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10/10/2019
02:45 PM
Terry Sweeney
Terry Sweeney
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Works of Art: Cybersecurity Inspires 6 Winning Ideas

The Center for Long Term Cybersecurity recently awarded grants to six artists in a contest to come up with ideas for works with security themes and elements. Check 'em out.

Image: kirasolly, via Adobe Stock)
Image: kirasolly, via Adobe Stock)

Powerful art can cause upset as easily as it can soothe. At its most effective and high functioning, art fosters conversation and changes the ways we think about challenging topics — like cybersecurity.

That, in a nutshell, is the driving force behind a series of grants the Center for Long Term Cybersecurity (CLTC) recently awarded to six artists in a contest to come up with ideas for works with security themes and elements.

"Cybersecurity works like an emergency room, where you fix it up and send it back out," observes Ann Cleaveland, executive director of CLTC, part of UC Berkeley. "We want the world to take a longer-term view." The winning artists' proposals are intended to invite viewers into that perspective, she adds.

Projects were considered for their potential to illuminate the human impacts of security and provoke critical dialogue about important issues, such as privacy, surveillance, cyberattacks, and malware, according to the center. Winning artists will receive anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000, and CLTC will help the artists show and publicize their works, which will debut sometime in 2020.

The Cybersecurity Arts Contest was launched as part of the Daylight Security Research Lab, a new initiative and offshoot of CLTC that aims to shift how people identify and understand technology's potential ills. "The imagery we have — the hacker and the hoodie, or green screens of code streaming by — doesn't really resonate with security professionals," says Nick Merrill, director of the lab.

And outside the world of security, the images don't foster understanding or insight. "Our biggest hope is that the artists will create works that change the way people think about security — and how decision-makers approach it," Merrill adds.

Contest entries showed tremendous creativity and will challenge norms and assumptions about security, Merrill adds. "It's an experiment … no one's done anything like this, so we don't know what will come of it," he says.

Browse on for the six winning projects — and make sure to add your own artsy reactions and high-falutin' interpretations in our "Comments" section, below. We may just award you your own grant.

Terry Sweeney is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered technology, networking, and security for more than 20 years. He was part of the team that started Dark Reading and has been a contributor to The Washington Post, Crain's New York Business, Red Herring, ... View Full Bio

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