Imagine that Silicon Valley’s nightmare comes true: The bubble bursts. Unicorns fall to their knees. The tech giants that once fought to attract talented developers with mini-golf and craft beer scramble to put out fires.
This is the setting of a cyber-doomsday scenario developed by researchers at Berkeley’s Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity and published last month. They gamed out five different scenarios based on current trends in online security—and this one is by far the most alarming.
If stock prices plunge, the researchers ask, what will be left of the Facebooks and Twitters of the world? Like a broken-down car that can only be scrapped for parts, the only thing worth salvaging from the shells of former tech companies may be user data.