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Convenience Vs Security & The Black Swan events

Uncovering the human values behind our fast-paced adoption of IoT and how it will impact our security.

Photo of Kruthika Maddipoti
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Written by

Sketch 1 (1,500 characters)

I’m interested in creating visuals that bring humanity into cybersecurity and the Internet of Things space. I aim to do so by employing systems thinking to uncover the mental models behind cyberattacks through IoT devices. Looking at the IoT and Cybersecurity space from the perspective of people adopting them, there is always a debate between convenience and value vs security. We don’t have a proper mechanism to help people understand the tradeoffs and make a decision. We can start by visualizing these tradeoffs in best, average and worst-case scenarios. But what if our system (policy, regulation, consumer education, design and manufacturing standards) is robust enough that people don't have to choose one over the other and instead have both these values embedded in the devices they purchase? This visual is an attempt to depict the balance between the values of convenience and security and what is needed in a larger context of economic, social and governance domains to support them. As a systems thinker, I’m interested in getting to the root of a problem to solve it, which requires understanding the mental models and value systems that we operate on. My next steps will be to map the stakeholders in this space and what they can do to support the seesaw of convenience and security from underneath.

Sketch 2 (1,500 characters)

I created this visual inspired from the 'Fish Tank Cyber Attack' where a casino got hacked through its internet-connected fish tank thermometer. It represents the vulnerabilities in IoT security that lead to catastrophic events that are highly unpredictable. These events are metaphorically called ‘Black Swans’ because they were believed not to exist until a dutch explorer discovered them in Western Australia. Cyber attacks are one of the prominent examples used to explain the Black Swan theory because rapidly growing technologies open more avenues for attackers to reach their targets, making the attack unpredictable for IoT users. As the IoT market continues to grow and more devices enter our home, we should be aware of their vulnerabilities and know how they can impact us. I'm interested in using metaphors to explain how our online interactions can lead to real-world impact offline. I believe 'Black swan' is a thought-provoking metaphor that allows people to understand the complexity of the system without getting into the irrelevant details that take up people's time and energy. To take the visual forward, the next steps for me will be to segregate smart home devices from wearables and create different black swan visuals for each. At the same time, I would like to communicate with IoT and Cybersecurity professionals to learn more about the steps they are taking to prepare for black swan events in the future.

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

Through the process, I learned to avoid having an information overload while learning about cybersecurity by synthesizing and segregating information using post-its, systems thinking frameworks and sketches. I also learned to document my work as I'm doing it, which not only created reference points for me to go back to when I was stuck but also helped me gather content for my portfolio. Above all, I learned to step out of my habit of perfecting initial concepts which allowed me to experiment with more ideas until I found the ones that worked the best.

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

I'm a graduate student at Parsons School of Design, currently pursuing MS in Strategic Design & Management. I was previously trained as an Architect and Interior Designer, where I grew passionate about systems thinking and storytelling which led to me to pursue this degree. I'm highly interested in the field of education and design's role in it, especially in making complex theories accessible to everyone by simplifying them through visuals and stories.

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

I'm participating in this challenge because of my interest in simplifying complex theories and making them accessible to everyone. The awareness around cybersecurity is confined to its professionals and expands only to people from the IT field. I want to work on helping people understand the basics of cybersecurity and how to keep themselves protected while using IoT devices. With more than 50% of the world's population on the internet, I believe having access to this knowledge is a basic necessity.


LinkedIn profile - Personal website (website is under progress, will update it soon) -

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 design graduate student.

How did you hear about this OpenIDEO Challenge?

  • In the news

Location: City

New York City

Location: State / District

New York

Location: Country

  • United States of America


Join the conversation:

Photo of Dima Boulad

Welcome to the challenge Kruthika Maddipoti and thank you for your contribution! I really like the analog sketches to portray our relationship with IoT. How would you consider pushing your sketches further? We've had a large number of very interesting submissions so far and we will be going through them one by one in the Review phase. In the meantime, we invite you to browse other submissions and join the conversation around cybersecurity on the platform!

Photo of Kruthika Maddipoti

Hello Dima Boulad thank you for taking the time to review my contribution. For the 1st sketch, I'm planning to take it further by creating 2 animated gif series for - 1. Convenience vs Security tradeoffs on a day-to-day basis and 2. How do we balance both these values? For the 2nd sketch, I’m planning to create separate visuals for different types of IoT devices we interact with, like wearables, smart homes, and smart grids, etc. and illustrate their vulnerabilities that leave us open black swan events.