How to Use These 5 Absurd Stock Images in Your Privacy Awareness Program

Data Privacy Day

Take a Walk on the Weird Side to Get People’s Attention

Stock photos: Unless you have a professional photographer at your disposal, we’ve all used them in our awareness programs.

For years, stock photo sites have promoted the faceless hoodie-wearing criminal as the number-one threat to perfectly-styled business people trying to keep their personal data secure.

Operating in total darkness, these stock photo cybercriminals resort to staring at screens of binary code and even magically reaching through computer monitors to steal sensitive information. Disembodied hands grasping blindly at semi-transparent icons or padlocks resting on keyboards seem to be the primary way of combatting this threat.

But no one lives in this world. Not you. Not your employees.

If data privacy training and awareness is your responsibility, relying too heavily on images like this can lead to instant eye-rolls. Sure, use the occasional “traditional” stock image, but variety is the spice of training!

You need something that grabs them. Something that will draw attention, even if the split-second reaction is “Wait, what?”

Here’s an idea: go absurd!

Embrace the Bizarre

In my years of marketing in the security industry, I’ve done countless searches on stock photo sites for “data privacy” or “data protection.” The results are usually predictable: well-dressed, attractive people doing various things behind computers. Snore.

But on occasion, something weird comes up. A contorted man sitting at a desk. A three-eyed cat staring into your soul.

And it’s the weirdest ones that stick with you.

My former colleague and I were so intrigued and entertained, we decided to keep a collection of absurd stock photos. We’d refer to them every so often for a laugh or a hit of inspiration.

At the very least, these stock photos caught our eye. Sometimes they made us outright gape in amusement or confusion.

The Science Behind the Weird

Turns out, there’s science behind why weird stuff sticks with us. A Psychology Today piece explains the results of a study that presented subjects with a simple story with a clear plot that then turns into complete gibberish.

After reading the story, the subjects were tasked with finding patterns in strings of numbers and letters. The researchers found that those who were exposed to the gibberish story did better at recognizing patterns than those that did not read the story.

In other words, the more subjects were exposed to something unexpected, the more open they were to learning something new.  Imagine the implications this has for your training and awareness program!

If you need further proof absurdity can go a long way, consider the over-the-top Old Spice commercials and campaigns of the last decade. What began with the absurdly muscular man “on a horse” continues to this day with normal people turning into superheroes thanks to only a swipe of their deodorant.

Introducing A Little Absurdity

To recognize Data Privacy Day 2020, we’ve taken five of the most absurd stock images we could find and turned them into easy-to-share graphics promoting practical steps employees can take to protect data.

Download them all in a zipped file for free to share with your employees or click on each individual image to access the PNG file to choose just the one you want.

We hope this small sample of stock photo absurdity inspires you to think beyond the standard in your privacy training and awareness efforts. No more hackers in hoodies!


Download Your Free Social Media Assets

Catch some eyes this Data Privacy Day with five graphics promoting important data privacy topics mixed with a hint of the absurd! (Assets will download as a single zipped file)

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Password Security

Don't use pet names for passwords. “Old three-eyes” definitely drew some eyes (pun intended) around the office. We were particularly enamored creeped out by the attention to detail committed to Photoshopping in the third eye and downright confused at the potential use case for such a photo. What better way to remind employees that pet names make easily-guessed passwords?

Unpatched Computers

Don't let an unpatched computer burn you.

Haven’t we all wanted to set our laptops ablaze at some point in our working lives? This eye-catching photo makes literal the dire consequences an unpatched machine could have for your employees, your network, and the private data your organization has been tasked with safeguarding.

Secured Connections

Stay away from unsecured connections.

Nothing like a little child endangerment to get someone’s attention. We were honestly a little hesitant to go with this photo, but we figured the sheer shock factor alone made it worth the risk. Signing onto open Wi-Fi without a VPN is like a baby chewing on a cord; it probably won’t end well.

Note: no actual babies were harmed in the shooting of this photo.  Also, don’t try this at home.

Thwart Identity Thieves

Make it tough for identity thieves. This image is way spookier than any “hacker-in-a-hoodie” stock photo I’ve seen. There’s something about the slight come-hither look in the model’s eyes that makes this one particularly creepy; and subsequently noteworthy. In the same vein, there are few things creepier than the idea of having your identity stolen.

Data Privacy Peace of Mind

Don't let data privacy requirements bend you out of shape. The title on Getty Images (where we acquired all these photos with our subscription) is simply “Flexible man practicing yoga at workplace,” but it’s so much more than that. Why is he dressed all in denim? What exactly is he sitting on? Why does he look so bored? We hope this simple message atop a weird photo helps bring your employees a yoga-like peace of mind.


More Ways to Get Your Employees Thinking About Data Privacy

Check out our free toolkit filled with resources to promote data privacy best practices in your organization!

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