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Inspiring Cyber Security - Photography Guide

All too often the powerful tool of photography is overlooked in communicating about the cyber security domain.

Photo of Jeroen de Bakker
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Sketch 1 (1,500 characters)

- Overview example sketch - The role of the Internet is constantly increasing in our daily lives. Not only is all of our personal data stored online but our physical world is also connected to the Internet; essential parts of our daily lives - such as the height of the water level, the purity of our drinking water, the flow of electricity, the tracks our trains ride upon, and even our money - are controlled via the internet.  But if you google “cyber security” images of hackers in hoodies and glowing green binary code appear. Sadly, the major news outlets also use this kind of imagery. The technical background of this subject in combination with the imagery in the media make it a very abstract subject for the general public. First step in understanding a subject is to feel some personal relation to it, and that is very hard with binary code or a (complex) illustration. That is part of the reason that people fail to see this subject as the heart of modern daily life.  Photography is a very powerful tool in the battle for making cyber security more comprehensible and less abstract to the general public. Showing actual places, people and situations where people can relate to can make a big difference. My aim is to create an inspirational photography guide for photographers & journalists showing it is possible to photograph imagery for this subject. But it takes some thought, creativity and not the least, trust building with the subjects you want to photograph.

Sketch 2 (1,500 characters)

- Healthcare & Cyber security sketch - A more detailed sketch of photography in relation to a specific domain / story: This is the Da Vinci surgical robot. The robot minimises the size of the wound and specialists can operate the robot from anywhere around the world if needed, not having to fly over a surgeon for a specialist job.  The advantages are obvious but it demonstrates as well the importance of sound digital security as we move towards a society where even these kinds of life-dependant systems are online. The combination of the two images give a clear relation between a life depending task (surgery) and Cyber Security (Surgeon controlling machine). In the sketch I have given some pointers what to look for when photographing a subject / situation like this.

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

Cyber security is not about machines, it is about people and the world around them. It is a subject that influences the most vital parts of our society and should be treated as such. But with realising this, I also realised we as a society are far away from that understanding. From general public to policy makers, from builders to users, from software to hardware.

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

My name is Jeroen de Bakker (38), I am a documentary photographer from The Netherlands. As a photographer, I work on stories that I personally find important to communicate about. During the production of my stories I find partners & media outlets that help me get the message out to the public. I realised already in 2016 the photographs and imagery about cyber security shown in the media are well under par, not doing justice to the subject, and most of all not contributing to understanding the field of cyber security. That’s when I started my Cyber Security photography project; Showing actual places where Cyber Security matters makes a big difference in understanding the full extent of the subject. 
I have photographed massive network operations centres, Red Team hackers, banks, data-centres, Telco providers, a reconstruction of NotPetya; the virus that crippled Ukraine and many more things. The body of photographs I have made to this date is the foundation for my submission. 

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

I have developed a strong affinity with this subject and I think as a society we are not fully realising the importance of cyber security. I feel very motivated in contributing to a better understanding of this subject.

Website(s)

www.jdebakker.com

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 freelancer.

How did you hear about this OpenIDEO Challenge?

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

Location: City

Amsterdam

Location: State / District

Noord-Holland

Location: Country

  • Netherlands

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

Wildcard: General coverage of Cyber Security in the Media

Final Portfolio (1,500 characters)

First step in understanding a subject as complex as Cyber Security is to feel a personal relation to it, and that is very hard with a stereotype photograph, scrolling binary code or a (complex) illustration. I believe that is part of the reason people fail to see this subject as the heart of modern daily life. Photography is a very powerful tool in the battle for making cyber security more comprehensible and less abstract to the general public. Showing actual places, people and situations where people can relate to can make a big difference. This is an inspiring photography guide for photographers & journalists showing it is possible to photograph imagery for this subject and work towards a better understanding of this vital topic. The ultimate goal is that via these media makers the general public is reached, perceive this subject as less abstract and start to understand the importance of Cyber Security in their own lives. In 2016 I started realising the photographs and imagery about cyber security shown in the media are not doing justice to the subject, and most of all not contributing to understanding the field of cyber security. That’s when I started my Cyber Security photography project which is the foundation for this cyber security photography guide. The photos that have been used are all personally photographed, no stock images are used. All 5 visuals articulate different parts of the cyber security domain and compliment each other.

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

An inspiring photography guide for photographers, journalists & media makers. Showing it is possible to photograph imagery for this subject that avoids stereotypes, uses real world images and does justice to the subject.

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

The portfolio can be shown to media makers, journalists, photographers etc. Showing how you can photograph for this subject and make imagery using real world examples.

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

Showing real world examples of cyber security environments and trying to stay away from current stereotypes of Cyber Security really works. So focus on that part.

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

The concept got evolved by extending it and giving more examples of how the cyber security world can be shown in media. Different focus areas are shown now (like personal stories, physical examples, counter-hacker stereotype images). Another important evolution was giving the concepts more and thorough background information with the visual examples.

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

Since this is a general photography guide to cyber security it does not focus on a specific technical aspect. So when working on the final submission the focus was more on refining the general storyline. But needless to say research went into making sure the facts behind the stories are correct.

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

My project aims to reach other media makers, journalists and other photographers. Showing them it is indeed possible to visualise the actual world of cyber security in a creative and communicative way. The ultimate goal is that via these media makers the general public is reached, perceive this subject as less abstract and start to understand the importance of Cyber Security in their own lives. As a photographer, I truly believe if that you can look another person in the eyes, you see and feel the emotion the person is dealing with you easily build a connection and open up for the story the person has to tell. An example of that is the reconstruction of the NotPetya as shown in my submission. This subject is about humans, not about machines and I am convinced that my photography guide is a contribution to this understanding.

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! I would love to extend this idea! There are many more places I would love to photograph, make stories more stories and put them into this photography guide. From the exciting field of artificial intelligence, healthcare, personal stories of people in the field of cyber security and many many more ideas I can think of. The most difficult part of this photography project is getting access to relevant places and people; so collaboration with partners that can vouch for me, introduce me to relevant places, people, governmental institutes would be great. Also partners that can share my photos and project would be very helpful. A beautiful story or photo is nothing if people don't see it. I hope getting on this challenge's shortlist, or even winning can contribute in finding partners and help me in getting my message out to the world.

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

The Webinar, the conversations and different points of view gave me focus and confirmation on the ideas that I was having for this challenge.

Commitment to Creative Commons License (CC BY 4.0)

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

3 comments

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Photo of Dima Boulad

I'm so glad to see the progress of this idea and the sketches into your final portfolio Jeroen de Bakker  .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 Rebecca Wang

Your photography is very beautiful and I really like how it effectively depicts the real world in how it relates to cybersecurity. Looking forward to seeing how the idea will be refined!

Photo of Dima Boulad

Hello Jeroen de Bakker  Happy to see your contribution to the Cybersecurity challenge. How would you consider pushing this idea further? We've had a large number of very interesting creations, have you had a chance to browse other submissions? There's a very interesting conversation around cybersecurity going on!