Cynthia Hetherington, Founder & CEO


Cynthia Hetherington, MLS, MSM, CFE, CII is the founder and CEO of Hetherington Group, a consulting, publishing, and training firm that leads in due diligence, corporate intelligence, and cyber investigations by keeping pace with the latest security threats and assessments.

Her firm trains more than 7,200 investigators, security professionals, attorneys, accountants, auditors, military intelligence professionals, and federal, state, and local agencies on best practices annually. She has authored three industry-leading reference books (with a fourth publishing in 2023) on conducting cyber investigations.

Ms. Hetherington leads national and international investigations into corporate due diligence and fraud, personal asset recovery, and background checks. Applying her specialized knowledge of the financial, pharmaceutical, and telecommunications industries, her cyber investigations have recovered millions of dollars in high profile corruption cases, including for the top two Ponzi cases in United States history.

She shares her expertise in an increasingly data-intensive, cyber-focused world through timely publications, an online blog, leading the OSINT Academy ( and hosting the annual OSMOSIS Conference which provides lead-edge insights for professionals across the global cyber investigations field (

She has held several posts as an educator, including:

• Limited Term Adjunct Instructor in the College of Applied Science & Technology (CAST) at the University of Arizona
• Subject Matter Expert & OSINT Instructor at the National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations (CAE-CO) and Cyber Defense (CAE-CD)
• OSINT Instructor, Department of Defense, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)
• Faculty Member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)
• Lead Instructor at OSINT Academy, a collaboration between Dakota State University, the United States National Security Agency and Hetherington Group

A mentor to women and other underrepresented populations across the professional digital ecosphere, Ms. Hetherington shares her experiences and expertise as a keynote speaker and contributor at women-focused technology events and conferences across the U.S. Among her memberships are the Women in Security Forum and the Women’s President Organization. She also serves on the Board of Advisors for Raven, an advocacy enterprise seeking to protect children from cyber exploitation. She collaborates with The National Center for Women and Information Technology to educate young women and girls about cyber and technology careers. She is also a lecturer and mentor to and RocketGirls at CyberSpace Camps held at the Kennedy Space Center.

Ms. Hetherington was awarded the prestigious Women in IT New York’s 2022 Security Leader of the Year. In 2021, Ontic Center for Protective Intelligence honored Ms. Hetherington with the Protective Intelligence Pioneer Award. In 2019, she was honored with the Enterprising Woman of the Year Award by Enterprising Women Magazine and the CybHER Warrior Award by Dakota State University Madison Cyber Labs. Also in 2019, she was shortlisted for the coveted Women in IT New York’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award and named a finalist in the esteemed Ernst & Young LLP New Jersey Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Ms. Hetherington is a recipient of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ James Baker Speaker of the Year Award.

Strategic Insight & Complex Investigations

Ms. Hetherington applies her expertise of library science and information systems to provide clients with strategic insight into research and complex investigations. During her career, she has assisted clients on thousands of cases with Internet investigations related to employees, intellectual property, and reputation management. Ms. Hetherington has uncovered well-hidden relations between fraudulent associates, their assets, and secrets by scouring online open sources and databases, and, when required, boots-on-the-ground work. Her international investigations for Fortune 500 companies have honed her research skills in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.

A Respected Leader in Online Investigations

Ms. Hetherington has served as president of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP) and the New Jersey Association of Licensed Private Investigators (NJLPIA), as chairman of the Economic Crime Committee of ASIS International, and is a member of the High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA), the Council of International Investigators (CII), and the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS), among others.

From 2006 to 2008, Ms. Hetherington was Managing Director of Aon Consulting’s Corporate Strategic Intelligence Group, where she established an intelligence and investigative team to handle multi-dimensional projects based on client needs, time, and budget restrictions; oversaw part of Aon’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act initiative; and managed multi-million-dollar litigation matters for clients, coordinating with forensic accountants and eDiscovery and litigation practice colleagues.

Ms. Hetherington has authored The Manual to Online Public Records: The Researchers Tool to Online Resources of Public Records and Public Information, 4th Ed. (2017); Guide to Online Due Diligence Investigations: The Professional Approach on How to Use Traditional and Social Media Resources for Investigations (2015), and Business Background Investigations: Tools and Techniques for Solution Driven Due Diligence (2007). In 2000, she founded the newsletter, Data2know: Internet & Online Intelligence. Her articles, tips, and investigative insights are one of the industry’s most trusted sources on due diligence investigations, background checks, online personal security assessments and protection, and open source research.

Ms. Hetherington’s articles on steganography, computer forensics, Internet investigations, and other security-focused monographs have appeared in PI Magazine, Fraud, and Philadelphia Inquirer, to name but a few. She has provided expert commentary for national and international media outlets, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Irish Times, Washington Times, ABC News, and VoiceAmerica. Ms. Hetherington has presented at over 500 conferences across North America. In 2012, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners named her the James Baker Speaker of the Year.

Committed to Sharing Knowledge & Expertise

Since 1998, Ms. Hetherington has trained over 180,000 corporate security professionals, attorneys, accountants, auditors, military intelligence professionals, and federal, state, and local agencies in online intelligence practices. Her most recent clients include the U.S. Department Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC); U.S. Department of Defense (DOD); U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI); U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF); U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA); NY Mass Transit Authority, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and The Ministry of Justice of The Hague, Netherlands.

Ms. Hetherington is a faculty member at the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, where she teaches a program on advanced Internet fraud investigations. Her webinars cover a wide range of topics including ethics, social media online monitoring tools, fraud, and open source intelligence searching; they provide new and seasoned investigators with Continuing Education Credits.

In 2015, Ms. Hetherington founded the OSMOSIS Institute, which hosts the annual OSMOSIS Conference. Hundreds of investigators across the nation gain insights into Open Source Intelligence and receive training from the most recognized social media and open source experts in North America.

Continuing Education Agencies

  • ASIS International (ASIS)
  • Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Loss Prevention Foundation (LPF)
  • National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA)
  • Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM)

Noteworthy Engagements

  • Led Operation Vax—a consortium of industry professionals, U.S. Department of Defense personnel, manufacturers, and leaders in healthcare distribution.
  • Coordinated protective intelligence research for the COVID-19 Response Team Members.
  • Established first use of product design and trademarked images as seen on the Internet for trademark litigators involved in a contentious case.
  • Investigated the backgrounds of Bernard Madoff’s claimants for Securities Investor Protection Corporation.
  • Supported the liquidators of Stanford Financial Group, a fraudulent financial company operating from Antigua.
  • Determined identity and provided additional data that resulted in the arrest of an employee accused of embezzling almost $1 million from a global organization. Research and analysis resulted in recovering $600,000 worth of recoverable assets.

Ongoing Engagements

  • Originating member of national consortium funded by the National Security Agency’s National Centers for Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity to establish a nationally scalable and sustainable program to transition military members and first responders into an expanded U.S cybersecurity workforce.
  • Manage the online reputation and privacy of management for Fortune 50 companies.
  • Conduct hundreds of specialized background checks for pharmaceutical laboratory.
  • Support the executive protection monitoring the Internet for defamatory or threatening posts made by anti-establishment.

Professional Affiliations/Associations

  • Alpha Lambda Honor Society, Past President
  • American Library Association (ALA)
  • ASIS International, Economic Crime Committee, Past Chairman (ASIS)
  • Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS)
  • Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Faculty Member (ACFE)
  • Association of Independent Information Professionals, Past President (AIIP)
  • Association of Threat Assessment Professionals (ATAP)
  • Council of International Investigators (CII)
  • High Tech Crime Consortium (HTCC)
  • High Technology Crime Investigator’s Association (HTCIA)
  • International Intelligence Network (INTELLENET)
  • International Association of Cyber & Economic Crime Professionals (IACECP)
  • Investigative & Security Professionals for Legislative Action (ISPLA)
  • Loss Prevention Foundation (LPF)
  • National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI)
  • National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA)
  • National Council of Investigation and Security Services (NCISS)
  • National Women Business Owned Corporation (NWBOC)
  • New Jersey Association of Licensed Private Investigators, Past President (NJLPIA)
  • Skull Games (on BOD)
  • Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM)
  • Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO)
  • World Association of Detectives (WAD)

Education & Certifications

  • Certified Fraud Examiner, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)
  • National Women Business Owned Corporation (NWBOC)
  • Women’s Business Enterprise, National Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBENC)
  • NJ Women Business Owned Corporation
  • NY-NJ Port Authority Women-owned Business Enterprise
  • NYC Small Business Service – WOBE
  • Master of Information Systems Management, New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Master of Library Science, Rutgers University
  • Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy, Montclair State College

Awards & Recognitions

  • 2023 Empowering Women Award, NJBIZ
  • 2023 Executive of the Year, NJBIA Awards for Excellence
  • 2023 Advocate of the Year, Women in IT Series
  • 2022 Security Leader of the Year, Women in IT SeriesUSA Edition
  • 2021 Protective Intelligence Pioneer, Ontic Center for Protective Intelligence
  • 2019 Investigation Educator Award, The Society for Professional Investigators
  • 2019 Entrepreneur Of The Year New Jersey Award Finalist, Ernst & Young LLP, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards 
  • 2019 CybHER Warrior, CybHER, an Institute within the Dakota State University Madison Cyber Labs
  • 2019 Enterprising Woman of the Year Award, Enterprising Women Magazine
  • 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year (shortlisted), Women in IT Series, Information Age and Diversity Q
  • 2014 In Appreciation for 29th Annual Briefing, U.S. Flag flown over the State Department, U.S. Department of State, Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
  • 2012 James Baker Speaker of the Year, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)
  • 2010 Speaker of the Year, ACFE, Rhode Island Chapter
  • 1999 Public Service Award Recipient, City of Englewood (NJ)
  • 1998 MCI-Cybrarian of the Year Award, MCI