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Cybersecurity is a lot like sex as, generally speaking, it's a bad idea to expose yourself to strangers.

Photo of Conor Caplice
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Sketch 1 (1,500 characters)

Let's be honest; sex sells. If the idea is to help better educate or represent the concepts surrounding good data hygiene, then let's equate it with hygiene practices people already understand, use, and understand the risks of. The thought behind this concept is, broadly speaking, to equate the idea of getting a computer virus with that of getting an STD. Both are things nobody wants to get and both are things that can be mitigated, if not entirely avoided, by using proper protection.

What have you learned through this sketching process? (1,000 characters)

I'm beginning to re-think my initial stance that communicating cybersecurity in a new, more engaging way is as difficult as I initially thought. The more I think about it, the more possibilities seem to open up -- I just wish I was a better graphic designer.

Tell us more about you. (1,000 characters)

I'm a 32 year-old Chicago native. I hold a Master's in English and am employed as a content manager at a Growth Consultancy in the western Chicago suburbs. I started teaching myself how to code in middle school and have always loved learning about new technology and revel in taking old pieces of tech apart to see how they work and how I can push the limits of what they were designed to originally do.

Why are you participating in this Challenge? (750 characters)

The ability to come up with new ideas on a topic relevant to a large group of people and then execute on those ideas and maybe, just maybe, be of some use in the future to someone else.



What is your experience with the field of cybersecurity?

  • I have minimal experience and/or knowledge in the cybersecurity field.

What best describes you?

  • I’m a visual creator by hobby.

How did you hear about this OpenIDEO Challenge?

  • In the news

Location: City

Chicago Suburbs

Location: State / District


Location: Country

  • United States of America

What opportunity areas are you covering with this final portfolio? (250 characters)

Hackers and Hacking and Trustworthiness with a dash of Digital Privacy.

Final Portfolio (1,500 characters)

The vision for my portfolio is to educate people about cybersecurity by using sexual analogies to initially hook them and get them to spend time with the image and think about their own cybersecurity hygiene practices. Ideally this would lead them to visit the website mentioned in each of the images -- which is a real site I put together for this challenge using one of my alternative original concepts -- that would give them a more interactive way of learning about and shoring up their own cybersecurity practices. To put it another way, for most people cybersecurity is either incredibly obscure or incredibly boring but pretty much everybody either likes or understands sex. My aim is simply to link the two concepts in peoples minds to make the process of learning about cybersecurity more enjoyable because let's face it, its really not that enjoyable for the average person, while demonstrating the importance of good cybersecurity practices. P.s. I had to add 1 image as an attachment because the "add image" button kept returning a 504 error when I would attempt to upload a GIF.

How would you summarize your final portfolio in 100 words or less? (650 characters)

It's is a fantastic concept trapped behind the limited graphic design skills of a man who only has GIMP to work with. It's funny, clever, and dare I say it - sexy. It is also, unfortunately, held back by its creators lack of design skills and aesthetic abilities. Thus, my portfolio is best graded on a curve (kidding!)(maybe?). My aim is simply to link the concepts of sexuality and cybersecurity in people's minds to make the process of learning about cybersecurity more enjoyable while also demonstrating the importance of good cybersecurity practice.

Briefly describe your imagined use case for the work in your portfolio. (250 characters)

Most of the images were designed for dual functionality. With the caption they could be used as part of an ad campaign to educate people about maintaining better cybersecurity. Without the captions, they could stand as general article/news headers.

What was the most useful feedback that you received? (1,000 characters)

"Get rid of the yubikey". The number of people who told me to use something other than a yubikey in my original image was... significant. It turns out most people don't know what they are so, I got rid of it. It did impact my concept slightly as the original idea was modified to use a webcam cover in its place.

How have your concepts evolved since the Ideas Phase? (1,000 characters)

These new submissions are definitely stronger than my original "cybersexurity" image. That said, my original idea was more of a one off that had popped into my head almost randomly. I was quite surprised to learn that out of the various images I had originally put forth, that one was the one that garnered the most traction. I had thought for sure that if I was to actually move on in this challenge it would be for the images inverting (subverting?) routine cybersecurity practices with which people are already familiar like the captcha image. Overall, my portfolio has shifted dramatically. It moved away from what I had believed was a stronger concept to something I had to nurture, grow, and really give a good deal of thought to and I think that even despite my limited design ability my final portfolio is all the better and stronger for it.

How have you been able to incorporate technical accuracy into your concepts? (1000 characters)

All my concepts are grounded in technical accuracy insofar as a technical concern served as the root of each image with a layer of "sexiness" then applied to it and resulting in the final image. Also, puns were super useful (how often do you get to say that, right?!) because they aided in the process of tying sexuality and cybersecurity together from a base design perspective. Condoms and computer software don't inherently go together, but once you're able to start playing with the language, ideas begin to spring increasingly into your mind such. For example; "anti-virus" leads to "computer virus" which leads to "trojan virus" which leads to "trojan condoms" which leads to "sexually transmitted disease" (a.k.a. virus) which brings it full circle and then all I had to do was put the imagery together.

How do your concepts expand the conversation on cybersecurity? (1000 characters)

I feel like this question was written specifically for my portfolio. The short answer is that it is my hope that my images will help to open up the conversation about cybersecurity through engagement, humour, and maybe even shock if nothing else. Imagine opening up an article on your favourite news website to read about yet another data breach and rather than the standard image of a guy with a hoodie in front of a laptop there's a picture of a condom. At the very least it would make you pause to consider your own best practices before yawning over the story of how such-and-such company just leaked the records of 18 Bajillion customers. At the very best, you may find the imagery engaging or different enough to share it online or tell your friends and co-workers about it. Either way, the more people talking about cybersecurity or engaging in better cybersecurity practices the better.

If you were provided with additional time and resources, are there additional ways that you’d wish to reimagine the visual language of cybersecurity? (1,000 characters)

YES! First, I'd like to get substantially better at graphic design and put together what I would call "professional grade" versions of the concepts I am submitting. Second, I would love to spend more time building out the website I created for this (www.Unhackable.Club) to create a more robust tool to help educate people about good cybersecurity practices. Third, I would want to find a way to bring cybersecurity education into the physical world. I'd love to come up with an engaging way for people to learn about cybersecurity in a way that actually means something to them and that they can connect with on a tangible level. Fourth, if your asking this question for a reason, feel free to reach out to me - I'm definitely open to taking this to the next level if you are.

What resources did you find most helpful? (optional, 1,000 characters)

I would say that of the resources provided by IDEO the most useful to me was the video call with Burton, Chelsea, and the other participants. The feedback recieved during the course of the call was incredibly useful and I would also add that while the calls were ideally supposed to be limited to two participants per mentor, I found it quite beneficial to have six people on that call. Not only were people able to bounce ideas off one another and provide ideas and feedback but it also engendered something akin to a team spirit -- it wasn't me competing against my fellow participants but rather it was all of us trying to forge a path forward to better educate the public and defeat hackers, creeps, spys, thieves, etc.

Commitment to Creative Commons License (CC BY 4.0)

  • Yes, I ensure that my portfolio is in compliance with CC BY 4.0.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Dima Boulad

I'm so glad to see the progress of this idea and the sketches into your final portfolio Conor Caplice  .As the review team is going through all submissions, I would like to take this chance to thank you for your participation in this Challenge and your dedication to this important and complex topic. Watch this space as we announce the top picks!

Photo of Conor Caplice

Thank you Dima Boulad it's been a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me and I was thrilled for the opportunity to participate!

Photo of Mai Arollado

Hi Conor, great strategy! such an eye catching I'm sure most adults can relate. and i think your visual can portray a clear straight forward visual communication.

For the graphics, may be you can elevate it a little bit by using some pop art technique, and check some fonts for typography that would really convey your message.

Good luck Conor! and this is a great job!
Best regards, Mai

Photo of Conor Caplice

Thanks! I don't know a ton about graphic design and I'm quite limited in my toolset but I'm hoping my final submission is a bit more eye-catching!