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High-probability and wild-card scenarios for future crimes and terror attacks using the Internet of Things

Roey Tzezana (Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 13 March 2017




The purpose of this paper is to provide a framework to thinking and creating scenarios about future crimes and terror attacks relying on the Internet of Things (IoT), and to present a crowdsourcing research based on this thinking, which resulted in both high- and low-probability scenarios with dramatic impact.


The research relies on general morphological analysis for deconstructing wicked problems into core components, and on crowdsourcing 50 experts on Wikistrat’s commercial platform, allowing them to suggest core components, rank them by importance and develop scenarios together. This methodology allowed a wider view than usual, and allowed the experts to examine unorthodox combination of components, leading to the creation of wild-card scenarios.


Analysis of both the core components and the resulting scenarios indicates that the IoT is set to have a dramatic role in crime and terror attacks in the near future. High-impact high-probability scenarios include attacks on power plants, cyber wallets and personal assistants. High-impact low-probability scenarios include terrorist attacks by environmentalist groups, accidental attacks conducted by immature pranksters and having a computer worm propagating in a low-security but critical facility like a hospital.


This paper brings a standardized method which can be used to examine complex events like crime and terror attacks using a disruptive and emerging technology. The results can be used by practitioners to further study the issue and develop many other scenarios more tailored to their needs. The scenarios presented in this paper can also be of value to security bodies who wish to be better prepared for the future.



The author wishes to thank the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center at Tel Aviv University for their generous funding of the research, and to Wikistrat executives Dr. Shay Hershkovitz, Oren Kesler and Nick Ottens, who authorized the use of Wikistrat’s platform for the purposes of the research and helped design the research methodologies and manage the participants. Special thanks go to the participants in the research, who willingly contributed their knowledge and expertise. Finally, the author wishes to thank Gali Alon-Tzezana for her help with the mathematical models in this paper, and Tom Ritchey, who first introduced him to GMA and gifted him with his book “Wicked Problems, Social Messes” about the methodology.

Declaration of interest: The author is a senior analyst in the Wikistrat community.

Supplementary information: The full matrix containing all possible combinations of methods, motives and targets can be made available on request from the author.


Tzezana, R. (2017), "High-probability and wild-card scenarios for future crimes and terror attacks using the Internet of Things", Foresight, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 1-14.



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