Ryan Nicholson

Ryan's passion with information technology started in 2001 when he found himself constantly trying to make his high school's computers and even calculators do things that they weren't exactly intended to do. They lacked games, so he changed that by learning how to create some. Yes, some may call this hacking. Ryan called it "fun", which led to attending college with intentions of becoming a software engineer. 

Things did not go exactly as Ryan had planned. He found out during his first job out of college that, with great technology comes great responsibility. Ryan started working as a system administrator (as most tech careers start) for the US Department of Defense and quickly took on a more security-focused role as the field office's Network Security Officer. It didn't stop there. After addressing the security and compliance needs of the small field office, Ryan took his knowledge on the road and became what most organizations dread - a cybersecurity lead auditor. 

After a few years of helping transform the DoD to a better, safer, place, Ryan moved on from government service to address the larger issue at hand - security awareness. This was addressed by creating and teaching cybersecurity-focused courses for the DoD's system administrators and analysts. Students loved Ryan's teaching style and this led to his interest in becoming a SANS instructor.
Ryan then passed his courseware to other colleagues to "carry the torch" and moved on to another new area that the industry is heading - cloud security. 

As the lead cybersecurity engineer for a major DoD cloud project, he constantly learned new and exciting methods to ensure that information systems in both an off- and on-premise environment can be adequately defended. He still continues providing support to this government contractor, but has moved his "day job" to support SANS as a senior technical advisor for Blue Team Operations. 

If you've taken the most current version of a blue team course (or the latest version of Cyber Defense NetWars), chances are, Ryan has put his hands on it in some way to ensure the student is receiving an excellent and relevant training experience. As if he cannot get enough of SANS, Ryan is also one of the co-authors of SEC488: Cloud Security Essentials. 

Throughout these years, Ryan has picked up a number of industry certifications and is constantly trying to expand his technical and cybersecurity expertise. These certifications include GIAC's GDSA, GWAPT, GCIH, GSLC, and GSEC, Offensive Security's OSCP, ISC2's CISSP, EC Council's CEH and CFHI, AWS' Certified Solutions Architect Associate. Ryan also maintains a website and often provides free Capture the Flag events.