The OSMOSIS Institute Board of DIRECTOrs Announces 2023 Open Source Awards Winners

September 27, 2023 – Wanaque, NJ

The OSMOSIS Institute Board of Directors is pleased to announce the recipients of the fourth annual OSMOSIS Open Source Awards for the following categories:

Open Source Rising Star of the Year: Brandon LaVan

Open Source Legacy Intelligence Officer: Michael Bazzell

Open Source Technology Innovation of the Year: Skopenow Link Analysis

Open Source Non-Profit of the Year: Skull Games

Open Source Diversity Trailblazer of the Year: Michal Block

Open Source Intelligence Champion of the Year: Nico Dekens

The Open Source Awards will be presented in person and streamed live on October 17th at the 9th Annual OSMOSIS Conference, a training and networking event for online intelligence analysts across the globe.  

The Open Source Awards promote merit in career and professional training by recognizing those who have made extraordinary contributions to the field of open source investigations. Investigators and analysts rely on open source intelligence (OSINT) to locate and monitor critical intelligence found online from publicly available sources such as newspapers, magazines, trade journals, blogs, non-classified government documents, and social media platforms. OSINT tools, technologies, and monitoring services are invaluable when conducting background checks, tracking down fraudulent activities, and exposing cybersecurity terrorist threats.

“We are honored to recognize these champions of the information landscape, celebrating those who skillfully navigate the digital realm to protect the interests of society,” said Cynthia Hetherington, founder and CEO of The OSMOSIS Institute.  “The Open Source Awards honor the invaluable contributions of individuals and organizations dedicated to transparency, security, and the pursuit of knowledge. These winners serve as inspirational leaders in the OSINT community by embodying the core values of the OSMOSIS Institute and their commitment to its mission, ensuring a significant impact on the OSINT profession.”

The 2023 Open Source Rising Star of the Year is awarded to an OSINT professional who exhibits excellent potential through demonstrated investigative skills and talents and leadership at an early stage in their OSINT career (5 years or less).  This year’s recipient is Brandon LaVan, founder and operator of both Southwest Louisiana Process Service and Louisiana Private Investigations & Intelligence Agency.  An alumnus of the OSINT Academy, LaVan has been trailblazing the legal and private investigation sectors as a noted OSINT expert. His innovative and varied skill set, along with his extensive experience in law enforcement, probation and parole, and private investigation, distinguishes him as a leader in his field.  His deep understanding of these industries enabled him to provide crucial information to assist law enforcement, to include working with the U.S. Marshals Service on a missing child case.

The 2023 Open Source Legacy Intelligence Officer Award is awarded to an individual who is recognized as a seasoned and experienced leader, demonstrating greater than 10 years of commitment to open source intelligence investigations.  This year’s recipient is Michael Bazzell, owner of IntelTechniques, a privacy, security, & OSINT training and consulting service. A former member of the FBI’s Cyber Crimes Task Force, Bazzell was involved in numerous major criminal investigations including online child solicitation, child abduction, kidnapping, cold-case homicide, terrorist threats, and advanced computer intrusions.  His books Open Source Intelligence Techniques and Extreme Privacy are used by several government agencies as training manuals for intelligence gathering and privacy hardening.

The 2023 Open Source Technology Innovation of the Year Award is given to an open source technology, software, or product line launched or updated in the last 12 months whose innovative solutions have increased open source researchers’ workflow efficiencies and effectiveness.  This year’s winner is Skopenow Link Analysis, the only fully automated, one-click link analysis solution on the market. Skopenow’s Link Analysis stands out as a unique solution within the investigative community by providing a new level of efficiency and accuracy.  Its automation, ease of use, and integration with existing solutions separate it from competing products. Link Analysis offers investigators deep, visual insights into networks of people and businesses across multiple dimensions of their digital presence, ranging from social media and consumer records to court records, vehicle records, public records, and the dark web, providing an ability to uncover connections and patterns that would have been challenging or impossible to identify manually.

This year’s recipient of the 2023 Open Source Non-Profit of the Year Award is Skull Games. This award is bestowed upon a registered non-profit whose visionary open source work has excelled in serving the organization’s mission and whose distinguished achievements have resulted in substantial progress toward improving society and human lives.  Skull Games is a vetted crowd-sourcing initiative harnessing the talents of intelligence professionals from the military, law Enforcement, and the private sector.  Skull Games utilizes OSINT to identify victims of sexual exploitation, the predators abusing them, and other Persons of Interest by creating leads that enable law enforcement to interrupt the cycle of abuse and restore survivors of trauma to a life of hope, healing and freedom.

The 2023 Open Source Diversity Trailblazer of the Year award goes to Michal Block, Director of Intelligence at Skull Games.  This award goes to a person who serves as a change agent for a specific dimension of diversity by breaking ground through the use of open source skills and tools while demonstrating a commitment to the principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  Block’s leadership has fostered a supportive and collaborative work environment at Skull Games where she has nurtured a talented and diverse team of professionals who share her commitment to making a difference in the lives of those affected by human trafficking. Her innovative contributions and compassionate approach have not only saved lives but have also inspired positive changes in the intelligence community. Beyond her contributions at Skull Games, Block’s advocacy for open source intelligence and diversity extends to various forums and platforms as she actively participates in conferences and workshops to raise awareness about the power of open source intelligence, especially in combatting human trafficking. Through her example, she has created a positive ripple effect in the intelligence community.

The 2023 Open Source Intelligence Champion of the Year Award is awarded to an individual whose investment in and commitment to open source intelligence solutions and/or training have proven distinguished achievements in investigative casework.  This year’s award is presented to Nico Dekens, owner of Dutch Osint Guy Intelligence Services and an All Source Analyst who specializes in open source intelligence, online human intelligence (HUMINT) and online investigations. Dekens provides consultancy and training for Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT), risk assessments, keynotes, security awareness, and implementation of structured team methodologies.  He holds certifications as a Police Detective, Operational Intelligence Analyst, Tactical Intelligence Analyst, Strategical Intelligence Analyst, Open-Source Intelligence Analyst, Cyber Intelligence Tradecraft Professional, Online Counter Terrorism Specialist.

“We look forward to acknowledging and celebrating these prominent leaders that have demonstrated exceptional achievements, innovation, and dedication in utilizing OSINT for good,” stated Hetherington. For more information about the OSMOSIS Open Source Awards, please visit

About the OSMOSIS Institute

Founded by Cynthia Hetherington of Hetherington Group (Hg) in 2015, the OSMOSIS Institute hosts the annual OSMOSIS Conference to educate, inform and protect investigators and analysts within the cybersecurity industry. Developed by OSINT investigators for the legal, law enforcement, investigative journalism, business and accounting community, the OSMOSIS conference brings together some of the world’s most recognized social media and open source investigative trainers into one valuable educational experience. This gathering of experts offers non-stop training on the dark web, the latest cellular and desktop social media investigations, open source searching, asset research, and borderless possibilities on the international front, plus the legal implications of this.

Learn more and join at

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Sara A. Schaarschmidt, OSMOSIS

Email | [email protected]

Phone | +1 (973) 706-7525

OSMOSIS Institute Announces Launch of Professional Association

July 14, 2023 – Wanaque, NJ

OSMOSIS – The Association for OSINT Professionals commemorated their beta-launch at the 8th Annual OSMOSISCon held at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa Bay, FL on October 17th, 2023. This month, the full launch of the association has taken affect.

Envisioned by Hg’s founder and president Cynthia Hetherington and Cynthia Navarro, principal of Finnegan’s Way and co-founder of the podcast OSINT Cocktail, OSMOSIS—the Association for OSINT Professionals aims to advance the profession of open source intelligence gathering and analysis; to support the interests and efforts of open source investigators, researchers, and analysts; and to serve the public good by supporting a network of global investigators working to make our world a safer place.

“OSMOSIS Association is a community-driven platform dedicated to fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing, and professional growth within the OSINT community. As a member of the association, you will gain exclusive access to a wealth of resources, expert-led webinars, networking events, and much more. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to be a part of this vibrant community of professionals driving innovation and excellence in our industry,” stated Ms. Navarro.

In 2022, OSMOSIS hosted a booth at OSMOSISCon, where attendees learned more about the privileges and benefits of membership, registered as inaugural members for free, and met with other professional OSINT’ers. Now, OSMOSIS will become the official host of OSMOSISCon, which annually brings hundreds of open source intelligence professionals together to learn, share, and network.

We look forward to welcoming you to OSMOSIS and seeing you at our annual conference, and first official meeting at OSMOSISCon in New Orleans, Louisiana”, stated Ms. Hetherington. “Prepare for an unforgettable experience that will have a lasting impact on your professional journey as an OSINT’er, as together we will continue to develop this profession.”

The Association has fully launched its website, which will contain a members-only online community for those who join. Continuing education opportunities, chat boards, and more will draw thousands of professionals together to advance the goal of making the world a safer place for all.

Learn more and join at

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Kathleen R. McMorrow, The Communications Optic, LLC.

Email | [email protected]

Phone | +1 (973) 665-8167