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May 26, 2023 - 7 minutes

The Role of Cybersecurity in UX/UI Design

How are cybersecurity and UX/UI design related?

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When you think of cybersecurity, ideas such as hackers, cyberattacks, and protection may come to mind and although we don’t directly interact with most aspects of cybersecurity, it plays an integral role in all things internet. Without cybersecurity, we wouldn’t be able to safely browse the web. 

On the other hand, when you visit any website or app, you are directly interacting with the creation of a UX/UI designer, also known as the user experience, providing a different type of framework for browsing. UX/UI design is just as essential to the internet as cybersecurity, but what are they? What do they do? And how exactly do they intersect? Let’s dive in. 

What is Cybersecurity?

As mentioned above, cybersecurity revolves around protecting users as they interact with websites and apps and share their sensitive information. Although most cyber protections might seem highly developed, we frequently interact with cybersecurity tools and safety measures on a daily basis, typically when we are authenticating our identities or ensuring that we aren’t bots or potentially threatening malware. 

In many other ways, users can’t see all the work that cybersecurity professionals put into their jobs; however, the following are responsibilities that fall into the laps of cybersecurity professionals:

Threat prevention

The first line of defense in the world of cybersecurity is a plan of prevention and protection. Have you ever seen the movie Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark? In the first scene, Indy tries to get to the treasure at the heart of the temple. If the treasure is the database and sensitive information, the cybersecurity in question would be any booby traps that defend the treasure and terminate anyone attempting to reach the valuables. Some examples of threat prevention include:

  • Firewalls

  • Intrusion prevention systems

  • Encryption techniques

  • Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV)

  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

Threat detection

Prevention is a waiting game and as hackers get more and more cunning and innovative, they also become more successful at breaking through the cracks. What does that mean for cybersecurity professionals? If malware or a hacker does surpass all the threats, threat detection methods are in place to perceive their presence; with this information, they can eradicate whatever dangerous threats are lurking around. Threat detection software includes the following:

  • User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA)

  • Insider Threat Management (ITM)

  • Host-based Intrusion Detection System (HIDS)

  • Network-based Intrusion Detection System (NIDS)

Incident response plan

When met with an unfortunate surprise, you may become nervous, freeze, or even want to run away and that’s why you have to depend on a prearranged plan to ensure you take the correct first steps; for cybersecurity professionals, an incident response plan is essential when there’s an information breach. 

Although no one likes to talk about the uncomfortable truth, information breaches do happen and cybersecurity professionals need to have a plan in place to minimize the potential damage. A successful incident response plan consists of:

  • Preparation

  • Identification

  • Eradication

  • Restoration

  • Learning

  • Testing

Following this process will guarantee that the incident response plan is effective and efficient when it’s needed. 

Types of cybersecurity

The internet is a limitless place and in the past twenty years, technology has expanded alongside it exponentially; as a result, the need for different types of cybersecurity to protect cyber attacks has also surged. Some of these include:

  • Network security

  • Cloud security

  • Information security

  • IoT security

  • Application security

What is UX/UI Design?

It’s likely that you’ve heard of this type of design, but you may not know that they are two separate disciplines that take on very different, yet essential approaches to design. The two coordinate to create the best experience for users when viewing and interacting with the interface. But how do they differ and complement one another?

User eXperience design

When thinking of design, many think of typography, color palettes, spacing and layout; however for this discipline, these elements are of less importance. UX design focuses on collecting data from users and leveraging it to create and rework the structure and framework of the app so that users are satisfied; the spotlight is always on user experience

By analyzing the data gathered from users interacting with the product, UX designers can make tweaks that enhance it and, as a result, build an easy-to-use and intuitive interface that serves its function. You can almost think of them as the architects that draw up blueprints for buildings.

User interface design

UI design is what most consider design to be: 

  • Buttons

  • Color schemes

  • Fonts

  • Layout

  • Shapes

  • Spacing

  • Everything else that users see when they are interacting with the app or website

UI designers work alongside UX designers since UX designers not only collect data on the product that indicate where they can modify and enhance design elements, but also build the framework within which they need to design. UI design is all about making website elements that catch the eye, attract the user, and keep their attention. 

The Difference Between Cybersecurity and UX/UI Design

As mentioned above, cybersecurity professionals are tasked with protecting, detecting, and eradicating cyberthreats that put users at risk. And on the other hand, UX/UI designers coordinate to build and create the best possible experience and interface for users. Cybersecurity professionals work behind the scenes on their products while UX/UI designers create everything with which the user interacts. Nevertheless, both teams of people must work together to guarantee that user experiences are intuitive, efficient, and safe.

How do Cybersecurity Professionals and UX/UI Designers Work Together?

When designing a product, UX/UI designers know that protecting users from any type of cyberattack is of the utmost importance and consequently coordinate with cybersecurity professionals during the different stages of the project to ensure that the user is protected. 

Product safety requirements

From the offset of a project, data protection is an important matter and by keeping this in the forefront, cybersecurity professionals and UX/UI designers ensure that their users can trust their products for the long term. Collaboration between the two disciplines includes communication on the following aspects:

  • Potential security risks

  • Cyber threats that may impede design elements

  • Definition of security requirements

Secure system design

Have you ever had to choose which pictures contained a car on a website after inputting your username and password? The purpose is to confirm that you are a human that is inputting the details and it is one of many tools that is employed by cybersecurity and UX/UI design teams to authenticate user identities. 

Confirming and authenticating users protects their data at the front door of the website and UX designers must incorporate these into the design interface throughout the final product. Authentication tools include the following:

  • Username and password

  • Two-factor authentication

  • Biometric authentication

  • Email or SMS verification

  • Security questions

  • Captcha

  • Social media login

  • Device-based authentication

  • Client certificates

Everyone has encountered most of these authentication methods and cybersecurity professionals and UX/UI designers collaborate to decide which ones are the most appropriate for the product. 

Trade-offs between usability and security

Usability is at the top of the list for UX/UI designers; however, how can we balance usability with security? Although maintaining balance between both of these can be difficult, it is essential for both of them to compromise when designing their product. This part of the creation process can be difficult, since coming to an agreement on where design needs to be prioritized over security or vice-versa requires a lot of communication and understanding. Despite its complexity, the final product will benefit greatly from striking that perfect balance of the two parts.

Testing, monitoring, and updating

Throughout the design process, consistent testing by both UX/UI design and cybersecurity teams and users is vital to create the final product to test for any security vulnerabilities that may pop up. When users give feedback on their experiences, there are even more ways to improve upon different aspects of the product. UX designers have the important job of pulling in massive amounts of user data and cybersecurity professionals can use their feedback for their own security purposes.

Once the product is released, cybersecurity professionals have the important job of monitoring the status and handling any breach as soon as possible with their incident response plan. Even with the most airtight defenses, websites and apps can suffer from cyber attacks; the consistent monitoring of a product’s security and status is important and when new security vulnerabilities and risks are found, cybersecurity professionals have the responsibility of updating the system to keep users safe. 


Cybersecurity and UX/UI design are two very different disciplines; however, they must collaborate to make the internet safe and user-friendly for everyone. Finding the balance between usability and security is crucial for not only the final product, but also the users.

If either cybersecurity or UX/UI design have caught your eye, take a look at Ironhack’s bootcamps and learn remotely or in-person at one of our worldwide campuses.  

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