these firms, autistic individuals surpass the general population in protecting our nation from cybersecurity threats because they are very detail-oriented, analytical, methodical, and integrous.
The extent that autistic individuals are outshining others in cybersecurity holds a lot of promise for the future. It goes to show that neuro-diversity in the workplace is essential.
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Resources: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171102131330.htm, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4927579/, https://www.wired.com/2016/11/autistic-people-can-solve-cybersecurity-crisis/, https://www.forbes.com/sites/kateoflahertyuk/2018/09/10/how-employing-autistic-people-can-help-stop-cyber-attacks/#4f0ac3834b50, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/autism-link-cyber-crime-personality-trait-scientist-research-university-bath-dark-web-a7663086.html
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