This article highlights Cynthia Hetherington, founder and president of Hetherington Group, a cyber investigations consulting, publishing, and training firm. Cynthia is recognized by the Protective Intelligence Honors program an initiative developed by Ontic’s Center for Protective Intelligence celebrating those who have advanced the physical security and protection industry.
In this interview series, we spotlight honorees who have had a lasting impact on the security world as we know it. It is our hope that their insights on leadership and the timeless practice of security and protection will inspire you in your own efforts.
1. How did you get into the security industry?
In the early 1990’s, I began my career as a librarian with a passion for technology. I quickly grew to be known as the Internet Librarian who created programs for the public to learn and adapt technology into their lives. The law enforcement community picked up on this talent — specifically, my ability to locate information from unique databases and internet locations. Once I started training in the law enforcement officer (LEO) community, it was only natural I continue in this space as an investigator, instructor and author, sharing my experience and expertise in the security industry.
2. What is the most defining part of your career (so far)?
I was honored by CYBher.org as the Cyber Warrior of the Year, a recognition for being a leader for young women in the cyber security and investigative field.
3. How do you motivate others?
I focus on giving people opportunity, training and the ability to motivate themselves.
4. Where do you hope to see physical security evolve in the next decade?
I see physical security practitioners adapting more protective intelligence and situational awareness practices to support their peers in the field. It’s critical to create clearly defined programs for faster outcomes to prevent violence or danger to our clients. In other words — avoiding another Capitol Hill riot.
5. How do you stay up-to-speed in this space?
I read voraciously! I listen to my staff who are constantly exploring and are enthusiastic about the resources they are working with. We try the industry’s latest tools, products, databases and services to see what is out there. I also network online and at conferences.
6. What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve received?
What you can’t hide, decorate.
7. Who is your favorite role model?
I have many role models from the cyber, technology, investigative and entrepreneurial world, but someone I always like to go back to is Kitty Hailey, CLI. She exemplifies what diligence, security vigilance and valor looks like in this industry. She is an amazingly busy and competent investigator, yet always has time for a kind word, a thoughtful message, a human interaction. Despite all our technology and AI tools, this business is about humans and the way we perceive and are perceived. I try to be as professional and reachable as Kitty. I also try to be as stunning and well-poised, though I have a ways to get to her level of legacy.
Read about Cynthia and the other honorees at the Protective Intelligence Honors.