Why the Australian Defence Organization is recruiting cyber analysts on the autism spectrum

It seems like every week brings news of yet another major cybersecurity breach. Evidence suggests that the bad guys are getting smarter and more professional. Nowhere is the problem tougher than in national defense, where sophisticated actors, including nation states, engage in cyberwarfare. A big part of the problem: There simply aren’t enough great cyberdefense analysts to go around.

The Australian Defence Organization (ADO), which consists of  the Australian Defence Force and the civilian Australian Department  of Defence personnel supporting the ADF, has the same escalating challenge. To help address it, ADO has, with the help of some innovative business firms, leapt to the forefront with a new approach to sourcing cybersecurity talent: “Dandelion programs.” They tap non-traditional talent sources — especially people on the autism spectrum who, because of the social difficulties that accompany their disorder, can have trouble getting hired and remain unemployed. As the pioneering Danish firm Specialisterne showed first in the early 2000s, however, and as the Australian Defence Organization’s partner DXC Technology has demonstrated through deployments in Australia, if you manage things right, you can recruit great talent and activate it to a maximum degree from populations of autistic people.

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7th December 2017
Harvard Business Review