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Secure Home

An illustration which imagines an IOT integrated home in the future, visul cybersecurity measures required for the new technology.

Photo of Rebecca Wang
25 15

Written by

Sketch 1 (1,500 characters)

As IOT grows into the home environment, it’s possible to see a future where all homes will contain a network of connected devices. In this drawing of an imaginary smart home, a woman is performing a routine security update on the smart devices in her home with the holographic projection created by her smartwatch. The image of the house on the projected screen provides the interface for her to interact with the smart devices. The rest of the pictured smart devices, such as the small autonomous vacuum and lamp, report their status to her. This image shows some of the methods to improve cybersecurity in IOT environments. Automation servers can be compromised by attackers for surveillance and information theft. For example, a hacker could modify the system code to take snapshots and send activity information with this kind of attack. By checking the automation rule files, creating backups, and having a basic understanding of the devices, people can ensure the security of their devices and their environment. I’ve visualized my idea with illustration to make the imagery seem more welcoming. The idea itself also focuses on how people can take initiative to protect themselves, which moves away from the over representation of negative aspects of cybersecurity.

Sketch 2 (1,500 characters)

Some other recommended practices for cybersecurity include two-factor authentication and practicing good password hygiene. A recent article I had read (see link at the bottom) detailed how attackers can use an internet-connected speaker to command home assistants, and by cloning someone's voice they can get around voice recognition security measures. To illustrate this concept, I decided to follow a different visual direction by using a short comic strip to demonstrate how smart home devices could be more secure by asking for a password or requiring some other kind of authentication from the owner. I thought this would be a more accessible way of introducing the concept to a wider audience, as comics can be more lighthearted and approachable while still communicating the key idea. Original Article:

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

I tried to avoid any stereotypical associations with cybersecurity (the binary numbers, white men in hoodies, etc.) as mentioned in the brief, however I also wanted to explore using non-traditional imagery with illustration and comics to create a friendlier and approachable appearance. It was interesting to try and challenge myself to find ways to represent IOT devices and security without resorting to typical imagery as described above, as well as the stereotypes for IOT as well (a cloud of devices linked by various lines) and encouraging a deeper understanding of the real threats and ways that people can keep themselves safe. I can definitely say that I found the sketches challenging, and I look forward to exploring new ways to effectively communicate concepts in cybersecurity and technology visually.

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

I am a design student and visual creative from Ottawa, Canada. I have professional experience in graphic design and am currently studying product design. I'm interested in the influences that the everyday objects we use have on our lives.

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

IDEO's work with human-centered design has always been very inspiring to me as a designer, so when I found this challenge through IDEO's website I was very interested in learning more! Recently, I've completed a project in school which partnered with a local hospital to explore how IOT can be used to help aid people with dementia live more idependently. Learning about smart homes while working on this project has made me more aware of security concerns, so when I saw this challenge I wanted to apply my experience as a visual creative to address it!

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?

  • I’m a visual design undergraduate student.

How did you hear about this OpenIDEO Challenge?

  • Other

Location: City


Location: State / District


Location: Country

  • Canada

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

Internet of Things, Hackers and Hacking

Final Portfolio (1,500 characters)

For my final submission, I chose to focus on what people can do to keep their smart devices secure. Illustrations 1 and 2: I've drawn people in environments you normally don't think of as part of a "smart home" - a nursery and a bathroom. These are both sensitive places, which I chose to give context to what having an IoT home means, and motivate people to protect themselves. The characters are doing basic things to protect themselves in a relaxed way, showing that security isn't difficult or overwhelming. For Illustration 1: A woman is performing routine product updates on devices in her bathroom - this is important because it helps patch security issues that could get hacked. For Illustration 2: A mother is going through a set up wizard, which emphasizes the importance of understanding your product and setting it up properly (making it harder to hack into). For both illustrations I've included an imaginary overlay element that shows the different devices (keeping the sci-fi element from the original submission) and how many different things can be smart devices. Illustration 3: This drawing was inspired a major concern with IoT devices being hacked to create botnets. Things like the Mirai Botnet shows how much chaos can be caused - because many don't change default passwords! Here I'm showing a person who has changed their password and protected their device from a sea of hacked smart devices. I hope to raise awareness and encourage people to change their passwords.

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

My original concept was to emphasize the less threatening side of personal cybersecurity and how it relates to IoT devices. I have expanded upon this idea in my final submission, which includes illustrations depicting simple ways people can better improve their cybersecurity with smart devices.

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

I would imagine these graphics could be used in an online article or blog post (as editorial illustrations) to accompany written pieces educating people about the kinds of security concerns with IoT devices and how to protect themselves.

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

My most useful feedback was from my mentorship call with Susan Hennessey (huge thanks!). She helped me visualize ways I could expand on my original idea, especially the context for the illustrations. She expressed how she liked the character I originally depicted was calm and comfortable, which is far from the case in existing visuals. She suggested that the images should communicate what an ordinary person should be aware of, especially now that IoT devices are brought into the home – a very intimate environment. She thought that showing environments where you wouldn’t normally invite someone into, that would emphasize the importance of making sure your home is secure - and that this is part of being a good parent/citizen/friend. Another point that came up during the mentorship call was that people often don’t do the basic things that could help improve their personal security because they’re often intimidated or overwhelmed. I drew upon these points to create my final portfolio.

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

The biggest shifts that have occurred since my original idea include showing specific actions that people do easily to protect themselves, as well as visualizing a common concern with IoT devices and how to protect yourself against it. Both of these ideas were based off of my mentorship call and the specific advice provided by my mentor. In terms of the first two illustrations, they now show people in specific environments (bathroom and nursery) that are sensitive and private, which sends a stronger message for people to act. The fact that they show a specific action also helps make it easier for people to act. The third illustration educates people about a modern threat and exactly how people can act with their existing devices, which is something the original submission lacked . I believe that this portfolio is much stronger than my original submission as it is grounded in real world applications and concepts, has a more refined style and stronger message.

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

I consulted with my mentor on the specific illustrations I could make. During our discussion we talked about how many IoT devices now exist, in things that you wouldn't normally think of - like a fridge or a car, and they're being brought into environments where you'd want to keep things private. I drew upon my past school IoT research project to inspire some of the devices I included in both the first and second illustration. For the third illustration, I was inspired by the facts that were brought up during my mentorship call - a really big concern with a lot of IoT devices is hacking, mainly because people don't bother changing their default passwords! My mentor mentioned the Mirai Botnet, which I did some further research on. I've included the link to the article I've read here:

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

I hope that these images will be used in a way that encourages people to take action with their own smart devices, and feel empowered to protect themselves. There's a lot of focus on negative with cybersecurity, and I think that it makes people feel overwhelmed and powerless - which isn't true at all! I also wanted to try depicting the context in which cybersecurity can happen. I chose to focus on the home for a big part of my submission because a lot of the human connection to cybersecurity is overlooked. People aren't always aware of how connected they and their real lives are to their security, and I wanted my illustrations to help make send this message as well.

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 in ways I could communicate ideas about cybersecurity in terms of subject matter and visual language - I tried to express some key concepts with illustration, because I felt that I could depict things in a "friendly" and non-threatening way. This suited my idea, but as I've done more research into ways in which security could be compromised, I feel that it's really important that concerns about security be brought to the forefront in more contexts! I'd like to try exploring with a more graphic design approach in the future, maybe collaborating with some cybersecurity organizations to create visuals for an online campaign to raise awareness and show ways people can be more secure in all aspects of their lives, not only relating to smart devices but overall cybersecurity.

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

I definitely found the mentorship call helpful! In terms of information and general background understanding, the links posted to the challenge pages really helped me get up to speed with basic cybersecurity knowledge.

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 Gabriel Luke

Nice Article and I will also suggest some More secure and Advance methods of Home or Business Security. Like is giving Real-time Identity Verification Services.
Knowing your customer identity eliminates risks, online frauds, and financial crimes. Verify Selfies, ID Documents and Mobile 2FA from anywhere in only 30 seconds.

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