Kathleen R. McMorrow

The Communications Optic, LLC.

Phone: 973.665.8167



Contact: DSU Media Relations

Dakota State University, Madison, SD

Phone: 605-270-3816



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

Private, Government, and Education Sectors Converge to Enhance National Security with Training for Transitioning Military & First Responders

(Wanaque, NJ) Dakota State University and Hetherington Group are proud to announce the commencement of OSINT Academy–a collaborative cybersecurity training initiative 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 will focus on the tradecraft of open source intelligence (OSINT) gathering and analysis, and dark web investigations. The announcement was made at the 7th Annual OSMOSIScon held October 10-12 at the Bahia Resort Hotel in San Diego.

Digital security breaches and ransomware attacks have escalated in recent years, and the United States lacks the number of trained analysts and investigators needed to protect our national interests and assets. OSINT Academy seeks to increase the number of cybersecurity professionals in the coming years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that information security analyst positions are expected to grow 33% in the next 10 years–much more quickly than other occupations. The median pay for an Information Security Analyst was $103,590 in 2020.

“We are honored to be chosen by the National Security Agency to bolster our national security by providing free cybersecurity training to men and women interested in open source intelligence,” said Cynthia Hetherington, president of Hetherington Group. “Registration is now open and limited, so we encourage folks to visit the website today and enroll in this incredible opportunity.”

The advantages of learning in small classes are many, including tailored instruction and one-on-one attention. Accordingly, OSINT Academy’s online classes are small to promote optimum learning. The first training offering will be held during November – December 2021 and is capped at 20 learners; two more offerings of 20 learners will be held in 2022, for a total of 60 learners in the program.  Each training offering is 9 weeks. The material is self-study with assessments and labs due each week.

“The goal of the OSINT Academy is to train existing professionals in OSINT and dark web investigations. Partnering with the Hetherington Group takes our academic programs and research and tailors them to law enforcement and military,” said Dr. Ashley Podhradsky, VP of Research and Economic Development at Dakota State University. “Cynthia Hetherington and the Hetherington Group are national leaders in OSINT, partnering with them advances our program and extends our reach.”

Students will be trained in best practices for OSINT and dark web investigations; learn 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, 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.

This program is funded by the National Security Agency under the NCAE-C-003-2020 – NCAE-C Cyber Curriculum and Research 2020 Program.