It’s not what you have to say.

It’s how you go about saying it.

NERD

As many of you are probably aware, I’m very passionate about all things Cybersecurity-related. In fact, I’d be almost willing to say I’m somewhat of a nerd.

This is especially true when discussing authentication (specifically the handling of credentials and the method used to encrypt or protect a password). I’ve spent shocking amounts of time building machines simply for the sake of breaking into them. I’ve wasted countless hours trying to solve “crack me” style challenges and puzzles, or dreaming up ways to circumvent other authentication schemes I happened to come across. If my wife and children leave me alone for too long, there is a small chance I’ll build a puzzle out of the most recent one I’ve encountered or imagined. (There is a higher chance that I’ll watch cartoons and drink too much coffee, but that’s a whole other conversation.)

This obsession only got worse when it became my actual job to ensure the security of networks. Suddenly it was about communicating its importance to others, rather than just becoming a really good hacker in my own little corner.
I’ve been in many roles where managing users was one of my duties, and a major frustration I’ve had is explaining the need for secure passwords. After years of this, I’ve wound up with my own personal cybersecurity soapbox…Password Entropy. Password entropy is the term we use when we are wanting to refer to the measure of predictability of our password…

Stop it! I can see your eyes starting to glaze over already. I have a message, and I want to share.

NERD WITH A MISSION

In fact; I already have.

A lot!

I’ve shared hereherehereherehere, and here, to list a few…there are more. All of these articles, white papers and presentations are having an effect! I’ve had several interactions with folks, many of them mentioning how they appreciate my focus on the topic. Lots of them tell me they are changing their passwords for the better. Awesome!

It sure is slow going though. Sometimes, I feel like I put people to sleep before they realise I was speaking. What’s worse… I think some of them might have heard me say it before. Sigh.

It certainly has started to feel like I’m simply repeating myself over and over again. And that’s when I had a thought: “there has got to be a better way to get my message across without costing my audience so much effort.”

NERD NEEDS A NEW MEDIUM

If I only I could somehow distill my message down. Could I turn it into something fun that my audience would enjoy hearing… or perhaps… watching?

As I mentioned above, I dig cartoons. You can do anything you want in a cartoon. I decided to try and write one. It would be short, 5 minutes or less, and would essentially be me saying what I have always been saying. But I’d be animated. (Which was enough reason for me to want to try it anyway.)

While I’ve played around in 3ds Max and other animation suites, it has never really been my gig, so I hunted down a really sharp multimedia guy. Writing the script wasn’t as difficult as I’d thought it’d be. I’ve talked about entropy a lot.

Recording the script, however, was an entirely different story altogether. I never realized how colorful I am when I’m frustrated. After a while, I did finally manage to get a cut I was OK with, so I handed it off to my freelancer and prepared to experience the magic.

I didn’t drive him completely bonkers with edits… but I got pretty close.

When all was said and done, I posted the resulting video to my social networks, and then I just waited.

KA-POW!

On LinkedIn, with my follower count, one of my typical articles usually attracts a few hundred views. My first cartoon? It received thousands. What a difference! Just by changing my format, I received more than ten times the number of viewers. While this version of my rant had more flair (and a black hat with a hammer), I used the same language and examples from my past presentations and white papers. Yet, here I was receiving multiple email questions and comments related to the new animation. I was pretty floored.

Then there was this comment, originating from my Facebook, that so elegantly proves my point:

I’ve since started producing more videos, and enjoy putting them together. I’ve released a second one already, and have a third coming out here within the week. In case you are interested, here is the first video, Password Entropy Explained. Feel free to let me know what you think!

KA-BLAM!

What message has your association been trying to get across? Are you looking to attract a wider viewership? Try animating the message. It can help your audience consume your content and has the potential for a much larger impact!

Since 1994, Joshua Hiller has been a professional software developer and security analyst, working as a private contractor, team member, and team leader. Specializing in automation, integration, penetration auditing and forensics, Josh has over 15 years experience working in the non-profit industry in roles such as application developer, department director, and vice president.

A married father of three girls, Josh’s interests include; art, comic books, fantasy, science (and science fiction), application and network security, software development and tropical fish. His favorite type of cichlid is Astronotus ocellatus (Oscar), followed closely by Andinoacara rivulatus (Green Terror). If left alone for long periods of time around new software or technology, Josh is highly likely to take it apart to try and figure out how it works. At random, infrequent intervals, Josh likes to create games out of interesting puzzles he’s encountered.

Since 1994, Joshua Hiller has been a professional software developer and security analyst, working as a private contractor, team member, and team leader. Specializing in automation, integration, penetration auditing and forensics, Josh has over 15 years experience working in the non-profit industry in roles such as application developer, department director, and vice president. A married father of three girls, Josh’s interests include; art, comic books, fantasy, science (and science fiction), application and network security, software development and tropical fish. His favorite type of cichlid is Astronotus ocellatus (Oscar), followed closely by Andinoacara rivulatus (Green Terror). If left alone for long periods of time around new software or technology, Josh is highly likely to take it apart to try and figure out how it works. At random, infrequent intervals, Josh likes to create games out of interesting puzzles he’s encountered.

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