Design competition to create graphics to illustrate cybersecurity stories

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Looking thru the site I quickly got a bad case of TL;DR after they didn’t get to the point of what they’re really looking for.

I say they should use Cory’s graphic. It conveys “cybercrime” pretty starkly at a gut-level. There’s a reason 1s and 0s and men in hoodies have been used in the past, it screams “computer crime” to people who will never understand what computer crime really consists of. Cybercrime is going to evolve into something completely different every 2 or 3 years and the new graphics will be outdated but 1s and 0s will still == computers.

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I submitted mine specifically inspired by the “Google is watching you watch porn” story and so far all they’ve sent me is an Order or Protection. Fingers crossed!


1 Pay artists.
2 Pay artists.
3 Don’t put cookies on my computer to track me when I’m visiting your site.


Contests for design are a terrible idea, especially with the rules of this one (which are also so full of lawyering as to be a real pain to read).

See my comment on Schneier’s post (as Nancy Wirsig McClure.

Among other points, I reminded him that he didn’t use a contest to get a logo for his (past) company, Counterpane Systems. Rather, he paid a pro (me) for the design.



The design should include logos from companies like Equifax, and all the other miscreants who failed to secure their customers’ data.


There’s certainly a need for a new visual idiom here.

I can’t remember now if it was the wondrous, seminal Need To Know or the very different but also sublime, but one of my fave web places used to regularly showcase and celebrate the most ridiculous and cliched examples of the “hooded figure crouched over keyboard while neon dollar signs stream into a clip-art bank” genre. It’s a dangerous series of tubes out there!


A guy in a hoodie and sweats, but he’s decked out like a NASCAR driver in all the logos of the companies that have been hacked.

Cory’s graphic was intentionally everything wrong with the current imagery. The majority of the stock imagery you can find for cyber crime is designed to inspire fear, not inform viewers. It’s based on misconceptions from the 80s carried forward to today.

Cyber crime is mostly not being caused by lone white guys in hoodies. This notion has never fit reality very well. A large portion of what falls into cyber crime is caused by people sitting in cubicals that look like any other call center.

While 1’s and 0’s may be telling for computer professionals it does noting to convey any meaning to a lay person, the group that most needs help understand a field that was once obscure and unimportant but is now a daily threat to them.

The details of how cyber crime is done does change a bit, but less than most people think, social engineering is still a far larger portion than technical attacks, and that is still the opposite of what most people think is the case. The things that have changed are what people are attacking. They might have once social engineered a user into giving up their own password, now they social engineer the phone company to take over a phone number so they can intercept SMS MFA codes. The attack hasn’t changed, just who should be concerned and educated.

uh, yeah i got all that.

I just still think it’s better than anything they’re going to come up with an ill-explained, “prize”-driven “contest” instead of just paying professionals.

Maybe they’ll prove me wrong but I doubt it. Guy in hoodie with 1s and 0s still speaks cyber crime, and there’s no reason a graphic has to be an “accurate” representation of anything. I really don’t think anyone truly believes someone is sitting in a hoodie hacking, and if they do, so what? And no other type of crime has an “accurate” graphic associated with it anyway.

Pay artists for their work. Otherwise throw in the towel and use Cory’s graphic and we’re no worse off.

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