Imagine you’re in your living room, and you place a simple pair of contact lenses. Slowly, lights and colors fill your eyes as a digital world takes shape around you. You move your arms and legs in tandem with your online avatar as tiny sensors around the room pick up your movements. Now you are ready to jump into a virtual environment for interactive business meetings, engaging educational courses, or a holiday in a fantasy world; this is the dream of the Metaverse.
Unfortunately, with every new frontier in technology comes a concern for the safety and security of data. So, in this article, we are going to explore “what will cybersecurity look like in the Metaverse?”,
What Makes Metaverse So Important?
Just as each iteration of the internet has brought massive changes to our society, the Metaverse will affect us in a multitude of ways: Business, education, and social media, all of these spaces could shift dramatically in this new technological age.
- Changes to Business: As more companies make the shift to remote work, those who haven’t made their minds up may find that virtual office spaces function as a perfect middle ground. You get the interactivity and efficiency of an office without the arduous commute that may fuel many employees to consider offers from remote work companies.
- A Shift in Education: The pandemic was incredibly hard on educators and students alike. While some thrived without in-person classes, many found that online forums and zoom simply did not appropriately fill that space. With the Metaverse, students can get real-time feedback and solve problems visually. Not only that, but teachers can design a curriculum with much higher levels of engagement. Imagine a history lesson where you can take students to meet Caesar or visit the Colosseum in 4 dimensions instead of just talking about Rome.
- Revolutionizing Social Media: Our current version of social media offers some level of socialization, but its experience cannot be compared to interacting with someone in real life. The Metaverse will bridge that gap by allowing users to move and gesture in real-time, speaking and sharing media with avatars from around the globe.
Metaverse From a Cybersecurity Perspective
While it’s good to feel hopeful about this new digital world, it’s also important to think about the safety of its inhabitants. The internet is fraught with fraud, with the cybersecurity industry currently valued at $132.94 billion and growing every year. Experts have identified several major cybersecurity concerns within the Metaverse that need to be addressed before mass adoption occurs.
The three primary concerns are:
- The nature of an NFT economy.
- The increasing of blockchain scams.
- The security of user data.
Cybersecurity Concerns with Metaverse
1. NFT Economy
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, will be a central component of the Metaverse economy. Users are already using NFTs to purchase property in virtual LAND, which is present in a digital real estate program called “The Sandbox.” As the Metaverse economy progresses, NFTs will become the primary building blog. It brings up the issue of NFT fraud, a problem that is already picking up speed.
There are several NFT fraud scams currently floating around, including:
- The Rug Pull: One scam we’ve seen a rise with the popularity of NFTs is the “Rug Pull.” It involves a concerted effort from influencers and NFT developers to hype up the NFT price, causing investor money to pour in. Once the token has reached a high enough value, these initial backers pull their money out simultaneously, crashing the NFT’s value. This leaves the average investor with a useless token, costing them hundreds or thousands of dollars in losses.
- NFT Phishing: Using fake advertisements, aggressive pop-ups, and false websites, scammers can phish the passwords of users’ wallets. Once they have your credentials, they can log into your accounts, transferring your crypto and NFTs into their wallets.
- Counterfeit NFTs: Art theft isn’t a new phenomenon, but it may have significant consequences within the Metaverse. If a user purchases a counterfeit NFT, they’ll lose all their money once it’s identified as a fake. Those who dump significant amounts of money into a counterfeit token collection may suddenly find it has little or no, value at all.
2. Blockchain Scams
The current lack of regulation in the blockchain is one aspect that attracts some and repels others. Between 2020 and 2021, Crypto users have lost millions of dollars due to blockchain scams, and critics worry the Metaverse will only exacerbate this issue. With the Metaverse being an entirely online experience, user currency and data would likely be stored on a blockchain network. Developers are trying to find and fill every possible security issue, but it’s possible that the alpha stages of the Metaverse will be filled with scams.
3. Data Security
Meta(Facebook) has already stated that a significant amount of personal data will be required to enter the Metaverse; in addition to the traditional username and password, you’ll likely need to enter your full legal name, credit card, and possibly bank account information. This, along with the large amount of biometric data transmitted by eye, hand, and body movements means the Metaverse could be a data security nightmare. While services like identity monitoring can help quell some safety concerns, more user data protections will need to be established before the Metaverse becomes fully established.
How Do We Keep Cyberattacks Out of the Metaverse?
At this point, much of the responsibility lies with the Metaverse developers. Any digital citizen should stay vigilant regarding their online presence and data. Still, the average consumer will need time to adjust to this new medium for online interaction. Developers need to establish laws and protocols to take unknown risks into account by creating systems that identify threats and swiftly eliminate or control their sources.
The Metaverse could bring a dramatic shift to almost every conceivable industry, but it may come at a cost. Companies could use collected data to serve hyper-personalized targeted ads to consumers. Also, the vulnerabilities present in current Metaverse builds could easily lead cybercriminals to take over accounts and steal identities. While you shouldn’t shy away from entering this interesting new digital space, make sure to take every precaution to protect your data.
A computer engineer by day, gamer by night. He grew up playing Mario and contra, and just like every other 90s kid, he got passionate about mobile gaming. He had done bachelors in computer science and played fps and MOBA games for years.