Cybersecurity—and the lack thereof—is a constant topic in our digital age. But the way it’s represented in the media, particularly with the use of outdated stock photos and graphics, tends to be needlessly complex, and sometimes even comical.

Last year, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and OpenIDEO launched an international competition to address this lack of clear, compelling images to accompany journalism on these topics. Their Cybersecurity Visuals Challenge tasked participants with designing a new library of hoodie-free “hacker” images that can be freely used by news organizations and the like.

Yesterday, the top five winners of the global contest have been announced, representing artists and designers from India to Mexico, Australia, and the U.S.

Mariah Jochai [Image: courtesy Hewlett Foundation]

“The challenges we face today online keeping networks and devices secure are far too complex to be illustrated by a shadowy figure in a hoodie hunched over a laptop,” Eli Sugarman, program officer at the Hewlett Foundation in charge of the Cyber Initiative, said in a statement. “Sophisticated organizations are attacking the security of the internet, and we believe the images produced by the participating artists will help increase understanding of these issues for policymakers and the broader public alike.”

Abraham Joel Pena Puleo [Image: courtesy Hewlett Foundation]

Abraham Peña’s design targets phishing; in his graphic, he cleverly plays on the homonym by depitcing hackers as sharks circling an unassuming user.

Meanwhile, Afsal CMK illustrated encryption with accessible, brightly colored sketches. Claudio Rousselon’s detailed pen-and-ink drawings make cyber alliances look like the beautiful mess they are. Information warfare is represented by Ivana Troselj as a bird “mistakenly rearing a grenade in a nest of its own eggs,” and Mariah Jochai’s text-based graphic shows how hacking threats can hide in plain sight.

These creative, relatable images work to simplify the pitfalls of our tech-reliant world for the public. Since digital privacy is a necessarily complex facet of culture, it’s vital that a broad audience can grasp how high the stakes of creating a secure digital landscape is. Right now, publications and platforms rely on archaic—and inaccurate—stock images that depict hackers as goofy pranksters to illustrate security concerns that plague both major organizations and private citizens alike. The contest’s openly licensed designs, which are as varied as the individuals who imagined them, stand to help.

“We were thrilled by the passionate community of cybersecurity professionals and visual creators that joined this global call, committing their time and skills to this important work, together,” Jason Rissman, managing director at OpenIDEO, said in a statement.

Beyond the fame and glory of creating free stock images, the winners each received a $7,000 prize. (All 23 semifinalists received $500.) As we previously reported, the five finalists’ artwork will be available in the public domain, able to be shared and repurposed under an open Creative Commons license.


Before I get to the subject matter at hand, allow me to conduct a brief sociological survey: How many times during the summer have you heard the following (or something to this effect)?: “I can’t believe how fast summer is going by this year.”

Never ceases to amaze me how many times we all say or at the very least think this as if one summer will somehow magically go slower than its predecessors.

Ok, enough of that.

As summer winds down it of course means back-to-school time, and in some parts of the country, school has already begun. Recently Cardlytics released their annual back-to-school research in which they identified five key trends for advertisers to consider based on 2018 results.

1. Back-toschool equates to more at holiday time

Amazon Prime Day, which as you know, was in fact TWO days this year. However even though we’re in the home stretch of back-to-school shopping, we also know we humans are procrastinators which means there is still time to move some pens and pencils. Yes, I know ‘who uses these anymore?’ But you get the idea.

4. One stop shopping is king

bother?!” Back to school is no different than any other season or any other day, brands competing with the multiliners need to work that much harder to get their piece of the pie. Simplistic? Sure it is. But it’s also the truth.

5. Online plus in-store shoppers rock

want, when they want it and where they want it. Simple.

In closing

I spoke with Cardlytics CMO Dani Cushion about all this good stuff. Here are the highlights and her recommendations for brands.

  • “In addition to starting marketing campaigns earlier to drive and capture earlier back-to-school spending, the brands who have gotten this really right have focused on what every good marketer worth their salt knows – it’s all about the consumer.”
  • “Specifically, it’s all about making your shopping experience convenient for consumers wherever they want to shop. Those who are winning back-to-school are those who understand how important it is to drive cross-channel shopping behavior.”
  • “It’s also imperative to make the shopping experience convenient for consumers. Consumers are busy enough without having to jump through hoops to shop and save.”

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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