Most of us know about cyber crime, but until we are the victims of it, its perpetrators are faceless and shadowy. Christian Espinosa is an expert working to take down the perpetrators and make the Internet safer for everyone. He is the best-selling author of The Smartest Person in the Room: The Root Cause and New Solution for Cybersecurity. He is also an entrepreneur, and in 2014, he founded Alpine Security, a cybersecurity training and services company before becoming a managing director at Cerberus Sentinel in December 2020. Christian has made it his mission to help win the cyberwar by training technical leaders and staff in his 7-Step Secure Methodology, outlined in his book. The ideas in his book as well as the work he has done have made him an expert in his field.
After studying both the methodologies of criminals as well as the measures taken to protect businesses from attacks, Christian believes that the cybersecurity industry needs to quickly change. “We are relying too much on complicated frameworks, certified people, and technology. It’s not getting us anywhere. All anyone has to do is watch a newsfeed, and they’ll be able to tell immediately. Each day, we have more and more data breaches. There’s got to be a better way to stop this, and that’s why my book and my work are all about.”
His wisdom comes from nearly thirty years of experience. Christian is concerned by the issues that continue to assail the industry, including intellectual bullying and posturing. “Part of the problem, I think, is that we are still tolerating and accepting these problems. This has to stop. If we don’t, the next ten years will be just like the last ten, and cybercriminals will continue to hack us. Now is the time to innovate and act.”
Christian’s experience and leadership have led him to become a popular speaker and trainer. To date, his courses in cybersecurity have been attended by over 10,000 people. He is presently developing a course he will teach in Secure Methodology, a topic covered in his book, and he expects that the class will begin on April 15, 2021.
Christian is driven to achieve success in both business and in his work as an author. “For Alpine Security, our revenue was near $1.5M before we sold it. We served over 200 clients with penetration testing, CISO-as-a-Service, and audits. We also trained over 2,500 students in cybersecurity. Away from my job, I wrote a book and made the best-seller list in six categories during my launch week: Social Aspects of the Internet, Viruses & Malware, Online Safety & Piracy, Software Engineering, Network Security, and Computers and Technology. I don’t do anything halfway, and I work hard to cultivate my brand. Success is never guaranteed, obviously, but there’s a lot you can do to get yourself closer to it.”
Despite Christian’s achievements, he has faced many hurdles along the way. “I have seen it all: personnel issues, cash flow problems, legal battles, and upset clients. The list goes on. I could let this stress me, but really, if your problems are not getting bigger, you’re not growing. Many people think that a successful business has no problems or challenges, but I disagree. There should always be things to solve – you just shouldn’t be solving the same challenges you were wrestling with a year ago. Otherwise, you have not grown or learned the lesson. I think if more companies operated with that philosophy, the business landscape would look very different.”
Christian has other advice for entrepreneurs who are just starting out. “Know your why: why do you want to become an entrepreneur? I recommend doing the “7 Levels Deep” exercise with someone on this. If you don’t understand your why, it’s going to be very hard to keep going, especially during the dismal times. Second, know your ideal client and how you transform them. Third, get good at marketing – if you build something, that doesn’t mean anyone will come for it. You need to get your marketing dialed in and speak in terms your ideal clients can relate to. Last, never get complacent. You have to do all of the above every day no matter how long you’re in business.”
The future is always on Christian’s mind, and he sees big things for himself. “I see myself focusing on training, coaching, and mentoring people in my Secure Methodology, covered in my book. I also see my second book, an autobiography, being completed in the middle of 2022. Also, I would like to live somewhere nice and have a lifestyle that supports my creative endeavors.”
This finisher of 22 Ironman triathlons has his own definition of success. “Success is knowing where you’re headed and feeling content with where you are on the journey. Success is living life happily on your own terms, without judgment of self or of others.”
He stops for a moment, then grins. “The bad days will come. We all know that. IIf you’re having one and success seems like it will never come, I recommend food and music. Turn off the computer and eat spicy food while you listen to heavy metal music. If nothing else, that will put life in its proper perspective.”