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Mapping Wild Cards

Inspired by: FP7 » Cyber Crusade: Massive e-sabotage by "hacktivists"

version: 8 / updated: 2011-02-25
id: #1684 / version id: #1353
mode: VIEW

Originally submitted by: Rafael Popper
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Last changed by: Rafael Popper
WI-WE status:

Source of inspiration

European Commission Framework Programme for RTD (FP7)

Theme/activity of inspiration

Theme 8 - Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities

Sub-theme/area of inspiration

Societal trends and lifestyles

Optional reference/s to FP7 project/s

Use the following format: Project Acronym (Project Reference No.). Use commas if more than one project is associated to this Wild Card, for example: ALFA-BIRD (213266), SAFAR (213374), LAPCAT-II (211485)
YOUNEX (216122) http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=FP7_PROJ_EN&ACTION=D&DOC=1&CAT=PROJ&QUERY=0125170ad236:cb82:580fabd5&RCN=88906


(max. 9 words)

Cyber Crusade: Massive e-sabotage by "hacktivists"


(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Wild Card (approx. 150 words)
Growing social and economic pressures in Europe result in massive protests and e-sabotage by underemployed IT activists. A "Cyber Crusade" (or CyberJihad) emerges with the aim of reshaping major socio-economic policies, so as to reduce inequalities, increase employment, and promote civil liberties. This may especially feature policies connected with information technologies (IT) and their use (including offshoring, access to infrastructure, surveillance, etc.). As well as inconveniencing existing e-commerce and e-government sites, the media are used to expose injustice and corruption, promote the new movement, and succeed in winning over many uncommitted people.


youth, underemployment, movement, protest, pressure, cyber, IT


(max. 250 characters)

With the aim to achieve social/economic justice in Europe (instead of fraud or geopolitical rivalry), underemployed and politically driven “hacktivists” target EU agencies, governments and businesses, with cyberattacks and other electronic sabotage.


Closest timeframe for at least 50% likelihood
Please use one of the following options:

Features of life if the wild card manifests

Feature 1: business models and industrial environment
Implies that political activists and others can rapidly innovate around security precautions.
Feature 2: education and research environment
Likely to see efforts to clarify and improve ethical thinking around IT use. Research on system security liable to be expanded.
Feature 3: consumers, markets and lifestyles
Major disruption of electronic commerce. Ways of organising that combine online tools and offline methods where surveillance is to be avoided.
Feature 4: technology and infrastructure
Network security features upgraded; sensitive infrastructure and facilities like hospitals and airports require sophisticated safety precautions (possibly some hacktivists collaborate with this).
Feature 5: politics and global affairs
Cyberattacks across national borders are harder to pin down on established state agents and non-state actors: making some forms of state action easier, but possibly stoking up international tensions.
Feature 6: health and quality of life
As e-commerce and e-services go down, people who rely on electronic transactions and activities are more likely to feel a reduction in their quality of life.
Feature 7: security and defence
Security agencies heavily involved in precautions against cyberattacks – and in organising them in some instances (e.g. seeking to manipulate CyberCrusaders). Involvement of intelligence agencies and the like in policing domestic cybercrime and political activism: liable to result in high-profile civil liberty abuses.

Type of event

Human planned (e.g. terrorist attack or funded scientific breakthrough)

Type of emergence

please select (if any) describe related trend or situation
An extreme extension of a trend/development/situation
(e.g. Increased global warming leads to a total ban on fossil fuels)
Cyber attacks, such as distributed-denial-of-service (DDOS), have become more common in recent years.

Type of systems affected

Human-built Systems - E.g. organisations, processes, technologies, etc.




please specify:
please select
Level 3: important for the European Union
Level 4: important for the whole world

Early indicators

(including weak signals)

In December 2010 a group of "hacktivists" called Anonymous organised a number of systematic attacks that targeted "anti-Wikileaks" firms (including PayPal, Visa and MasterCard). This new kind of large-scale politically motivated attacks on Visa and MasterCard services required the involvement of some 2,000 and 400 "hacktivists", respectively. One significant enabler of these type of attacks has been that a growing number of people were able to voluntarily download the so-called “botnet tool", which functions an “army of machines” capable of launching multiple attacks. Overnight, several hundreds/thousands of people joined up this hacktivist movement in what has been described a "war of data".

Latent phase

Obstacles for early indentification

information/communicational filters (media/editorial interests, language, reasoning)
institutional filters (rules, laws, regulations)

Manifestation phase

Type of manifestation

In a probably pervasive way (contagious or transmittable)

Aftermath phase

Important implications
Emergence of a new system (e.g. new technologies, new paradigms)


Emergence of grassroots hacktivism in Europe.

Key drivers or triggers

Provide up to 2 possible drivers or triggers of HIGH importance. Click on HELP to see examples:
please describe
Driver / Trigger 1
please describe
Driver / Trigger 2
Social Rapid growth of unemployment figures in some European countries (e.g. Spain)
Technological/Scientific Growing use of technologies to replace human labour.
Economic Growing cost of life.

Potential impacts (risks & opportunities)

Timeframe options
Risks Opportunities
(within 1 year after the Wild Card manifests)
Major economic crisis and social unrest in Europe.

Potential stakeholders' actions

it occurs
it occurs
Policy actors (at the international, European and national levels) To find new ways to reduce unemployment.
Business actors (incl. SMEs) To explore new business models capable of creating new jobs.

Relevance for Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Behavioural change
Coexistence and conflicts
Governance and trust in democracy
Economic prosperity/dynamics
Innovation dynamics
Techno-security, hazard & risk

Relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
ICT - Information & communication technologies
Social Sciences and Humanities

Pan-European strategies potentially helping to deal with the wild card

please justify:
particularly relevant
Facilitating and promoting knowledge sharing and transfer

 Features of a research-friendly ecology contributing to deal with the wild card

For further information about 'research-friendly strategies' click here

please justify:
particularly relevant
Overcoming sub-criticality and systemic failures
To be subcritical means that the effort in a particular field or subfield lacks resources, equipment or a sufficient number of researchers to achieve a desired goal

Relevance for future R&D and STI policies

Note: RTD = research and technology development; STI = science, technology and innovation
This wild card, among other things, highlights the need to undertake further research on socially beneficial use of ICT, on system security, on cyberethics, etc.