Cybersecurity Futures 2020

Center for Long-term Cybersecurity

University of California Berkeley

CLTC Scenarios

How might individuals function in a world where literally everything they do online will likely be hacked or stolen? How could the proliferation of networked appliances, vehicles, and devices transform what it means to have a “secure” society? What would be the consequences of almost unimaginably powerful algorithms that predict individual human behavior at the most granular scale?

These are among the questions considered through a set of five scenarios developed by the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity (CLTC), a new research and collaboration center founded at UC Berkeley’s School of Information with support from the Hewlett Foundation.

These scenarios are not predictions—it’s impossible to make precise predictions about such a complex set of issues. Rather, the scenarios paint a landscape of future possibilities, exploring how emerging and unknown forces could intersect to reshape the relationship between humans and technology—and what it means to be “secure.”

The scenarios will inform CLTC’s research agenda and serve as a starting point for conversation among academic researchers, industry practitioners, and government policymakers. They provide a framework for questions we should be asking today to ensure a more secure information technology environment in the future.

You can download the full text PDF of the scenarios here and the introduction and executive summary here. We welcome your feedback and questions via email at

The Scenarios

The five scenarios developed from this exercise are as follows:

Scenario one

The New Normal

Following years of mounting data breaches, internet users in 2020 now assume that their data will be stolen and their personal information broadcast. Law enforcement struggles to keep pace as larger-scale attacks continue, and small-scale cyberattacks become entirely commonplace—and more personal. . . .

Scenario TWO


Data scientists of 2020 have developed profoundly powerful models capable of predicting—and manipulating—the behavior of single individuals with a high degree of accuracy. For those responsible for cybersecurity, the stakes have never been higher. . . .

Scenario THREE

Bubble 2.0

Two decades after the first dot-com bubble burst, the advertising-driven business model for major internet companies falls apart. As overvalued web companies large and small collapse, criminals and companies alike race to gain ownership of underpriced but potentially valuable data assets. . . .

In 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a profound social force that proves powerful in addressing problems in education, the environment, health, work productivity, and personal well-being. Because the IoT is everywhere, cybersecurity becomes just “security” and essential to daily life. . . .

In 2020 wearable devices won’t care about how many steps you take; they will care about your real-time emotional state. Whether for blackmail, “revenge porn,” or other motives, cybercriminals and hostile governments find new ways to exploit data about emotion. . . .

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Cybersecurity Futures 2020 by Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, University of California, Berkeley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License