What is the Metaverse? How will it affect Cybersecurity?
What if one day you could race an F1 sports car at full speed, spar head-to-head with your favorite MMA fighter, or even ride a unicorn with your friends on the moon? Now you can do all of that in the metaverse, a virtual reality space where users can interact in real time. For enterprises, the metaverse has the potential to unlock new business opportunities and expand markets like never before. However, with this potential comes a significant risk: the vulnerability of sensitive business data to cyber-attacks. As such, cybersecurity is a critical consideration for any business seeking to leverage the Metaverse.
This article will explore the intersection of metaverse and cybersecurity and examine different risks that come with its adoption for businesses, such as data privacy, intellectual property protection, risk mitigation, and more.
Why is the metaverse the next trend?
The metaverse has become the buzzword of the generation, in a nutshell, it refers to a digital world where users do everything just like they do in the real world. In other words, the metaverse is essentially a virtual reality platform where users can interact with each other in a simulated environment.
Numerous multi-billion-dollar corporations, like J.P Morgan, HSBC, LVMH, and Coca-Cola, have already experimented with the metaverse for market expansion and business growth in the future. By 2025, the number of active virtual reality users is expected to reach 70 million. That’s where the big picture of the metaverse comes in. According to Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Meta, formerly known as Facebook, the metaverse can “make us live in a virtual world, as an escape from the real world”. Virtual reality allows people to fully immerse themselves in a digital world where people can carry out all of their daily tasks from the comfort of their own homes. Companies can even create virtual storefronts, events, and even entire ecosystems in the Metaverse, offering consumers new and exciting ways to engage with their brands.
Overall, the metaverse is expected to become more multi-dimensional in the future. And it presents businesses with an exciting opportunity to expand their markets and make great business growth.
What are the potential risks of the metaverse and how can they challenge cybersecurity?
However, as appealing as it may sound, there already exists a widespread of cybersecurity concerns when enterprises increasingly turn to the Metaverse for business opportunities. Here are some of the key threats:
1. Data privacy
When companies developing their virtual worlds, it is crucial that they should prioritize data privacy concern. In the virtual world, users’ personal data will be collected through the usage of smart devices, including their names, email addresses, phone numbers, search history, and credit card numbers. Furthermore, with the combination of metaverse, AR and VR devices, the system can even capture users’ biometric information like fingerprints, eye patterns, and voiceprints.
If these highly sensitive data are hacked and stolen, users may lose all their digital assets and face financial ruin, both in the digital and real world. The leakage of user private data brings severe loss to the company, such as the damage of brand trust, financial loss and legal consequence. Overall, personal data leakage within a metaverse could have significant and far-reaching consequences for both users and companies. It's critical for companies to prioritize data privacy and take steps to prevent such incidents from occurring.
2. Vulnerabilities of AR/VR devices
Since users will be relying on virtual reality (AR/VR) glasses and headsets as their primary devices to access the metaverse, the vulnerabilities of these digital devices raise yet an arrange of security concern First of all, AR/VR devices are susceptible to malware and viruses, which can lead to the problems of data theft, unauthorized access to the device or endpoint network. Moreover, these AR/VR devices are vulnerable to the majority of cyber-attacks, such as denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks. These attacks can disrupt the functioning of the device or the network and can cause the leakage of sensitive information.
According to a study conducted by The State University of New Jersey, hackers could use these headsets with built-in motion sensors to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers and passwords from users. To address these vulnerabilities, it's vital for companies to prioritize security and take steps to mitigate these risks while developing their metaverse world.
3. Digital assets and cyber attack
Along with protecting personal data and privacy, users’ top security concerns also include safeguarding their digital assets like cryptocurrencies, virtual properties, and NFTs. As far as technology is concerned, there will always be individuals willing to exploit the weakness of the platform. If a hacker gains unauthorized access to a company's virtual real estate, they can take control of the digital property and sell it for profit. Similarly, if a hacker gains access to a company's virtual currency, they can steal or manipulate it for their own benefit. Any disruptions to a company's metaverse presence could result in lost revenue and damage to their brand reputation. For instance, in May 2022, the Feminist Metaverse smart contract on Binance Chain suffered a smart contract attack resulting in the loss of over $550,000 in funds. As the value of digital assets in the metaverse continues to increase, the risk of cyber-attacks targeting these assets will also rise. Therefore, companies must prioritize cybersecurity to protect their metaverse assets from potential threats.
4. Decentralization and the lack of regulation
Ironically, the decentralized nature of the platform itself is likely to be the biggest security problem surrounding the metaverse. Nobody holds complete power over the metaverse because it is managed through Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). And since the metaverse is not subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), users’ online privacy and their valuable data can be at risk. This can lead to breaches, thefts, and other forms of cybercrime that can have devastating effects on both the company and its users. Therefore, such security concerns will continue to be the most prominent issue for users, until further regulations and consensus between the governments and companies can be made.
What is metaverse cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is not a novel concept, it has been protecting users' information, safeguarding digital assets such as virtual currencies and NFTs, ensuring the security of metaverse infrastructure and networks, and preventing cyber attacks and exploits that could compromise the metaverse ecosystem. As the metaverse is slowly but surely becoming a reality, it will be crucial to have a solid cybersecurity solution to safeguard your digital assets and properties.
How to ensure metaverse cybersecurity?
First of all, Microsoft has outlined key elements for securing the metaverse, which consist of identity, access management, endpoint protection, data protection, threat protection, and compliance. These fundamental components imply that a variety of cybersecurity technologies can be implemented to maintain metaverse security, including solutions for managing identity and access, software for protecting endpoints, and technologies for data protection.
In addition, TechTarget identifies three key elements of cybersecurity in the metaverse: safeguarding the hosting platform, protecting the property and its tenants, and ensuring the security of users within the property. Therefore, it may be necessary to implement cybersecurity measures that specifically address each of these components in order to effectively manage security in the metaverse.
Finally, the idea of zero trust is emphasized as an essential approach to address cybersecurity issues in the metaverse. Zero trust mandates constant verification of access and authentication and may involve the adoption of technologies like multifactor authentication, encryption, and intrusion detection and prevention systems.
To summarize, there are several cybersecurity technologies available to tackle the different aspects of metaverse cybersecurity, such as identity and access management solutions, endpoint protection software, data protection technologies, multifactor authentication, encryption, and intrusion detection and prevention systems.
Protect your metaverse security with HKT’s Managed EDR Solutions
Endpoint protection is a crucial element in securing metaverse cybersecurity, which helps safeguard the hosting platform, protect the property and its tenants, and ensure the security of users within the property. HKT’s Managed Endpoint Detection and Responses (EDR) provides real-time protection against advanced threats and cyber-attacks while also enabling businesses to quickly detect suspicious activities or malicious actors on your network. Get in touch with us today to learn how we can help safeguard your endpoint security!