We live in a connected world, with information right at our fingertips. We rely on the internet—for both personal and professional needs. We are online consistently. More organizations are moving to a Cloud or Cloud-Hybrid infrastructure, allowing them the flexibility to access their corporate information from anywhere.
But all that data available remotely attracts the attention of bad actors, with threats and cyber exploits becoming more sophisticated. We see daily reports of digital attacks, and that number continues to grow at an alarming rate. According to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute (sponsored by IBM), it takes an average of 287 days for an organization to identify and contain a breach.1 That same study showed the global average total cost is $4.24 million per breach.
These threats are increasing the roles and responsibilities of those in the cybersecurity profession. Companies realize the decisions and actions they take toward securing their data must be their top priority. But cyber teams are spread thin with a perceived shortage of qualified resources across the country. Most alarmingly, there is no apparent talent pipeline to backfill entry-level roles, which would allow senior cyber talent to focus on more complex projects.
While the future might look bleak, a possible solution could come from an unexpected source: from people with a natural ability to fill these roles.
Multiple sources estimate that over 1 billion individuals identify as being neurodivergent, (examples include autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, ADHD, and other neurodiverse conditions). Unemployment for neurodivergent adults runs at least as high as 30-40%.2
“Individuals with autism have a unique set of valuable skills which can help to meet the [cybersecurity] skills shortage.” They often possess valuable traits such as “attention to detail, the ability to focus for long periods and identify patterns, photographic memory, integrity, and honesty.” Additionally, people with autism spectrum disorder report much higher levels of satisfaction [when working in IT] than in other areas of employment.3
CAI has years of experience working with neurodivergent individuals and can attest that this workforce drives value and improves productivity. Since 2013, CAI Neurodiverse Solutions has been providing opportunities to bring this untapped talent pool into the workforce. When businesses provide career foundation and advancement opportunities for neurodivergent individuals, we’ve seen them realize up to a 120% increase in productivity and performance. Specifically, our neurodiversity employment program has discovered a profound potential for neurodiversity in cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity talent gaps exist across the country. At a national level, there are a total of 464,420 Cybersecurity job openings. The total employed cybersecurity workforce is 956,341.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, but it’s also National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It’s the perfect time for businesses to explore how they can use an untapped talent pool of qualified neurodivergent individuals to help bridge the cyber talent gap and transform the greater cybersecurity workforce.
- “Cost of a Data Breach 2022.” IBM. https://www.ibm.com/security/data-breach. ↩
- Carrero, Yesenia. “The Center for Neurodiversity and Employment.” Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, September 29, 2021. https://entrepreneurship.uconn.edu/neurodiversitycenter/. ↩
- “People with Autism Are Called to a Career in Cyber Security.” Cyber Risk Leaders, May 18, 2021. https://cyberriskleaders.com/people-with-autism-are-called-to-a-career-in-cyber-security. ↩