Computer screens with skulls and locks, credit cards with fish hooks, hackers in hoodies – the imagery of cybersecurity likes to focus on cyber insecurity. As an organization, we are aware of the threats. But we also believe that we need to make people resilient, not afraid. A different imagery suits that.

The Imagery of Cybersecurity

Imagery is more than the formatting of a story, or the illustration of a message. Think of the phrase “a picture says more than a thousand words. Image is multidimensional, whereas language – especially in the form of text – is only linear and simple.

Imagery is all-important in determining how a subject – and therefore the world of cybersecurity – is seen, experienced and lived. Every form of communication has to do with imagery even before you get down to the actual content, because imagery precedes language. The impact of this is underestimated.

We think it’s time to do some research into this.

Cyberaanval met ransomware

Security & Insecurity

By definition, cybersecurity is about security. The security of information, of networks and systems, and below the line of people and their data. Yet modern imagery serves up negative visualizations, with a persistent emphasis on insecurity. The man with the hoodie (hacker), the credit card with the fishhook (phishing), or the police tape around a screen (ransomware). Images that place extra emphasis on insecurity through the use of dark tones, shadows and icons with a certain symbolism.

The imagery of cybersecurity has an enormous influence on the feeling, the perception and thus the behavior towards information security.


Security awareness and acting both preventively and proactively to cyber threats requires a culture change. A change that fails if the prevailing imagery reinforces an abstract, far away feeling.

In collaboration with creative makers in various disciplines, we want to develop a new perspective on the familiar themes from the world of cybersecurity. A focus on the positive, the human factor, the human role as strength and as bastion of resilience.

A new perspective

We think in terms of strong passwords, rather than the familiar post-it sticking on a keyboard with a weak password. We want to prevent phishing, not focus on magnifying fear images about the consequences. We want to expose and reveal hackers, not make them abstract and unrecognizable like the permanently shadowy figure behind his screen in a dark attic room.

In short, we want to challenge you to think about cyber security, not cyber insecurity. About open, positive representation, not vague, negative images that increase distance from the subject. We want to bring attention to the important issues of our digital world again – but in a completely different way.

Call for Creators

Meanwhile, the first creators have started working on a number of cybersecurity themes. We will present the final product of their research as an ongoing series. At the same time, we are also looking for new makers. We would like to talk to you about new additions to the known themes. And then give you all the creative freedom you need to develop a product, vision or image that is separate from how such a theme is presented in the current imagery.


We plan to use October – international online safety month – to launch our outline and perhaps share the first research with the public, the AWAREWAYS audience. From there, we will roll out the campaign further to present a new component at least monthly. We will present that final product through our various channels, but possibly in the near future the various works will also be physically displayed.

We’d love to hear from you!


Every day you process, analyze and duplicate information, but how do you do that in a safe and ethical way? AWAREWAYS trains employees of organizations to work information-aware (cybersecurity, privacy, compliance and integrity) in all their work – but also privately.

By deploying experts in the field of psychology, communication, gamification, didactics and design, we develop awareness programs for organizations such as Heineken, the Stimuleringsfonds, Ministry of Justice & Security, Tax and Customs Administration, Allianz, Schiphol Airport and Volksbank. Communication (storytelling), design and creativity play a crucial role in our approach.


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