James Leyte-Vidal

James Leyte-Vidal had his first taste of information security back in 2001 as an IT systems admin, when he faced his first malware outbreak. Working with a new security team and putting in long hours to resolve the situation left a strong impression on James. "I left that situation knowing what I wanted to do with my life,"he says. A few years later James officially started his career in information security and has since worked in a variety of functions includingpenetration testing, security assessments, remediation, vulnerability management, security program development and management, and incident response.

Through his work in this field, James saw the need for talented IT professionals and that led him to teach SANS. "In our industry, we face a perilous shortage of talented professionals, as well as a crisis to maintain our overworked, existing seasoned professionals,"he says. "The high-quality training SANS offers addresses both needs."

James teaches SEC401: Security Essentials Bootcamp Style, SEC504: Hacker Tools, Techniques, Exploits, and Incident Handling and SEC617: Wireless Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking, a role that allows him to continually improve his skills and expand his knowledge. But most of all, James enjoys inspiring his students. "I cherish the opportunity to see someone in my class lock in, their eyes get wide and they realize that no matter how much they know or how talented they are, there is always more to learn. We are all lifelong learners, especially in infosec."

When not teaching SANS, James works for Fortune 100 Company doing "a little bit of everything,"and it has really helped him learn how to scale security for an enterprise. He also brings this knowledge to his classroom, helping students understand how big companies work and think. "Students need to understand how to convey information and important topics in a way big companies understand."He also enjoys working on infosec-related t-shirts with his students.

James holds the GCIH, GPEN, GWAPT, GAWN, GXPN, GCIA, GCFA, GMOB, GSEC, CISSP, MCSE, and CISA certifications as well as degrees in IT and psychology.

When he isn't working or teaching, James enjoys spending time with hisfamily, watching movies and spending a little time gaming.

Summary of Credentials

Qualifications Summary

Get to know James Leyte-Vidal




  • CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor)
  • CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)
  • GIAC GXPN (Exploit Researcher and Advanced Penetration Tester)
  • GIAC GMOB (Mobile Device Security Analyst)
  • GIAC GWAPT (Web Application Penetration Tester)
  • GIAC GAWN (Assessing and Auditing Wireless Networks)
  • GIAC GPEN (Certified Penetration Tester)
  • GIAC GCFA (Certified Forensics Analyst)
  • GIAC GCIH (Certified Incident Handle)
  • GIAC GCIA (Certified Intrusion Analyst)
  • GIAC GSEC (Security Essentials Certification)