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As Not Seen on TV

The reality of hacking and hackers - as not seen on TV.

Photo of Ifrah Y
8 2

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Sketch 1 (1,500 characters)

The world of hacking is very misunderstood as there are many stereotypes that are constantly perpetuated through media and television. Often, people view hackers as inherently malicious. However, the reality is that there are ethical hackers who search for vulnerabilities in systems and are legally employed in various sectors. To understand ethical hackers better, I compared them to researchers. Similar to researchers, hackers read between the lines, analyze information, and dig deeper to understand a particular system. The design I created is a computer being viewed with a magnifying glass to uncover a message. While the message is hard to see with the naked eye, using a magnifying glass (ethical hacking) exposes these messages (vulnerabilities).

Sketch 2 (1,500 characters)

Media and television depictions of hackers are often extremely inaccurate. Hackers are not always anonymous male figures in a dark room. Anyone can be a hacker. Your friend, the person you see on the subway every day, and your neighbour can all be hackers. Additionally, anyone can learn to be a hacker if they are curious. The hacker stereotype ignores and undermines the diversity in cybersecurity. Build-a-Hacker is meant to reflect the diversity in cybersecurity and allow people who are overlooked in cybersecurity discussions to see themselves accurately portrayed.

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

I am a graduate student from Toronto studying User Experience Design & Critical Information Policy Studies.

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

I have no experience in cybersecurity, which is why I was excited to learn more and challenge my own preconceptions about the field.

What is your experience with the field of cybersecurity?

  • I have never worked in cybersecurity before but am excited to learn more and get involved.

What best describes you?

  • Other

How did you hear about this OpenIDEO Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO email / social media

Location: City


Location: State / District


Location: Country

  • Canada

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

Hackers and Hacking, Internet of Things, and Digital Privacy + Encryption.

Final Portfolio (1,500 characters)

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

My final portfolio can be summarized by the phrase 'As Not Seen on TV'. Television and media constantly perpetuate stereotypes about cybersecurity that are misinformed and harmful. As a result, the average person does not know much about cybersecurity. I wanted these images not only be understood by cybersecurity professionals, but also the average person with no knowledge/experience in cybersecurity (like I was before this challenge).

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

I imagine my graphics being used by journalists, used to accompany articles/policy briefs related to cybersecurity, and also in educational contexts.

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

The most valuable feedback I received was from my mentor during our call. He told me how he imagined my graphics being used, which was helpful in shifting my focus for my new graphics. He also provided me with a lot of insight about IoT and privacy, which motivated me to explore those areas in my new graphics.

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

I decided to explore other opportunity areas (Internet of Things and Digital Privacy + Encryption).

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

During my mentorship call I was able to better understand the opportunity areas I chose, which allowed me to create more technically accurate graphics.

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

Some of the concepts I decided to illustrate are quite relevant to the average person. For instance, changing the default password on devices is something the average person can do to protect themselves. Additionally, I hope by illustrating a more diverse hacker, those perpetuating the hacker stereotype understand the reality of hacking 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)

If given additional time and resources I would have liked to create visuals with a different medium. In particular, I would have liked to explore animation.

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

The OpenIDEO community (organizers, other OpenIDEO participants, mentor) were very supportive as they all provided their feedback/suggestions about my graphics. The guides/personas created by the Cybersecurity Visuals Challenge team was great to refer back to.

Commitment to Creative Commons License (CC BY 4.0)

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


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Photo of Greg House

very interesting

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