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This article was contributed by Waqas, cybersecurity journalist and writer
“Metaverse” is a much-hyped concept that is being mentioned more and more frequently in conversations regarding technology and development. Although the idea has recently gained popularity, it is not entirely new. It first made an appearance in Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel Snow Crash and since then, there have been many versions of the metaverse, especially as the gaming industry caught on to it. These versions have nurtured the idea, as evident through games like Second Life, Eve Online, or even GTA and Red Dead Online.
Despite its long-standing presence in the world of technology, the idea around the metaverse still seems somewhat hazy. It is probably because the recent construction of metaverse is set to happen through Facebook and promises to incarnate the next generation of the internet. It represents the idea of an immersive, next generational virtual 3D world, promising to connect all sorts of digital environments in almost like a digitized mimicry of the actual world we live in. And while the idea of a revolutionized digital world sounds exciting within itself, it has bubbled up several security concerns leading to that big question; how is the metaverse set to change cybersecurity in 2022?
Top cybersecurity concerns with the metaverse
Although the specific ideas around the metaverse are somewhat hazy, privacy and security concerns have surfaced surrounding the concept. There are numerous speculations around how it might impact cybersecurity and what might be some top security concerns needing immediate attention.
We are already aware of some of the cybersecurity issues that are most likely to occur within the metaverse, as far as living a virtual life in 2020 and 2021. While looking at statistical data, it is safe to predict a boom in common cybersecurity issues like phishing. Moreover, the development phases contain hints of possible cybersecurity scenarios within 2022. Since most cyberattacks and frauds have started to occur, It is possible to predict scenarios like:
- NFTs are important as the epicenter of the metaverse economy. There could be an already evident rise in NFT scams, such as selling fake NFTs.
- An occurrence of malicious smart contracts duping people and gaining access to personal information or cryptocurrency wallets.
- The use of vulnerable AR/VR devices becoming an entryway for malware invasions and data breaches. A problem that came with the popularity of VR glasses.
- A likely rise in blockchain scams occurring through seemingly legitimate financial institutions
However, the largest concern looming about the Metaverse surrounds the data privacy and security that will most likely remain under threat for several reasons.
For starters, there is the essential use of AR/VR devices that collect large amounts of user data and information such as biometric information, creating a potential for hack attacks. Moreover, the modern demand for user data is most likely to grow with the Metaverse, as it could provide leverage to collect more user data. Specifically, with Facebook the reason behind Metaverse, it is bound to rob people of their personal information. Moreover, as evident in Second Life, the metaverse avatars will become a source of data collection, violating user privacy.
What will cybersecurity be like in 2022 with the metaverse?
Since the idea of the metaverse has yet to come to life, it is hard to draw fine lines around how it might impact cybersecurity. However, it is possible to draw speculations based on the working of other “metaverses” the gaming industry has managed to conjure, and through various security concerns accompanying the idea.
Ever since the idea of the Metaverse hit the news, a flurry of cybercriminal activity has been evident through rising NFT scams. Since these scams deploy social engineering tactics, it’s safe to say that social engineering attacks are not going away any time soon. In fact, there will likely be a rise in attacks as the metaverse continues to take shape.
The fact that the Metaverse is so far going to house an extensive collection of sensitive data, there has to be a probable rise in hack attacks. Along with that is the evident impact it has on data privacy. If things remain vulnerable, there could be frequent hacks and data theft, harming all users. With that comes the imminent threat of scams and malware invasions.
However, what is probably most deeply concerning is that the metaverse is built through blockchain technology. While this technology is secure, it is not immune to vulnerabilities altogether. Moreover, it is decentralized, with no designated admin or moderator to keep charge or control. With such an absence of authority, there will be no possible way to retrieve stolen or illegally obtained assets.
Since the Metaverse will operate through avatars, there will be no concrete method to identify cybercriminals. Anyone can dupe the digital landscape, as evident over the dark web.
Implementing cybersecurity in the era of the metaverse.
Since the metaverse will bring about with it a hoard of cybersecurity issues, there will be a crucial need to implement strict cybersecurity measures and protocols. For starters, there will be a dire need to ensure stronger endpoint security through various tools like VPNs, proxies, and antimalware software. However, it is crucial that things don’t only stop at that.
As social engineering and phishing attacks are likely to rise, there will be a more crucial need to spread awareness regarding such issues. In fact, cybersecurity in all its essence requires a holistic approach, relying on the need for a perfect blend of security tools and appropriate awareness regarding it.
Along with that, many organizations will need to prepare ahead and implement the use of theta hunting, penetration testing, and vulnerability scans to ensure their security systems are safe, secure, and uncompromising. It is only with each individual recognizing the dire need to secure themselves and understand the risks associated with even the slightest bit of neglect that we can ensure a cyber secure 2022 with the metaverse.
Digitization in all its forms is exciting. The development of technology is met with zeal and zest, primarily as it eases people’s lives all over and eradicates several problems. However, in all its glamour, the cybersecurity aspects of these digitizations are often undermined, as evident with the metaverse.
Although the metaverse is a genuinely remarkable concept and could help the world in several ways, it is crucial to realize that it might all fail if the cybersecurity aspect is ignored. Therefore, within all this hype on its development, cybersecurity is a topic that needs a lot more attention than it is getting.
Waqas is a cybersecurity journalist and writer.
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