Promoting Cyber Safety in the Community


A red octagon is a universal symbol that can trigger an automatic response: STOP.

At St. Ambrose University, students are working to create new symbols that could have a similar impact on behavior.

Sayonnha Mandal, PhD, assistant professor in Computer and Information Sciences, has challenged students to design symbols to warn people of common cybersecurity threats and trigger vigilance.

"This contest, Cyber Safety in the Community, focuses on creating visual reminders that are easy to understand and include in devices we use regularly, to act as constant reminders of the need and techniques for keeping yourself and your community safe from cyber harm," she said.

"How can one image trigger a thought of safety behind everything we do online?"

The contest is hosted by the Computer and Information Sciences (CIS) department.

Mandal said the dependence on technology continues to increase, and along with it, the need for safety while using devices in the network.

"Safety ranges from learning how to spot fraudsters on the Internet to protecting your personal information to ensure that your identity is not compromised."

Students started working individually and in teams earlier this month to identify security threats and create a symbol for each that can be easily understood by non-technical people.

"When you are driving and you see a red octagon, your brain is wired to know it's a stop sign. I am asking students to think about how an image, color, or combination of both can trigger recognition and awareness in an individual," Mandal said.

As part of the challenge, she asked students to create symbols that could be placed on things – such as a poster on a wall or a sticker on a computer – and posted within things, such as a website banner or desktop icon.

Student working on a laptop

Students submit their symbols April 5, and faculty from the CIS and Art department will judge the submissions. The campus community can see the logos from 3-5 p.m. on April 10 at the Rogalski Center. During that time, the contest winner will be announced.

Mandal plans to reproduce and post the winning symbol throughout campus.

"Our ultimate goal is to disseminate the logos throughout the community to see how they help to create and maintain awareness among non-technical individuals in the society," she said. "We want to help the community."

The contest is part of the SAU College of Arts and Sciences Academic Theme, Visual Narratives. In the 2019-20 academic year, the university community is exploring the many ways in which visual narratives engage with contemporary and historical realities. The theme draws upon multiple interdisciplinary modes of production and performance, including comics, film, theatre, printmaking, photography and dance. Visit for a complete list of the events.

“How can one image trigger a thought of safety behind everything we do online?”

Sayonnha Mandal, PhD, assistant professor in Computer and Information Sciences

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