The metaverse has been a hot topic of discussion, with experts predicting that it will be worth about $85 billion by 2025. This has drawn the attention of the likes of Microsoft, Facebook, Nvidia, Microsoft, Magic Leap, and other giant wits.
The word metaverse combines the prefix “meta” which means beyond and “universe“. The metaverse combines different technologies, augmented reality, the internet, and virtual reality to bring out a virtual space where people can socialize, play, own land and trade- especially using digital currencies. The perceived world is characterized by enhanced 3D physical reality with endless possibilities.
Usually, participants on the metaverse are represented by digital avatars, making it possible for participants to engage in various activities in the virtual world. Some metaverses are a replica of existing real-world items, while others are fantasy realities allowing users to explore their imaginations. One thing to note is that the metaverse is constantly growing and evolving, thanks to increased participants from its societies.
While the concept is still nascent, it has shown great potential in transforming the marketing, gaming, and communication industries. For instance, metaverses have already begun allowing participants to advertise their physical stores (businesses) through billboards. Some have allowed owners to hire out their virtual spaces to others for advertisement purposes.
Vulnerabilities on the Metaverse
Being the latest trend, the metaverse is the perfect target for cyber-attacks. The high level of interactions calls for accountability from both developers and users. The growing number of cyber-attacks has been a significant concern for many sectors, including the upcoming NFT (Non-fungible Token) marketplace.
Since the metaverse concept was introduced, there have been little to no cases of hacking attacks. While this might be comforting for some within the industry, the truth remains that hacking attacks are imminent.
Reportedly, Trend Micro's report titled "Attacks From All Angles: 2021 Midyear Cybersecurity Report" highlights how hackers have updated their tactics and are now more motivated than ever to lure unsuspecting users.
In the last few months, hackers have conducted high-profile modern ransomware attacks, created Covid-19 scams, and threatened various clouding services and the internet of things (IoT).
In the metaverse, these attacks may take ‘sci-fi’ type forms through deep fakes and hacking of avatars. These types of attacks might make it harder to identify, verify or bring under control, and it might be difficult or impossible to ascertain where responsibility lies regarding the breach.
For instance, some metaverse projects allow businesses to create storefronts, a replica of their physical store. However, there is no guarantee that the storefront on the metaverse belongs to the actual company or brand.
Must Read: Need of Cybersecurity in Metaverse
The main challenge lies in the possibility of hackers forging features, voices, footage and other characteristics that make up high-end stores, businesses, and brands to defraud uses within the metaverse. The nature of the metaverse makes it a formidable task to safeguard users’ real identity from the metaverse avatars.
Another concern is the wrongful use of smart contracts. Hackers can use online swap services facilitated by smart contracts to move users’ cryptocurrencies out of their wallets. By representing reputable businesses and high-profile personalities, hackers will gain the trust of unsuspecting users who will willingly enter into smart contracts. As a result, many will lose their assets to hackers and will not be able to take any action against them.
Data privacy and security is also a significant concern in the upcoming metaverse space. For instance, some metaverse projects will allow users to create a replica of their homes, streets, and cities, which will make it easy for dubious characters to steal personal data, including floorplans that they might need to conduct a physical attack (burglary) on the users.
At the moment, developers and users can use existing security measures to protect themselves and the virtual spaces against existing attacks.
Among the proponents that currently need protection in the metaverse include user privacy, data use ethics and safety, and biometric data. However, the available protection mechanism will not effectively prevent new attacks that have not been experienced before.
That said, it is high time for participants within the metaverse to set up adequate measures that will help fight against such attacks. Since users’ data on the metaverse platforms are stored on different servers across the globe, it is essential to have a proper mechanism to protect the information from unwanted parties.
There is a need to create new personal data and privacy protection methods. This could include providing more personal data by users during the verification process and upgrading security systems by developers.
In addition, there is a need to introduce regulations that will help govern operations within the metaverse. This, however, will not be an easy task, given the different jurisdictions that are at play and uncertain possibilities in future development.
In conclusion, the best approach to ensure the sanctity of the metaverse industry would be to create guidelines that help exciting and upcoming metaverse projects. These guidelines should factor in the complexities of running and interactions in virtual reality. Once the guidelines are established, it will be easy for participants to prepare against hacks and other cyber-attacks in the metaverse.
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