Israel to arm students on autism spectrum with cybersecurity skills
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Israel to arm students on autism spectrum with cybersecurity skills

Initiative hopes to integrate those with disabilities into cybersecurity field, which is eager for more manpower

Soldiers and officers from the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate's Unit 9900, which has integrated soldiers with autism into its aerial photography interpretation unit (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Soldiers and officers from the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate's Unit 9900, which has integrated soldiers with autism into its aerial photography interpretation unit (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

A first of its kind cybersecurity training course for people with disabilities has opened in Israel, led and financed by the National Cyber Directorate and the Welfare and Social Services Ministry,  in a bid to expand the pool of talent in the industry.

The first cohort of the course will include 16 students on the autism spectrum, aged 21 and up.

The course is an initiative of Ram Levy, the CEO of cybersecurity company Konfidas, who aims to enable people with disabilities integrate into the cybersecurity field, in which demand for skilled workers is high.

The training program will last about two months and will include about 250 hours of theoretical learning, along with practical training.

The theory classes will be carried out by the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry at the See Security College, and the practical training will be provided by  professional mentors supplied by firms that have joined the initiative. These include the Israel Electric Corporation; Facebook Israel, Bank Hapoalim Ltd. and Israel Discount Bank Ltd., a statement said.

The training will focus on providing the students with the skills for one of the most sought-after cybersecurity positions — Security Operations Center inspector, the statement said.

At the end of the course the students will take accreditation exams set out by the cyber directorate, and successful candidates will gain a diploma in cybersecurity.

The graduates will also be able to get internships at the sponsoring firms to provide them with work experience, and eventually may also gain employment at these firms, the statement said.

“When the graduates of the course integrate into the labor market, we will be able to close a whole circle of contribution to the community, increase productivity in the economy and strengthen the cyber resilience of the Israeli economy,” said Ariel Hovav of the National Cyber Directorate in the statement.

In 2015, the Israeli army’s Unit 9900, in charge of deciphering satellite and other images, began employing volunteer soldiers on the autism spectrum who had proven to be adept at decoding pictures.

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