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What Is End-To-End Encryption?

Understand how encryption keeps your data secure in applications like WhatsApp and Signal.

Photo of Jen Zariat

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Sketch 1 (1,500 characters)

This is a very rough version of what will eventually be a text-heavy infographic about how end-to-end encryption works in programs like WhatsApp and Signal. Unfortunately i've had less than 24 hours since i heard about this challenge... I haven't had a chance to really edit the text for brevity yet; i was more concerned about translating the metaphor concept effectively. I'd like to add a section in the bottom left currently-empty-space that diagrams a Message like an envelope -- showing the To, From, and Postmark areas and labeling them to illustrate where the encryption originates and what function it serves in each aspect of the Message. Draw a circle around it and make it like a 'zoom' on the courier bag maybe? I'd like to make the Q&A in the bottom right be visually formatted to look like a text message conversation. The language is intended to be casual and familiar, like asking a trusted friend to explain the concept, and i feel this will be subtly conveyed visually with the text message dialogue format. There's so much more i'd like to add, but i'm about 10 minutes away from the deadline so i need to wrap this up.

Sketch 2 (1,500 characters)

This is my first draft drawing of my vision. It's a little heavy on the medieval imagery, but it lays the foundation for where i'm going. Here i have some sketches for icons i'd like to add to the final image... the keychain with icons of a computer and a phone as keys. Speech bubbles for the dragon and the courier to explain the dialogue. I'd like the courier guys to look more like the drawing here than the stick man icons i used in the digital sketch, but not be this detailed (too distracting). The guy in the tower window really makes the dispatch tower look more like what it's supposed to be. There are some good concepts here for detail stuff for the final image.

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

It's not easy to explain this process. I would like to use a lot less text in the final image, and more visual explanations. The most difficult part was trying to jump from 'what is encryption in general' to 'what does it do in this context'. At this point i think i'm using too many words to explain it -- it's difficult to adapt the message to the lowest common denominator. The metaphor also has to hold up to scrutiny, which is what i tried to cover in the Q&A in the bottom right. I don't think i'm quite there yet with the language.

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

Jen Zariat is a serial entrepreneur from the San Francisco Bay Area with a background in arts & entertainment, media, and technology. She co-founded Symbiosis Events in 2005, producers of an arts & music festival that grew to over 50,000 attendees in 2017, personally designing the brand identity and stewarding the marketing for the first decade. While producing the festival, and since leaving, Jen has also been working with early-stage companies on brand and identity development. In 2014 Jen was awarded a place in the Ampion program, in which she traveled to East Africa to mentor young tech entrepreneurs in a startup competition. Since returning to California, Jen has been focusing on more social impact projects, where she can apply her skills at launching businesses to create positive change in the world.

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

I found out about this contest yesterday through Bruce Shneier's Cryptogram email, so i haven't had much time to work on this. I'm a freelance designer who also happens to be a longtime infosec fangirl. I used to read Phrack and 2600 back in high school... but i never felt like i had the tech chops to do anything with it. I went into design and programming, but i stayed interested in security. I even went to DEFCON once. So now this an exciting opportunity for me to make a contribution to the industry and help educate the public on why they should care about information security too.


My personal website is currently out of commission. I haven't been taking design clients lately, as i have a dedicated project, so this is all i have for now...

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 freelancer.

How did you hear about this OpenIDEO Challenge?

  • Other

Location: City


Location: State / District


Location: Country

  • United States of America


Join the conversation:

Photo of jean godard

you have a very professional vision for this project, I am very curious to see more

Photo of Dima Boulad

Same jean godard !

Photo of Jen Zariat

thanks so much! i'd love to refine the idea to something smaller and simpler, but it's difficult with a complex concept. i appreciate the feedback. :)

Photo of jean godard

it's hard to influence an artist in his choices. often the first idea is the best, but I have already told another contest artist, do not use text in your mother tongue because the final creation must be understood throughout the world.

Photo of Jen Zariat

This is true, depending on the goal of the work. Some concepts would be almost impossible to convey without text, i think, while others may be more more suitable. This image is intended to be more of an infographic than an illustration... but since i submitted it and i've been paying more attention to what i see online, i almost wish i had focused more on the kind of illustration you describe. The images out there now are just so homogenous.

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