The metaverse has been making headlines recently, with its promises of merging the digital and physical world. It’s something that sci-fi books and films have been promising for decades now, but it’s only in the past few months that people like Mark Zuckerberg have started talking about it, calling it “successor to the mobile internet.” While it could change the way we interact with each other, the new technology could create many more opportunities for cyber criminals. Whether or not the metaverse is a success really depends on how secure it is.
What exactly is the metaverse?
Although it’s become somewhat of a buzzword over the past year or so, the name ‘metaverse’ comes from a 1992 sci-fi novel, Snow Crash, in which people could create lifelike avatars to explore a virtual reality world. The metaverse has been around as a concept for a while, and inspired video games like Second Life and Roblox. Essentially, it’s the next generation of the internet, and a chance for people to immerse themselves in a digital world with VR and AR technology.
Why is it growing in popularity?
If the metaverse turns out to be the next internet, then it could be where we all head to shop, to hang out with friends, and even to work. We could log on and go about our daily lives without ever leaving the house. Mark Zuckerberg is confident that the metaverse will become the next big thing - he’s said that it “will be mainstream in the next five to 10 years,” and has also renamed his company, Facebook in 2021, rebranding it as Meta. Even though it might be years away, other companies don’t want to be left behind, and are investing heavily in the concept. Apple, Microsoft, and Roblox are all getting involved, and even Nike and Tinder are looking to blur the boundaries between the online and offline worlds.
What are the security problems?
Since the metaverse doesn’t technically exist at the moment - it’s more of a concept - it’s impossible to say for sure what the problems might be. However, there are already a lot of cyber security threats online, from phishing to DDoS attacks. With the metaverse potentially turning the online world into a place where we spend the majority of our time, this could exacerbate the risks of these threats. To log on to the metaverse, many users will have to use AR and VR technology, which could offer many more entry points for cyber criminals.
There are already fake accounts on social media, but the metaverse could take this to a whole new level. Hackers could access your credentials and clone your identity, accessing any sensitive data that you might be storing in the metaverse. Another potential security risk is the danger of invisible-avatar eavesdropping, otherwise known as ‘man in the room’ attacks. Although this isn’t possible yet, criminals may figure out ways of making their presence undetectable in the metaverse. If they can do this, they’d be able to lurk in spaces where organisations conduct their businesses, giving them a whole new cyber espionage threat to look out for.
What can be done to make it more secure?
While we can’t know exactly what threats the metaverse will pose, it’s certain that it will transform the digital landscape, and businesses are already working on ways to secure it before it’s too late. A lot of cyber threats will be malware, ransomware and phishing attacks - it’s just that the technologies powering the metaverse will give attackers more ways of getting to your data. Hackers will exploit any vulnerability they can find, and AR and VR devices will only increase the attack surface. Some of these services we offer at CSA are designed to protect organisations from these kinds of threats. Services like Lookout Mobile Endpoint Security address the risks of mobile devices like laptops and mobile phones that connect to your network, and can be scaled to hundreds of different devices.
Even though the metaverse will be able to connect the world in a way that no technology has before, it will still bring a whole host of new challenges, and if these aren’t addressed then it will fail before it even has a chance to flourish. Businesses looking to get involved in the metaverse should be wary of these risks. To find out more about how we can help your business keep your data secure, get in touch with us today.