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Finding the line between trust and turning a blind eye

Are we looking in the wrong direction?

Photo of Nathan Anderson
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Sketch 1 (1,500 characters)

How do you visualize something like the Cambridge Analytica scandal or what happened with Equifax? Topics like this are complicated and frankly, quickly boring to most people. The plan is to mix real, journalism style photos and subtle special effects to visualize some pieces of what's happening with modern scandals like these that everyone hears about but few people can actually explain. Focusing on the actual passing over of data, we can get specific with our visual ques to relate to real-life scenarios that people do everyday and don't realize it could lead to a data leak (think Cambridge Analytica on this one). Getting into another similar but different area of motivation, the sketch "Distracted influence" shows how we could get specifically political with person A being distracted because they're on their phone and those seemingly minor things are leading them over to "the other side" like someone is pulling them over. Eventually they're on the other side and have no idea how they even got over there. In the "distracting sales" sketch, we can focus on similarities to what happened with Cambridge Analytica and there being a "splash effect" with people's friends having their data stolen when they never even took the quiz. This image is showing how the "distraction" theme can relate to everyday life in normal situations. It it people's fault that data is stolen from them? Of course not. People should know how leaks like this are happening though.

Sketch 2 (1,500 characters)

You want that new filter for the most amazing selfie your friends have ever seen. It takes a second to scan your face and it was totally free, what's the harm? Worst case you might have to look at an add or two... right? While trying to stop people from stealing your data is certainly important, what about those times where we just hand it over? Keeping with the overall theme of the series, this direction focuses more on the traps we see trending in making software "sticky". Everyday people with no idea of what's going on being essentially tricked into giving up important data. Visually, this can expand from simple, realistic photos that illustrate the technology with subtle on-screen graphics to short videos and simple animations on the same topics. Scenarios to visualize include: - A teenager scanning their face in their bedroom with the data being cut down through various channels and eventually sold on the black market (see sketch) - Someone holding up a mask that's a computer screen that says "trust me, I'm the good guy" when below the cut off you can see they are the "bad guys" selling your data - Person on social media hitting "Private" button and below that off screen we see that that's not actually the "real" private button so the whole world will still see that post The idea here is to visualize common event's that people can look at and instantly say "Hey, I've done that!" From there we can help them understand the tools they use better.

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

There are certainly a lot of things that need to illustrated in the cybersecurity world. The more I dive into the subject the more that I want to get out and take better photos and videos of the realities of all this software so that people can understand it better. It will still be a challenge to find ways to visualize "the bad guys" in a new way that's not reminiscent of "The Matrix". Some quick thoughts on how to do that include creating moody scenes that are clearly negative but not necessarily a black room with a man in a hoodie. I'm also interested in visually exploring ways we can mix common hand drawn illustration with real photos to help aid in telling the audience "This is the bad person"

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

Nowadays, I spend my time building websites, designing animations, and working on various videos for a lot of different companies. Outside of work I do a lot of photography. After focusing on my own photography for a while with Unsplash ( I'm finally doing my own project with my photos.

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

It's incredibly hard to change people's minds. I like that challenge. The idea that there are NO good photos for something as ranging as cybersecurity makes me excited to get involved in just trying to get more things out there. I think more companies should be pushing for this sort of thing, especially with cybersecurity.


Video production:

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 professional visual creator affiliated with an organization.

How did you hear about this OpenIDEO Challenge?

  • In the news

Location: City

Knoxville, TN "The maker city"

Location: State / District


Location: Country

  • United States of America

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

Hackers and Hacking, Trustworthiness, Digital Privacy + Encryption

Final Portfolio (1,500 characters)

The coffee shop photos are showcasing how visible some data is on open wifi networks. It's a little less about someone directly opening your computer like they have access and more like you're showing they world all your data. This is why the secure wifi photo still includes all the data but it's blurred and non-readable. The data brokers images are a way to showcase first: how typical these data brokers really are and second, to showcase how personal your data can be that is sold and without you even knowing about it. Data brokers aren't guys in hoodies in the basement, they're big companies. And data collecting isn't always done by big data brokers in the first place (this would be an interesting concept to explore more).

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

Looking in the wrong direction. It's easy to get caught up in social media and what is trending and not look at what is really being done with your data and how easy it can be to obtain it.

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

Journalism articles, specific how-to blog posts explaining wifi and other common trends in security. Mostly those audiences that wish to help illustrate their points in some more specific and realistic ways.

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

There was a lot of great feedback in the mentorship call. Most helpful was probably the mention of data brokers - that really brought the face scanning concept to a place where I could highlight something accurate on the other end of that deal instead of the typical vague dark room solo hacker.

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

At first the coffee shop wifi photos were going to be about someone specifically trying to hack into another computer. Once more research was done, I found that it was more accurate to showcase how visible your data can be on open wifi networks vs it being encrypted on secure networks.

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

The wifi secure networks is such a common thing that people are usually misguided about how it really works. Showcasing that in a more accurate way was a big deal. Also the data brokers being just regular, run of the mill business people was a great way to break the stigma about these being "shady people in basements" instead of the reality which is that they are large companies with regular employees.

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

The coffee shop wifi photos: These photos iterate that it's not necessarily about people trying their hardest to hack into your system, sometimes it really is just as easy as paying a little more attention. The data brokers photos: The more you can know about your data the better. In the case of data brokers sometimes you aren't even a customer yet your data was involved in a leak nonetheless. Or you signed a long agreement that said your data would be sold because no one takes the time to read those long agreements anyways. These things might not be your fault but the fact is your data was leaked. The more you can realize that and protect your data, 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)

I'd like to explore more animation into specific examples. Gifs are one thing but smooth motion in video is another. I think practicing taking something that experts find a hard time relation to people and making a quality story out of it could go far. I also work with VR (virutal reality videos) and think they have a lot of these same problems so I'd love to take these concepts to that field as well.

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

The mentor meeting with other creatives was the most helpful to me. There's something about artists being good at both giving and receiving honest feedback even when they're strangers.

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 Nathan Anderson  .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!

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