The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation today announced five top ideas in the international “Cybersecurity Visuals Challenge,” which is focused on producing easily-understandable visuals to better illustrate the complexity and importance of today’s cybersecurity challenges to broad audiences. 

Five winning designers produced a portfolio of openly-licensed designs aimed at explaining the stakes involved in cybersecurity topics like encryption or phishing in more human, relatable terms. 

The winners of the Cybersecurity Visuals Challenge are:

“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,” said Eli Sugarman, program officer at the Hewlett Foundation in charge of the Cyber Initiative, a ten-year grantmaking effort devoted to improving cyber policy. “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.”

Faced with the challenge of illustrating complex cybersecurity stories, news organizations, nonprofits and others often rely on a small collection of images from stock photo libraries. Often these images are too simplistic to capture the nuances of the digital privacy and security issues that governments, private organizations and individuals face on a daily basis. 

In 2018, the Hewlett Foundation teamed with OpenIDEO, the open innovation practice of global design firm IDEO, to focus on the issue of how to reimagine visuals for cybersecurity in an effort to replace these stock images with something more meaningful and accessible. In July, the organizations launched the “Cybersecurity Visuals Challenge” to create a new library of hoodie-free cyber images that can be freely used by news organizations and others. 

“It’s difficult to design solutions to so many of today’s pressing challenges because people around the world are working to solve problems in isolation, rather than together, as part of a system,” said Jason Rissman, Managing Director at OpenIDEO. “Open innovation encourages the transparency and collaboration that we believe is necessary to accelerate change. 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.”

The winning artists created openly licensed work exploring cybersecurity challenges such as phishing, encryption, the importance of multi-party cyber alliances and digital privacy. Each of the 23 semi-finalists received $500 and the five winners each received a $7,000 prize. The Challenge benefited greatly from the contributions of experts from the field of design and cybersecurity, who supported the research phase, mentored Challenge participants, and served on outside panels that selected the winning artists.

All of the final artwork produced by the semi-finalists and finalists is free to be shared or repurposed under a Creative Commons license. The winning imagery can be found at This challenge would not have been possible without the support, commitment, and time from our many dedicated partners.


About the Hewlett Foundation

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions to promote a better world. For more than 50 years, we have supported efforts to advance education for all, preserve the environment, improve lives and livelihoods in developing countries, promote the health and economic well-being of women, support vibrant performing arts, strengthen Bay Area communities and make the philanthropy sector more effective.

Media Contacts:

Heath Wickline
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Amy Schatz
The Glen Echo Group