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Divergent Realities & The Defense Against

We must identify the divergent realities that we experience in cyberspace, and plan our defenses against potential risks

Photo of Ian Carr
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Sketch 1 (1,500 characters)

Cyberspace is a vast environment where virtual interaction occurs. The spaceship depicts the voyage of typical users who must protect themselves from potentially hazardous content. The asteroids represent the various types of threats, whereas the size of the asteroid signifies the severity of the potential threat. As voyagers progress through cyberspace, they must defend against these malicious attacks. This concept was inspired by the metaphor of a vast cyberspace we all enter whenever we connect with a device. This sketch was an early idea generated through brainstorming various metaphors related to cybersecurity. The concept of cyberspace is generally recognized by all people, which makes the concept and visualization more intuitive. This goes a long way in benefiting the viewer of the visualization. In the updated version, I would like to spend time adding detail to the environment, and experimenting with various platforms and styles. For example, I currently used a flat design theme. However, I am curious how this environment would appear if it were displayed in the theme of pixel art. I am also interested in making this an animated GIF.

Sketch 2 (1,500 characters)

Some hackers attempt to use a deceptive technique called phishing, which refers to the act of disguising oneself as a reputable company or organization in order to steal valuable information from unsuspecting individuals. This manipulative performance is nothing more than a fear tactic that convinces gullible people into consensually providing hackers with their most personal information. This sketch has a theme of “the upside down” from the Netflix series, Stranger Things. The concept focuses on how there are two realities to a phishing scheme: one where an individual believes they are being contacted by a legitimate company, and one where a hacker is using fear to manipulate a stranger. This concept was inspired by the frequent stories I hear from workmates and family members who are targeted by hackers through phone calls, social media, and emails. This sketch was quickly mocked-up in Procreate on my iPad Pro, using the Apple Pencil. After brainstorming possible metaphors that relate to hacking, the metaphor for luring people with “phishing” is one that stood out because it doesn’t take much cognitive load to understand the correlation. In the updated version, I would like to spend time creating different figures, such as people, rather than cartoon circles.

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

I have found it rather odd that designers continue to reuse the same concepts to convey their infographics or visualizations. A truly unique, user-centered design can provide substantial assistance in bringing information to the forefront. Recycling the same concepts of hooded hackers and neon green binary code will not help information stand out, which hinders potential understanding. I gladly took this opportunity to find additional time to consider how cybersecurity visualizations could be more specialized for the topic that they concern. I believe it was necessary to enter a creative mindset and rapid prototype low-fidelity mockups for this project. This consisted of brainstorming cybersecurity-related metaphors and quickly sketching them on sticky notes. Without this activity, I would not have planned this concept thoroughly.

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

I am an undergraduate student at Purdue University that is pursuing a BS in User Experience Design and an MS in Computer Graphics Technology. I began working as a Design Thinking Intern at Redhorse Corporation this summer, where I was recently converted to a part-time position as a UX/UI Designer. I plan to continue this employment throughout the next two years while continuing my education in research and design. I am interested in the work that I do every day, and devoted to gaining more experience. For the last year, I have been participating in information visualization research, which focuses on creating effective visualizations by utilizing cognitive mechanisms. One example of this is incorporating image schemas into the design process. I am greatly motivated and inspired by my professors, who conduct several intriguing research projects, while still finding the time to guide my education of design cognition and human-centered design.

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

As a user experience designer and design cognition researcher, I recognize that visualizations need to be intuitive for all viewers. If a visualization does not quickly provide the viewer with a clear understanding of the concept, it has failed to benefit the viewer. A vague or non-intuitive visualization will lead to an increased effort for comprehension, which may lead to cognitive overload. Data can be interpreted in dramatically different ways based on the various types of visualization that designers choose to utilize into their models. My research focuses on this concept, and I would like to provide firsthand assistance by strengthening future visualization concepts.


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?

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

Location: City

West Lafayette

Location: State / District


Location: Country

  • United States of America

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Dima Boulad

Welcome to the challenge Ian Carr and thank you for your contribution! I like the space analogy. 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!