Nathan House is a pioneering cyber security expert and the founder and CEO of StationX, a leading global cyber security training and career development platform. With over 25 years of experience in the field, he has advised some of the world’s largest organizations on cyber security matters and is a respected authority in the industry.
As the author of the world’s most popular cyber security course, Nathan has trained staff at companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, Siemens, Thales, and many others. His course has been taken by over half a million students in 195 countries, solidifying his reputation as a leading cyber security educator. His dedication to the field has been recognized by the industry, with him being awarded “Cyber Security Educator of the Year 2020” and being shortlisted for “Cyber Security Influencer of the Year 2021.” In addition to his training and consulting work, he is a sought-after speaker at industry conferences and has developed free security tools and discovered serious security vulnerabilities in leading applications.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with Digital First Magazine, Nathan shared his insights on the major trends that are driving the future of cybersecurity, the inspiration behind establishing his company, StationX, the secret sauce behind his success, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
According to you, what are the major trends driving the future of cyber security? The sophistication of cyber-attacks? Security automation and intelligence? Decentralization and blockchains?
First, we’ve got Artificial Intelligence (AI). It’s like the superhero and the villain in the same story. On one hand, AI is shaping up to be our savior – making our cyber security smarter, faster, and more intuitive. But just like in every good comic book, the baddies have the same powers. It’s a race and we’ve got to keep our AI game strong.
Then we’ve got Cyber-attacks. They’re not the simple tricks they used to be, no, these are getting sneakier, trickier and way more sophisticated. You’ve heard about deepfakes, right? That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Another big player is Security Automation. This one is like our secret weapon. We’re talking about automating the boring stuff, the routine checks, and the constant monitoring. So that we, the humans, can focus on the big stuff.
We can’t ignore Decentralization and blockchains. It’s a whole new way of securing our data and transactions. But it’s not all roses and sunshine, it has its own set of challenges.
Next up, Cloud security. With so much of our data in the cloud, it’s like we’ve put all our eggs in one basket and sent it up in a hot air balloon. We need to make sure that the balloon is as secure as Fort Knox!
And let’s not forget the IoT Security with 5G. More devices connected at higher speeds. It’s a hacker’s dream and our potential nightmare.
Then there’s the cyber security skills gap. We need more pros, more brainpower, more cyber warriors ready to take on the challenges.
Last but not least, State-Sponsored Cyber Warfare and Fake news/Misinformation. cyber security isn’t just about keeping your bank details safe anymore. It’s a matter of national security, of truth and trust. It’s a whole new world out there, and we’ve got to be ready for it!
How has cyber security education/training evolved in the past few years?
At StationX, we’ve had our finger on the pulse, proactively moulding the way we impart cyber security knowledge to fit the changing landscape. We’re firm believers in the power of personalized education; there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here.
Gone are the days of standard, uniform coursework that doesn’t consider the individual’s unique learning pace or existing skillset. Instead, we’ve crafted our approach around each learner’s personal aspirations and proficiency level. It’s this customized approach that sets our training apart.
Our strategy isn’t merely based on intuition. We’ve invested significant resources into understanding the science behind effective learning. This research helps us identify precisely what enables people to develop robust cyber security skills and succeed in their careers. It’s not just about providing information—it’s about fostering comprehension and empowering each learner to become a competent cyber security professional.
So, in summary, cyber security education has seen a considerable transformation in recent years. StationX hasn’t just adapted to these changes—we’ve actively sought to lead the charge in reshaping the way cyber security skills are taught. And we believe that our personalised approach is the future of effective cyber security training.
You have been part of this industry for over 25 years. What surprised you the most in your journey and what did you learn from it?
Reflecting on my quarter-century journey in this industry, one aspect leaps to mind – the astounding pace of AI’s evolution and subsequent adoption. It’s been nothing short of a whirlwind!
When I began in this field, AI was more of a sci-fi concept than an actual player on the tech scene. Fast forward to today, and it’s integrated into nearly every aspect of our digital lives. The sophistication and capabilities of AI have ramped up at a rate that’s been truly eye-opening.
The interesting bit is, while the rapid progress is exhilarating, it’s also somewhat alarming. It’s a bit like watching someone learning to drive at breakneck speed – you’re in awe of their quick progress but also worried about the potential dangers they may be oblivious to. We all recognize the need to pump the brakes, ensure safety protocols are in place, that what we’re doing isn’t just innovative but also secure. However, the fear of falling behind in this relentless race often takes precedence over safety considerations.
This observation isn’t confined to corporations; even nation-states are caught up in this phenomenon. Take China, for instance, they’re moving at a lightning-fast pace in AI research and implementation. There’s this tacit understanding that if one slows down for due diligence, others won’t. It’s like a high-stakes global game of chicken.
What did I learn from all of this? That being mindful of safety and security isn’t just an option – it’s an absolute necessity. As we surge ahead in this AI-dominated era, it’s paramount to ensure that our progress doesn’t inadvertently become our pitfall.
What was the inspiration behind establishing StationX. What sets it apart from other market competitors?
A simple, yet profound desire to lend a hand, to help others navigate the complex labyrinth of cyber security and technology.
You see, when I looked at the educational landscape, I saw an ocean of generic one-size-fits-all courses. That didn’t sit right with me. Learning isn’t a one-size-fits-all venture, it’s a personal journey. Everyone comes to the table with unique goals, distinct skillsets, and individual learning styles. Shouldn’t their educational tools reflect that? That’s when the lightbulb moment happened, and StationX was born.
What sets us apart from others in the market? It’s our approach to education, our dedication to personalisation. At StationX, we’re not just about disseminating information, we’re about crafting learning experiences.
We take the principles that science has shown to increase success and incorporate them into our teaching methodologies. This means our focus is on providing tailored solutions that cater to individual goals and current skillsets. We don’t just teach; we shape the learning environment to foster growth, ignite passion, and propel our students towards their goals.
Unlike the one-size-fits-all model that’s commonplace in the industry, StationX opts for a more personalised and adaptive learning approach, and that’s what truly sets us apart. We are continuously evolving, learning from our students’ experiences, and shaping our content to be as effective and engaging as possible. At StationX, the student’s journey is at the heart of everything we do.
In essence, StationX was born out of the desire to make a difference, and we continue to do so by providing a unique, personalised learning experience in the ever-evolving field of cyber security.
As the CEO & Founder at StationX, please tell us about what motivates you to keep pushing ahead every day in the cyber security field.
To me, the motivation lies not merely in building a successful business, but in empowering individuals, creating cyber professionals, and thereby contributing towards a safer digital world. It’s about using our skills, resources, and knowledge to create a ripple effect of positive impact in society.
Stoic philosophy which resonates with me underscores the idea that we are part of a larger community, and we ought to contribute to the welfare of this community. Guided by this principle, my journey in cyber security has always been about helping others. When we train an individual to become a cyber professional, we’re not just enhancing their personal skill set, we’re also adding a layer of protection to our interconnected digital world, strengthening our collective shield against cyber threats.
By fostering an environment of learning, resilience, and growth, we are cultivating a community of cyber professionals equipped to combat cyber criminals. Each student we help is another step towards a safer digital landscape. Each challenge we overcome in this field, be it a complex threat or a new learning curve, becomes a steppingstone towards creating a better, more secure world.
Remembering the larger impact of our work fuels my motivation. It’s not just about forging ahead in the field of cyber security, but about recognizing that this forward momentum contributes to a safer society and a more secure world. That, to me, is the Stoic essence of my journey with StationX.
What are the top skills, both technical and soft skills, that are greatly needed as a cyber security professional in the current digital landscape?
The array of skills necessary in the field of cyber security is as diverse as the field itself. Depending on your current skillset, career goals, and the specific role you’re interested in, the skills you need can vary significantly. Whether you’re aspiring to become an Ethical Hacker, a Cyber Crime Analyst, a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), or a Security Analyst, each role requires a unique blend of technical and soft skills.
- Basic IT: A fundamental understanding of computer systems, hardware, software, and networks.
- Networking: An in-depth knowledge of network protocols, structures, and associated hardware, such as routers and switches. Understanding of the internet’s TCP/IP protocol suite is also crucial.
- General cyber security: A solid foundation in cyber security principles, practices, and technologies used to protect networks and data from cyber-attacks.
Skills in Growth Demand:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML): AI and ML are quickly becoming essential in cyber security. Knowledge in this area entails understanding how these technologies can be leveraged to automate threat detection, perform behavior analysis, predict attacks, and enhance response times. Equally important is understanding the potential security risks posed by AI and ML, such as adversarial attacks and the need to secure the data they use.
- Cyber security Automation: The use of software to perform or augment cyber security tasks, from monitoring to threat response, to increase efficiency and speed.
- Internet of Things (IoT): Knowledge of security considerations related to the growing network of physical devices (“things”) that are connected to the internet, collecting, and sharing data.
- Data Analytics & Big Data: The ability to analyze large volumes of data to uncover hidden patterns, correlations, and other insights for improved threat detection and response.
- Container Security: Understanding the security implications of containerization, a lightweight alternative to full machine virtualization that involves encapsulating an application in a container with its own operating environment.
- Threat Hunting: Proactively and iteratively searching through networks to detect and isolate advanced threats that evade existing security solutions.
- Threat Intelligence & Response: The collection and analysis of information about potential or current attacks that threaten an organization, and the implementation of defensive actions.
- Anomaly Detection: Identifying unusual patterns or behaviors within network traffic that could indicate a network or system intrusion.
- Blockchain: A knowledge of how blockchain works and its security implications, particularly for secure transactions and data privacy.
- Quantum Computing: An understanding of the principles of quantum computing and how it might impact cyber security. Quantum computers could potentially crack current encryption methods, presenting new security challenges.
- Quantum Cryptography: Utilizing principles of quantum mechanics to secure data. Quantum cryptography could offer enhanced security solutions, including secure communication channels and random number generation.
At StationX, we understand the complexity and vastness of the cyber security field. That’s why we offer targeted training and certification paths for a myriad of cyber security roles, ensuring you’re well-equipped for your cyber security career journey, no matter the direction.
Soft skills are important now but will likely become more important as AI and automation advance. Some skills that may be particularly valuable in the coming years include:
- Critical thinking and problem-solving: As AI and automation take on more routine tasks, the ability to think critically and solve complex problems will become increasingly important.
- Creativity and innovation: The ability to develop new ideas and approaches to problems will be valuable as the world continues to change and evolve.
- Communication and collaboration: The ability to work effectively with others and communicate effectively will be important as more work is done in teams and in a global context.
- Adaptability and flexibility: As the economy and job market changes, the ability to adapt to new situations and learn new skills quickly will be valuable.
- Leadership and management: The ability to lead and manage teams will be important as more work is done collaboratively and distributed.
Overall, the most important skills for now and the future will likely be those that are difficult for machines to replicate, such as creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
What, personally, has allowed you the success you have had in the role of a leader in technology?
My success as a leader in technology is not the result of a singular factor, but a combination of personal attributes, a supportive network, and relentless effort.
Luck, indeed, has been a companion along the journey, opening doors to opportunities and encounters that have shaped my career. However, I firmly believe that luck is not something that merely happens to us, but something we create for ourselves through hard work, preparation, and being in the right place at the right time.
The people around me, from my team at StationX to the larger technology community, have been instrumental in my journey. I am surrounded by innovative thinkers, dedicated individuals, and mentors who constantly challenge and inspire me. It’s through this collective intelligence and camaraderie that we’ve been able to push boundaries and make strides in technology.
Working hard has been a cornerstone of my journey. The technology field is fast-paced and constantly evolving. Keeping up requires dedication, long hours, and a lot of mental grit. However, I believe that working smart is equally important. This involves strategic planning, effective delegation, and continual learning to enhance efficiency and productivity.
In my personal experience, having a growth mindset has been a key factor in my success. Embracing challenges, persisting in the face of setbacks, seeing effort as a path to mastery, and learning from criticism are all essential aspects of this mindset. It’s about understanding that intelligence and abilities can be developed, which creates a love of learning and resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.
In summary, my journey as a technology leader has been shaped by a blend of good fortune, a supportive network of people, persistent hard work, smart strategies, and a growth-oriented mindset. These elements combined have fueled my trajectory and will continue to guide my path forward.
What is the best career advice you’ve received and how have you sought to put this into practice?
The most impactful career advice I’ve received is encapsulated in the simple yet powerful phrase, “Skills pay the bills.” This nugget of wisdom underscores the idea that personal development and continual learning are the most valuable investments we can make.
At first glance, this advice may seem like just a catchy phrase. But delve deeper, and you discover a profound truth about success and fulfillment in your career. Investing in yourself, in sharpening your skills and expanding your knowledge, yields dividends that far exceed any financial gain.
My interpretation of this advice goes beyond the monetary aspect. Yes, enhancing your skills can lead to better job opportunities, higher salaries, and greater financial stability. But the returns on investing in oneself are multidimensional.
When you invest in your skills, you are also investing in your confidence, your resilience, your adaptability, and your capacity to contribute meaningfully to your field. This enriches not only your professional life, but also your personal growth and satisfaction.
In practical terms, I’ve sought to implement this advice by prioritizing lifelong learning. Whether it’s mastering a new programming language, staying abreast of cyber security trends, or honing my leadership abilities, I continually strive to expand my skills and knowledge. I view every challenge as a learning opportunity and every setback as a chance for growth.
I’ve also found it essential to invest time and resources into areas that fuel my passion and creativity. It’s this combination of continual skill development and following my passion that has been pivotal in my career.
Where would you like to be in the next 5 years?
Looking towards the horizon, my vision for the next five years is deeply entwined with the mission of StationX – to empower individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in cyber security, thereby contributing to a safer digital landscape globally.
My aspiration is not merely about expanding StationX, but about amplifying our impact. I envision a world where, through our efforts, millions more individuals are equipped with the tools they need to protect and navigate the intricate digital realm. In doing so, we won’t just be building a more robust cyber security workforce, we will be fostering a global community committed to safeguarding our interconnected digital world.
But it’s not just about the numbers. The vision extends to nurturing a culture of lifelong learning, resilience, and shared knowledge within this community. I foresee StationX as a dynamic hub of innovation and learning, where curiosity is kindled, challenges are embraced as opportunities for growth, and every learner feels supported and empowered.
In five years, I hope to see StationX making strides in closing the cyber security skills gap, not just by providing quality education and resources, but by creating an environment where every student feels inspired to learn and contribute.
Ultimately, my ambition for the next half-decade is to see StationX not just as a leader in cyber security education, but as a catalyst for change – fostering a safer, more secure digital world, one learner at a time.
Which technology are you investing in now to prepare for the future?
In anticipation of the future, I am strategically investing in two key areas of technology – Personalized Education at Scale and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Personalized Education at Scale is a concept that leverages technology to provide customized learning experiences to a large number of students. In the context of StationX, we’re exploring ways to personalize our cyber security curriculum, so that learning experiences are tailored to the individual needs, pace, and learning styles of each student. By doing this, we can improve engagement, facilitate deeper understanding, and ensure that every learner feels valued and supported.
Investing in this technology means exploring advanced learning management systems, adaptive learning technologies, and data analytics. It’s about harnessing the power of technology to create a learning environment where every student feels seen, heard, and empowered to learn in a way that best suits them.
Simultaneously, I am also investing in AI. The potential applications of AI in cyber security are vast – from automating routine tasks and improving threat detection to enhancing incident response and decision-making processes. As a cyber security education provider, understanding these applications and incorporating them into our curriculum is essential.
But beyond its applications in cyber security, AI also holds immense promise for enhancing the way we deliver education. AI-driven tools can help us create more engaging, interactive, and effective learning experiences. They can provide valuable insights into learner behavior, help us tailor content more effectively, and even offer personalized support to learners.
By investing in these technologies, my aim is to keep StationX at the forefront of cyber security education and ensure that we’re prepared to meet the future head-on. It’s about creating a learning environment that is not just responsive to the needs of today’s learners, but also ready to adapt and evolve as those needs change in the future.
What advice would you offer others looking to build their career in cyber security?
Here are some nuggets of advice.
- Just Get Started: There will never be a ‘perfect’ time. Whether you’re entirely new to the field or looking to transition from another industry, the best time to start is now.
- Build Your Network: Surround yourself with individuals who are passionate about cyber security. Connect with mentors, join relevant groups, attend industry events, and participate in online communities. They will be invaluable resources as you navigate your career.
- Mind the Gap: Identify the skills, both hard and soft, needed for your dream cyber security role. Assess your own skills and identify the gaps. Understanding where you need to grow will help you set a clear career development path.
- Follow Your Passion: cyber security is a broad field with numerous specializations. Do you have a penchant for ethical hacking, or does the thought of building robust security systems excite you? Identify your passion and make it your specialization.
- Invest in Yourself: Acquiring the right qualifications and skills is key. This might mean enrolling in cyber security courses, getting certified, or participating in hands-on exercises like capture-the-flag competitions to improve your practical knowledge.
- Get Your Hands Dirty: There’s no substitute for experience. Seek opportunities for practical application of your skills, such as internships, volunteering, or even creating your own projects. These experiences will prove invaluable when you start applying for jobs.
- Brand Yourself: Developing a personal brand will make you stand out from the crowd. Showcase your skills, passion, and expertise online. Be it through a personal website, a blog, or your LinkedIn profile, make it easy for prospective employers to see what you bring to the table.
- Craft a Compelling Resume: Your resume is your first impression; make it count. Highlight your skills, experiences, and achievements related to cyber security. Show that you not only possess the necessary qualifications but also have made an effort to apply them practically.
- Job Hunt Strategically: Understand where to find cyber security job opportunities. Online job boards, company websites, and networking events are excellent starting points. Don’t forget to leverage the power of your network!
- Ace Your Interviews: Brush up on your interview skills. Be ready to demonstrate your passion for cyber security, your skills, and experiences, and how you could contribute to the organization’s security posture.
At StationX, we are here to support you throughout this journey. We offer resources for each step of your career progression, from getting started in cyber security to mastering advanced concepts. Whether you’re a beginner or have some experience, we’re committed to helping you achieve your cyber security career goals.