National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Program Grant Provides Free Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and Dark Web Training

Collaborators Celebrate Completion of Inaugural Session of NSA-Funded Program

Hetherington Group is proud to announce the second call for applications to OSINT Academy—a collaborative cybersecurity training initiative developed with Dakota State University and funded by the National Security Agency. The Academy aims to augment the U.S. national cybersecurity workforce by offering learner-centric, competency-focused education to transitioning military members, first responders, and other interested persons. Classes focus on the tradecraft of open source intelligence (OSINT) gathering and analysis and dark web investigations. OSINT Academy commenced its first cohort in November 2021 and concluded on December 31. Participants hailed from USSPACECOM, US Marshals Service, and police departments from coast-to-coast, including the NYPD and the Portland Police Bureau.

“OSINT Academy’s first cohort showcased the brilliant intelligence and leadership skills our transitioning military members and first responders have to offer the nation after serving the public valiantly,” said Cynthia Hetherington, president of Hetherington Group. “We are thrilled to continue offering this specialized training with DSU and NSA. We encourage folks to apply early, as registration is limited.”

Registration for the second session of online trainings is Monday, January 17, with the 9-week program starting February 1, 2022. The material is self-study with assessments and labs due each week. The training includes best practices for OSINT and dark web investigations, lessons on how to identify, acquire, and preserve evidence, and develop investigative processes for traditional hard disk drives, IoT devices, cloud-based accounts, the dark web, and social media platforms.

Students must hold a high school diploma or GED and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Prior military and/or first responder experience is preferred but not required. Former experience in investigative work, case building skills, and legal matters is a plus.

To learn more about the program, download the syllabus, and find more OSINT training resources, visit

About the OSINT Academy Collaboration

Hetherington Group (Hg)

Hg is committed to sharing expertise, so the world can be a safer place. As a leader in open source intelligence gathering, it provides accredited training to industry professionals across the country. Hg offerings include seminar and webinar training in beginner, intermediate, and advanced internet and social media investigations; online ethics and best practices; online monitoring tools; fraud examinations; and open source intelligence searching. Annually, Hg staff train over 8,000 investigators, security professionals, attorneys, accountants, auditors, military intelligence professionals, and federal, state, and local agencies on best practices. Material is timely and actionable. Participants gain useful knowledge which can be used in the course of their own investigations. Hg is an NSA Center of Excellence grant recipient charged with developing and offering training opportunities at the U.S. Department of Defense and academic settings. Hg classes are ACFE, NASBA, DHS, LPF, SHRM, and ASIS approved for continuing professional education credits.

Dakota State University (DSU)

Dakota State University’s Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences offers elite training in the latest tech alongside a stellar foundation of critical thinking, problem-solving, and team-building skills that, unlike the latest device or app, will never be obsolete. That’s just one of the reasons why DSU has Center of Academic Excellence designations from the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This close relationship with the NSA and DHS exemplifies the excellence that DSU has achieved in cyber security education and research. DSU’s Digital Forensics Lab is a regional resource for law enforcement agencies and businesses, who have been victimized by cyber criminals. These agencies and businesses have a need for the extraction, preservation, and analysis of data from digital devices. This data can be comprised from computers, phones, and gaming consoles. DigForCE lab staff also provides training for various organizations.

National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) 

The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) program is managed by the National Cryptologic School at the National Security Agency. Federal Partners include the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)/National Initiative on Cybersecurity Education (NICE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense Office of the Chief Information Officer (DoD-CIO), and US Cyber Command (CYBERCOM).

The mission of the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE) program is to create and manage a collaborative cybersecurity educational program with community colleges, colleges, and universities that

  • Establishes standards for cybersecurity curriculum and academic excellence,
  • Includes competency development among students and faculty,
  • Values community outreach and leadership in professional development,
  • Integrates cybersecurity practice within the institution across academic disciplines,
  • Actively engages in solutions to challenges facing cybersecurity education.