My other computer is ...
A series of unlikely or unexpected "hackers" with a sticker proclaiming that their other computer is your device.
Sketch 1 (1,500 characters)
I was thinking of a simple way of depicting the "unassuming attacker" in a variety of different images. This could work as a campaign with different images and "stickers" to provide interest and humor. The idea would be to show a number of different types of people of all backgrounds, ages genders, etc, with the commonality that they are immersed in their own device while bragging (via sticker) that they have access to yours. This sticker concept is a play on the bumper sticker "My other car is a ... " with some ironic statement that follows. This concept is also a play on what is a "computer" these days. This kid is playing on a (rather old) gaming system, which could in theory still be used to hack into a server. Another visual element of the campaign could be that different people have all different types of devices such as phones, game systems, tablets, laptops, even some odd IoT appliances. In addition, the "stickers" could reference other types of devices to get people considering how their "computers" are more than just laptops and phones. For example, "My other computer is your baby monitor", or "... your car", "your toaster", "your heart monitor" etc.
A concept image for a campaign which shows a series of random people of all types and ages with a sticker suggesting they have access to your device.
For a multi-image campaign, three possible "stickers" that could appear on the back of the person's laptop or device.
What have you learned through this sketching process? (1,000 characters)
I have enjoyed thinking of ideas for this challenge and am impressed with what others are doing so far. One thing I keep coming back to is, what are we really trying to convey for the biggest positive impact? Even with this concept, does it really move the needle so much if people realize malicious hackers are everyday people? Do we make real change by reminding everyone they are being spied on all the time in a variety of ways? Consider that people are already on information overload with everything else in their lives. Even though they hear about these breaches, and maybe even had their personal information stolen, it often puts them into counterproductive mindsets such as "It's so broken what could I do to fix it?", or "Nobody cares about my stuff so I won't worry". I think the better we can all address the question of, "How does this impact me?", the more successful we can be with this initiative.
Tell us more about you. (1,000 characters)
I worked in the Cybersecurity industry for nearly two decades and in recent years was responsible for communicating complex security topics to customers and the general public. Starting around 2011, I became increasingly aware of a much larger number of data breaches being reported as compared to past years. I started to track these in a database and created a unique data visualization to convey the impact, frequency, and attack types of these security incidents. Since then, I have left corporate employment to focus my attention towards other creative pursuits with photography, dreams, and the study of human consciousness. I am the founder of Aminus3.com, a photography community with thousands of photographers from over a hundred countries, as well as Zoom In Reach Out, a youth outreach program which educates underserved communities about photography and connecting through imagery.
Why are you participating in this Challenge? (750 characters)
While I have shifted my focus outside the Cybersecurity industry, I am still an advocate for raising awareness for the safe use of technology. I can empathize with the need to create a better visual language for non-practitioners to better understand the issues and how they relate to each and every one of us. As a photographer, I have sometimes considered how to better depict cybercrime outside of the same overused tropes, though had not yet taken the opportunity.
What is your experience with the field of cybersecurity?
I have considerable experience and/or knowledge in the cybersecurity field.
What best describes you?
I’m a professional visual creator affiliated with an organization.
How did you hear about this OpenIDEO Challenge?
Location: State / District
What opportunity areas are you covering with this final portfolio? (250 characters)
Hackers and Hacking, Internet of Things, Digital Privacy + Encryption, Trustworthiness, Wildcard
Final Portfolio (1,500 characters)
Malicious hackers are not always the people you might expect. In the physical world it is much more obvious what is risky and what is safe. In the digital world it is often not as clear. For example, you might avoid parking your car in an unsafe neighborhood, but would not think twice about connecting to public WiFi at the coffee shop without a VPN.
A photo from the "My Other Computer" series.
An example of one of many images you can generate on the website https://myothercomputer.com/openideo
An example of one of many images you can generate on the website https://myothercomputer.com/openideo
Free to enter but is the risk worth the reward?
The original concept for "My Other Computer".
In addition to challenging the typical depictions of who is a malicious hacker and what do they look like, the question of "what is a computing device" is also considered. Going beyond phones, laptops, and tablets, what devices do we use in our home and business that could leave us vulnerable to exploitation? As our technology gets "smarter" and more connected, it can become more vulnerable to being accessed or abused for malicious use.
These creations are a lighthearted look into how each of us are personally impacted by cybercrime, where and how we are most at risk, and who is actively seeking to exploit our digital life.
The final portfolio consists of the attached static images as well as an originally created interactive website to generate reusable content and educate about Cybersecurity at https://myothercomputer.com/openideo.
How would you summarize your final portfolio in 100 words or less? (650 characters)
Malicious hackers are not always the people you might expect. In the physical world it is much more obvious what is risky and what is safe. In the digital world it is often not as clear. As our technology gets "smarter" and more connected, it can become more vulnerable to being accessed or abused for malicious use. These creations are a lighthearted look into how each of us are personally impacted by cybercrime, where and how we are most at risk, and who is actively seeking to exploit our digital life.
Briefly describe your imagined use case for the work in your portfolio. (250 characters)
This content could be used for educational, editorial, and even entertainment purposes. These images and website could be of interest to a general audience of people with a basic level of technological understanding or cybersecurity background.
What was the most useful feedback that you received? (1,000 characters)
One of the more interesting suggestions, after showing a draft of a new concept in a mentor call, was to focus on people's hands. Hands can be a very telling yet subtle portrayal of an "attacker", conveying a great deal of information without the need to be as visually direct. On further reflection, it also occurred to me that in the digital world, attackers through the use of their hands often initiate an attack by pulling a "virtual trigger" via technological interfaces vs. physical weapons. One of the objectives of this challenge was to depict "hackers" in a different way than the hoodie male stereotype. It seems that by showing a variety of hands on devices, we can communicate a lot of subtle queues to the viewer which convey new ways of thinking about who is a hacker. With this in mind, I have made hands a feature of my imagery for both the interactive graphics generated by the website (myothercomputer.com) as well as in the static image submissions.
How have your concepts evolved since the Ideas Phase? (1,000 characters)
I believe the success of this campaign is in the ability to show a diverse range of people, devices, targets, and scenarios where cybercrime takes place. Scoping the project, I did not have the resources to book photo shoots for a lot of models and scenes. I changed from a pure photographic medium to a cartoon collage style providing a way to reuse assets to generate a larger number of images which cover more of the opportunity areas for this challenge. As I began working with this new style, I created a mix and match "avatar selector" game to be released as an originally designed website for anyone to interact with as they choose.
This was the origin of the website https://myothercomputer.com/openideo
Through the website I have provided a large variety of backgrounds, people, devices and "stickers" which can all be mixed to generate many different combinations of downloadable images. The website also provides educational materials about the project and the risks of cybercrime.
How have you been able to incorporate technical accuracy into your concepts? (1000 characters)
All of the "targets" as shown on the device "stickers" are based on actual security incidents and vulnerabilities in real world systems. The My Other Computer Website has links to several security incident examples involving traditional computing platforms and networked "smart" IOT devices.
The website also explains some of the real world risks associated with these devices in a fairly non-technical but relatable way that will hopefully educate visitors on why good security hygiene is critical for everyone.
How do your concepts expand the conversation on cybersecurity? (1000 characters)
My objective with this project was to expand the conversation around several pertinent topics including:
- Who is a malicious hacker and what do they look like?
- What is a computing device and how am I personally at risk from the technology I interact with at home and work?
- Where might I be vulnerable to cybercrime, and is it somewhere I might not suspect?
- Is the risk worth the reward? How much is my personal information worth and should I think twice about giving it away.
These images could be used for a variety of purposes including:
- Editorial (in articles and blogs around Cybersecurity)
- To depict cybercrime after a security incident has occurred (with selection of exploited devices and scenarios)
- As stand alone posters or digital images used for awareness or education
- As memes or shareable content that entertain while informing
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)
I believe the concept for this project is quite versatile and open ended.
By distributing imagery through a dedicated website like My Other Computer, it is possible to continue updating with new content representing threats which do not yet exist, or are hot topic issues going forward.
For the challenge, I strived to depict the effectiveness of this base concept, and to demonstrate how it can be used for a variety of topics around Cybersecurity.
With additional funding and resources, it could be possible to further customize this concept for specific purposes, audiences, educational outreach initiatives, and editorial content.
Commitment to Creative Commons License (CC BY 4.0)
Yes, I ensure that my portfolio is in compliance with CC BY 4.0.