Each time you surf online, check your emails, ask your Alexa a question, pieces of data may be collected by big data analysis technologies to gain access to certain aspects of you private and professional life. Basic software installed on your devices does help quite a bit but let us see where designers could bring us with their cybersecurity ideas.

Erlend Prendergast, a graduate of Glasgow School of Art with specialization in Speculative/Futures Design has developed CounterBug, a bespoke modular robotic device that talks back to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa thus confusing its algorithms.

The designer reshaped Echo – the smart speakers that connect to the virtual assistant –making them more friendly and personable. Three different attachments of CounterBug target three specific tasks when fitted to the three-legged base unit.

CounterBug by Erlend Prendergast

Murmur does its best to confuse algorithms for tailored advertising by whispering contradictory phrases while the user speaks.

Blabber’s job is to help people who fear that someone might eavesdrop on their daily life: it seeks to create a perfect digital persona for the user. It switches on when the user leaves the house and autonomously talks to Alexa.

Scramble is alert for certain trigger words that are monitored by the NSA, the National Security Agency in America. Any mentioning of such a word and Scramble will do its best to shout over it.

Murmur by Erlend Prendergast

Talking further about private data leakage, the Amsterdam based Leanne Wijnsma Studio has a beautiful solution to offer. The Smell of Data is a grenade-shaped scent diffuser designed to alert internet users of data leaks from their smartphones, tablets and computers by releasing a metallic scent when a user encounters an unprotected website or Wi-Fi network on their devices.

The Smell of Data by Leanne Wijnsma Studio

The project’s main goal is to educate users about what is going on with their data. Working on the device, the designer thought of how, for example, the smell of gas triggers the sense of danger in people.

The alert mechanism is easy to use: connect the diffuser to digital devices via Wi-Fi, and it will release a puff of the Smell of Data as a warning signal when it recognizes an unprotected website on an unsecured Wi-Fi network or Hotspot.

The Smell of Data by Leanne Wijnsma Studio

Advanced cyber security aficionados will be happy to know that Lisa Kori Chung and Caitlin Morris designed anti-NIS (neuroimaging surveillance) head pieces to thwart mind-reading surveillance cameras.

The designers believe that the neuroimaging technology is currently being extensively researched and developed to read and record the thoughts of the public, in order to detect dangerous intentions before they are carried out.

Anti-NIS mask by Lisa Kori Chung and Caitlin Morris

To counter that, each of their faceted pieces is designed to detect when the wearer is being scanned. It does not aim at blocking access to the brain, it rather is a method of momentary cognitive diversion that provides a distraction to change the current thought pattern.

Anti-NIS hat by Lisa Kori Chung and Caitlin Morris

For example, the hat transmits sound pulses through the skull to the ear, the mask emits light flashes into the wearer’s eyes and the collar gives a gentle electric shock, thus forcing the train of thought change at the moment of scanning to: “what is that strange sound?” or “this light is too bright”.

Anti-NIS collar by Lisa Kori Chung and Caitlin Morris

Even though the neuroimaging technology is still rather a subject of science fiction, facial recognition, motion detection and voice analysis surveillance techniques are already in use. So now you can be geared-up in style.