Hacker stock art

All photos: Shutterstock and Reuters.

Problem: Until they're captured, alleged hackers don't make for stories with good art. But readers won't look at words unless they are immediately adjacent to pictures. Solution: stock art! I am delighted to report that there is an abundance of stock art geared toward illustrating news stories about cybercrime.


If you're in a hurry, the traditional standby for stories about hacking is a picture of hands typing on a keyboard. Since you won't have a relevant caption to go with it, stuff in some engaging statistics about the prevalence of hacking and software piracy.

The best way to protect a computer from network intrusion is to wrap it in chains and place a physical lock on it.

Particularly advanced computers are provided with a "security" key to offer immediate protection from hackers.

When cybercriminals break into and transfer money out of their victims' accounts, it immediately materializes on their computers in the form of fresh, unmarked bank notes and prepaid debit cards.

Adept cybercriminals can type with their shadows.

Stories speculating about the technical flaws that permit cybercrime may be illustrated by pictures of stethoscopes being used to inspect computer hardware. Some keyboards can accomodate money and a stethoscope.

Hackers can reach through the internet like it's some kind of fucking seance.


Many hacking stories can be illustrated by a photo of a website at an unusual angle. Suggest tragedy with error messages.

By making the angle more oblique and by tightening the depth of field, one can illustrate the mindboggling level of criminal genius at which all hackers operate. Photo: Reuters / Jim Bourg


Dwarfing passers-by, Sony Corporation's skyscraper is seen here from an intimidating perspective to reveal the victim's immense size and importance, thereby illustrating the newsworthiness of the hacker's criminal achievements. Photo: Toru Hanai / Reuters


Hackers type while wearing thick leather burglar gloves, to ensure that no fingerprints are left on their own computers.

This man is bathed in the glow of the monitor. Is he a hacker or a victim? Like cartoon dragons, the color of the glow is semiotically significant. White light, resulting in natural tones, is for victims and security experts.

Blue-bathed hackers are thieves. Green-tinted hackers are exploring The Matrix. Red glows are for evil hackers, especially cyber-bullies. The rarest and most prized breed of hacker is one whose compexion is so gaunt that his face provides specular reflections of whatever is on screen, like a mirror.

Hackers come in two basic varieties: Ninja and Hoodlum.

A business suit and balaclava are mandatory for the successful execution of corporate-level cybercrime.


State intelligence agents forcing their way into the Pentagon or Lockheed Martin are often to be found working in public cafes in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. They're easy to spot, however, because they use full-screen images of the PRC flag as screensavers. Reuters / Kin Cheung

If all else fails, just run a picture of some binary emanating from an eye or zoomy matrix text.


    1. Honest to God, we had a patient who gave himself a coffee enema, but forgot to cool it first. Cooked his own rectum.

        1. I just don’t understand why it took so long. I’ve been waiting for it for hours.

          1. Had my sainted mother been online, she’d have given that back to you posthaste.  One of the few gags she remembers!

      1. Bourdain had that once.  One of the only things he obviously didn’t like.  It was poorly cooked.  In the ashes of a fire.  Straight up rectum.

      2. Were you in gastroenterology?  I used to work in that department (as a researcher), and my PI had the most jaw-dropping/funny stories about what would pass through (no pun intended) on his shifts…

  1. 1) All news orgs should be required to use animated gifs. Cheezy animated gifs.

    2) Tell Cory, with the news of the Diabolo 3 real cash auction house, For the Win is coming true.

    1. This is way better that WoW.  FTW would be a very different novel if you could INDIVIDUALLY trade cash for grinding.

      Somebody print up some fliers on how to get by this way in some asian languages.  not that you won’t get killed for handing them out… 

      ok…make a website instead.  and change the domain according to a tight random number generator.  uniform on 1-17 days.  it’ll work.  i’ll give you a buck.  kickstart the project.  the kids are alright.  free ’em.

  2. The Insta-Money one made me lolololololol due to that being a near exact trope used in Exosyphen’s games.

    Thanks for the humor and stock arts.

    I presume these are OK for us to use with attribution or do we need to pay for the right to use?

    1. Gotcha! Wanted to make sure (and have this publicly visable so others don’t make the same assumption I might have.)

      I mean alot of these are fun, but is that from the photo, or caption?

  3. Holy Jesus, i damn near actually died laughing.

    That was asplosively funny, Rob. How you can manage to outdo yourself at every turn is utterly beyond my piddling human comprehension.

  4. This is an epic article. I had the same facial expression as the ninja the whole time I was perusing, except with tears.
    Bravo Rob, and all commentators!

  5. How does that remind me of computer usage on television and in movies, with CSI being a prime example?

  6. Love the spam comments! Can’t remember ever seeing any of those pre-Disqus, though maybe since it’s 4:30 in the morning it’s a bad time for the moderators.

  7. We used to get quite a lot of spam. It would arrive in sudden batches in the early morning U.S. time, which hasn’t changed. Disqus makes it easier to delete it quickly and ban the accounts. We haven’t turned on Akismet, though.


    An eyeball with a Facebook/Twitter/PayPal logo on it.

    Except, either the reflection is wrong, or they’re looking at a mirror-image on screen.

  9. Love the depth-of-field one with the highlighted red “malicious virus” alert and, right before that, the sure sign of death: a CR/LF! Aaah! Quick, somebody install Cygwin and run dos2unix before that double EOL cracks open the NSA!

Comments are closed.