April 15, 2024

I met Jon Sternstein when he was leading the monthly NCHICA Security and Privacy networking events around 2018. But I really started to get to know Jon better when we both became founding board members of Tweens & Technology, a non-profit providing the first step in STEM to children in 3rd to 7th grade. Our common friend, Derrick Thompson, had brought us together and I quickly learned Jon is not your ordinary guy.

What I like about Jon is his humility in addition to his kindness and generosity. He does not enter a room and announce: “Hey look at me, I’m a CEO!”. He does not speak in terms of “I” and “me” at all; it is all about “we” and “us”, recognizing the importance and power of team spirit, collaboration, and community. To me, he impersonates the selfless leader I would love to be when I grow up.

Jon has become an inspiration of mine because not only did he found and runs a successful cybersecurity company and supports his community with great dedication; he continues to prioritize his family above it all.  

Jon is a role model in selfless leadership, continued learning and kindness. Jon chose to become that person and leveraged the available resources in his environment. I hope you enjoy my chat with Jon and find inspiration in his story. You will understand very quickly, why I call him a “natural born hacker”.

Jon’s recommendations

  • Hack your own educational path! It is ok to spice it up and learn things that interest you (and may not be on the menu).
  • Pursue student jobs where you can learn something interesting and that complement your learning efforts.
  • Engage your network, including your family, to find opportunities such as internships, jobs and continued learning.
  • Recognize your parents’ investment in your development and appreciate their involvement in your life. In Jon’s case for example, his father was as a teacher who role modeled mentorship and community service. 
  • Embrace change and take on new roles to find out which you like more. If anything, realize that every experience is a learning experience that opens the door to new opportunities.
  • Believe in your dreams. Do not let failures keep you from trying a new venture. Learn from your failures, dust yourself off and keep believing in your purpose and vision.
  • Nobody is an overnight success.
  • Embrace mentorship: find one, be one. 
  • Never stop learning.
  • Ethical hacking can be a fulfilling and lucrative career. Consider the positive impact you can have on people in your community and the world, or the companies you can help protect from the bad guys, including hospitals. 
  • Unethical hacking will get you caught, and you cannot get a job with a criminal record. Illegal hacking is heavily punished. Don’t do it!


Started something positive with his family: www.goodworldnews.org (also on Twitter etc.)



Jon Sternstein is the Founder and Principal of Stern Security, a cyber security company headquartered in Raleigh, NC.  Jon created Stern Security with a focus on customer service and the goal of increasing the long-term security posture of organizations.  Jon has been a lead contributor to securing a wide variety of organizations in healthcare, education, finance, legal, and government industries throughout his 14+ years in the security field.  Jon is the author of the Cisco Press course titled “Security Penetration Testing (The Art of Hacking Series) LiveLessons”.  Jon graduated with a B.A. in Computer Science, minor in Business Studies, and holds the following security certifications: GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and more.  Jon Sternstein has been a featured cyber security expert on ABC News, WRAL News, Business North Carolina Magazine, ISSA Journal, PenTest Magazine, and CBS News.


Created with the support of T&T Creative Group.

Music by Wolves: “Life Stories”, “Kenya”, “My Time” 


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