The Metaverse: What is it?
The metaverse is a term used to describe a virtual setting where individuals can connect, engage, and conduct business. The Greek words meta and verse, which translate to “beyond or after,” and “universe,” respectively, are the origin of this fusion of the digital and physical worlds.
Virtual reality and augmented reality are the two main types of the metaverse.
Using a VR headset, virtual reality creates a false reality. To provide an immersive experience, it takes over the user’s field of vision. The use of audio and positional body tracking to allow movement of body parts, like the hands, to interact with the virtual environment are other types of immersive experiences.
VR is more immersive than augmented reality (AR). Through some kind of lens, it adds virtual overlays on the existing reality. The users’ vision of their surroundings is still unaltered. Examples of augmented reality include a smartphone running the Waze app or a wearable like Microsoft’s HoloLens. The host is able to determine a user’s location and infer their intentions.
Common challenges in the metaverse of cyber security
The following are some typical security issues that exist in these two metaverse universes:
- Privacy. There are no laws governing the metaverse, and data collecting is necessary for a genuinely customised immersive experience, which involves privacy infringement. Most of the time, users have no idea how much data they are supplying. In a study from UC Berkeley 1, researchers showed how a VR game could gather “over 25 personal data atttributes” in just a few minutes, including height, wingspan, age, gender, physical fitness, room size, geolocation, language, ethnicity, etc. Virtual experiences have no borders, therefore maintaining privacy is at the whim of the platform owner and the property owners, unlike GDPR and other rules, which have standards for regional sovereignty.
- Identity. Identity spoofing, account hacking, and avatar hijacking are all possibilities for Metaverse users. The identity of the individual who users of the metaverse are dealing with is frequently in doubt.
- customer weaknesses. VR and AR headsets are powerful devices with a tonne of memory and software. They are also easy prey for both purposeful and unintentional hacks. Furthermore, location spoofing and gadget manipulation allow offenders to assume users’ identities and wreck havoc once within the metaverse.
- Interactions between users. Trust and business are how these relationships are created because the metaverse experience is all about facilitating user-to-user communications. One nasty guy can do a lot of damage. It is imperative to address the demand for scaled moderation.
- data reliability. Accuracy is the foundation upon which location, product quality, customer reviews, user information, and reliable third-party data are built. It can be challenging to ensure correctness.
- challenges to moderation. In most metaverses, there is no access to assistance or support. For instance, nonfungible token theft may leave a user without assistance.
Specific security issues with VR and AR
- Reliance. Since the owner of a metaverse platform or product owns it, all of the platform’s or product’s consumers are entirely dependent on the metaverse owner. As an illustration, early adopter businesses that opted to use Second Life were forced to rely solely on that platform for all aspects of security, identity protection, privacy, and even financial transactions.
- Responsibility. In a VR environment, the real estate a user purchases or rents poses several security and privacy issues that require solutions. Who can access or cannot access the property? Does the owner have the authority to control who is allowed to enter and who is not? What takes place within these buildings? Could there be illicit or financial activity inside?
- Authentication. It can be hard to verify that a person or thing is who they claim to be. How can you be sure the person you’re talking to is who they say they are? Consider the field of telemedicine. How can a patient tell if the person they are speaking to is a medical expert? Before permitting a doctor to practise, how can a property owner verify their credentials?
- Accountability. Is the owner of the VR environment responsible if fraud, harassment, or other forms of abuse happen?
Obstacles to VR security
- Hacking and privileged accounts. The hijacking of admin or customer support accounts could lead to a serious compromise of a VR environment, which, if uncovered, could hurt several users.
- VR environments are not yet subject to any restrictions. Regulations will eventually be implemented due to the owner of the metaverse VR platform’s intrusive data gathering and analysis practises, as well as the fact that a lot of data is regularly provided by users who are not VR users. But as of right now, the platform owner has complete control over whether to protect or share this data.
- Compromised access point. Because most people utilise a headset to enter the VR metaverse, a breach of the headset endpoint could lead to a complete takeover of the user’s avatar.
- Spying. Meetings, private conversations, and other interactions can be spied on and bugged without the targeted parties’ awareness thanks to avatars’ ability to change appearance.
- data consistency. Any breach in data integrity could pose a significant barrier because AR entails superimposing third-party data. For instance, if a location app overlayed onto a headset uses inaccurate location data, the user can receive the wrong directions.
- a physical barrier. Users generally roam about in the actual world while wearing an AR overlay, raising questions about physical security. Users who spend too much time in the virtual world run the risk of hurting themselves or those close to them.
What the metaverse signifies for the future of our lives is a topic on which there is a great deal of debate. But there is one thing that is undeniable: the metaverse is brand-new and essentially ungoverned by what we could consider conventional laws, and the cyberthreats that exist in the modern world will probably still exist in the age of the Metaverse. But new threats will undoubtedly develop. As was previously mentioned, the Metaverse connects many technologies, increasing data sharing like never before. That alone demonstrates the significant increase in attack surface.
Another drawback is that access to the Metaverse requires wearable technology. Sensitive data can be captured considerably more easily with this device. With the availability of wearables on the secondary market, violations may increase.
It is obvious that these worries represent a challenging task, but the business that resolves them first will gain a competitive advantage and reap significant financial, reputational, and strategic benefits.