Nico Dekens is a SANS Instructor and the lead author for SEC587: Advanced Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) Gathering and Analysis, the owner of Dutch Osint Guy Intelligence Services, and an all-round All Source Analyst with years of government experience. Before he became a SANS instructor, Nico helped set up the OSINT units within the Dutch Government. He has taught hundreds of police, tax, and military units to conduct OSINT research & analysis, and is a well-known keynote speaker who has given lectures about OSINT & cyber intelligence for governments in Europe and the United States. Nico has been honored by Head of Europol, the DHS, and NATO for his efforts in the OSINT field.
What made you choose to work in security?
I have a background in Law Enforcement and Government Intelligence. So that formed me in really liking security-related work. In essence, I choose to do work to help make the world a safer place and help those who are not able to defend themselves.
What was your first SANS course and GIAC certification (if applicable)?
It actually was the course I now teach SEC487 Open-Source Intelligence Gathering & Analysis and the GOSI certification. I also took FOR578 Cyber Threat Intelligence and SEC617 Wireless Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking.
What courses do you teach?
I Teach SANS SEC487 Open-Source Intelligence Gathering & Analysis and I am the lead author and instructor of the SANS SEC587 Advanced Open-Source Intelligence Gathering & Analysis course
Why do you teach, research, and practice information security?
This kind of ties back into why I started doing security-related work. I like to help keep the world a better place. And with 25 years of intelligence analysis experience and investigative experience, I just like to share that knowledge with those who want to learn or improve their skills. Also, research helps me stay informed about new possibilities and techniques which I also then embed into new course contents so that others can learn. Every time I am in front of a group of people and I get the opportunity to teach or show them techniques to become a better investigator or analyst it gives me so much energy. Also seeing students in class absorb the lectures gives me the energy to give them 200%, always.
What tips can you provide newcomers to cybersecurity and defense?
Please do not try to know everything within cybersecurity or defense. It is good to have broad fundamental knowledge but pick one or two topics that give you energy. And then try to own those topics. That requires tenacity and time. Also, become part of the online community, ask questions, get help, and build your network.
Who has influenced your information security career?
I'd have to say Micah Hoffman, Justin Seitz, and my former team leaders at the Dutch Government. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am now. They supported me and gave me the freedom to evolve but always stayed critical and pushed me to get the best out of myself.
What do you want people to know about you?
People should know that I am just like them. I am no better than anyone else out there in cybersecurity. I feel that imposter syndrome very often. But I learned how to embrace that feeling and strive to keep learning every single day.
Favorite quotes, songs, or books?
My favorite quote: Assumptions are the mother of all f*ck ups. This is so close to my years in intelligence gathering and analysis. Assume Nothing, Doubt Everything.
Favorite music: Hip Hop / Rap (huge fan of Outkast)
Tell us about things you enjoy that people may not expect.
I really enjoy scavenging the internet looking for rare or unique sneakers. Particularly the Nike Air Max 1 model. Yes, i am a sneaker collector by night ;-)
Read Nico's full bio here.