The UK Cyber Security Forum is setting up a Community Cyber Security Operations Centre (SOC) in Worcester. This Centre will be used as a training centre for neurodiverse individuals in cyber security. It will also operate services to protect the internet of vulnerable members of society commonly targeted by cyber criminals such as the elderly, people with learning disabilities and people who have already been victims of cyber crime.
The Centre will help address some key issues including:
• A significant cyber security skills shortage set against a fast growing demand for individuals with these skills
• The commoditisation of cyber attack and cyber-enabled fraud which results in a growing threat to vulnerable members of the community.
• The low rates of employment of individulas with Aspergers and other neurodiverse conditions
What is a Cyber Security Operations Centre?
A SOC is a centralised unit that monitors and protects an organisation’s systems. This will include email, applications, operating systems, distributed web-enabled devices, and databases.
Usually these centers will protect a large organisation or a number of organisations. This proposal is to create one to protect vulnerable members of society in the same way.
Vulnerable members of the community include people with learning disabilities, elderly people, or people who have already been victims of crime. They are routinely targeted by online criminals.The impact of fraud on victims is not only financial. The emotional impact is significant and includes guilt, misplaced trust and diminished confidence, which can have detrimental effects on the physical and mental health of the victim, as well as increased social isolation.
Cyber-criminals are increasingly using the Internet to commit fraud and deception crimes. The speed and lack of physical boundaries mean that this is an easy way to target multiple victims with very little chance of being caught. Indeed, the more vulnerable people are being specifically targeted by cyber- criminals which causes a problem for the police and banks as well as causing distress to the individuals and their families.
Training Neurodiverse Individuals in Cyber Security
Only 16% of autistic adults are in full time work and this figure has remained the same for the last decade. Despite many individuals within cyber security teams having autistic traits, there is a large community of neurodiverse individuals who need additional support to train and work in cyber security. There is currently little support to develop these skills and so these individuals are often long term unemployed.
Many neurodiverse individuals have particular skills in being detailed, focused, and recognising changes in patterns. However, they find it difficult to work in a typical workplace due to their disability affecting their ability for social interaction, understanding workplace ‘rules’, and coping with noise and excessive activity. In addition, many adults in this situation have been unsuccessful in getting or holding jobs in the past and, partly as a consequence, they have high social anxiety and low self esteem. Many adults in this situation would find it extremely stressful to start work in a company immediately.
The Community SOC will be run as a safe environment focused on the needs of the trainees. It will aim to have a similar atmosphere to the charity ASPIE which many of these individuals find is the only place they feel they can relax and not feel judged. By creating an environment, which is not stressful or judgmental, the individuals will be able to relax, learn and discover their potential in the field of cyber security and IT support.
In addition to cyber security skills, mentoring and training will be provided to help understand the workplace. This will help to prepare the trainees for eventual work in commercial companies and other organisations.
You can read a blog by one of our neurodiverse trainees who explains a bit more about what this project means to him here
It will be free of charge for neurodiverse individuals to join the Community SOC and start getting trained in Cyber Security. No experience in IT or technology is necessary but places are very limited to start with due to funding and space constraints. If you or someone you care for is neurodiverse and they are interested in joining us and being trained in cyber security please email us to find out more.
For the first few years this venture will be totally reliant on the generosity of sponsors before the income from SOC services grows large enough to cover the costs. We have already had extremely generous offers of help from a wide variety of companies but we need more support to cover the first year.
We do need funding but also equipment, training, mentors, invitations to visit commercial SOCs and guest speakers. If you could help support us with any of this please contact us.