Everyone’s talking about the metaverse. Tech giants are in a race to integrate into this new parallel world even as questions of data security surface. While the concept isn’t new, the business landscape has only recently been looking at the potential of the metaverse outside the gaming world.
According to a survey from a web data platform Bright Data, and conducted by research firm Vanson Bourne, more than half of its respondents are aware of how the metaverse works. About 89% consider it important for business operations and 97% of the respondents acknowledge the importance of data in the metaverse. However, 60% cite data and security as the top challenges of this virtual world.
Everyone is asking the same question: how will the metaverse impact cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity and the Metaverse
Cybersecurity has been a constant challenge even in today’s online world. Online users are prone to data theft, phishing attacks, and data privacy issues. Data security issues will continue to rise as we move to a new virtual world.
NFTs, which are the center of the metaverse community, have been subject to NFT scams. Security experts predict possibilities of identity theft and man-in-the-room cyberattacks. Imagine interacting with another avatar during a business meeting. As you gaze at the avatar, you cannot see if it’s an imposter who obtained the real person’s identity credentials. Picture conducting a business meeting and having an invisible user, the “man in the room,” eavesdrop on your conversations. It might seem far-fetched or seem like a concept of spy movies, but these can be realities.
A widely embraced idea is the integration of biometrics security in future augmented reality and virtual reality devices. Tech companies developing these devices can include iris recognition in headsets or fingerprint readers on control devices. It’s yet to be seen how comfortable users will be in releasing biometrics data to tech companies.
Data Collection and Data Security
It’s safe to assume that as we further develop the metaverse, we’d be collecting and using more and more data from users who’d participate in it. As people move freely within the virtual world, they’ll leave traces of their data behind.
“We now know that organizations rely on public web data to support the most strategic decision-making. The metaverse will add a new layer to this – revealing millions of additional public data points,” said CEO of Bright Data, Or Lenchner, in a press release shared with ARPost. “As such, it is clear that data solutions will play a key role in connecting organizations to their customers or employees in the metaverse, helping to uncover hidden insights.”
With Facebook (Meta) actively entering development in the metaverse, there’s concern over how much personal data will be collected. Everyone knows they rely heavily on personal information to serve highly targeted ads as their main revenue source.
As already evident in existing metaverses, digital avatars are data collection mines. Even as you use cryptocurrencies when making purchases across this virtual reality, you still have information connected to your real-world finances—data that can fall into the wrong hands.
Blockchain technology powers a lot of the activities in the metaverse. Even though it’s a secure technology, it can still fall into vulnerabilities. And as a decentralized system, the questions are: who safeguards the collected data; how do you retrieve stolen assets?
New World, Better Security Measures
With a hoard of data security issues, it’s imperative that tech companies devote their energies to creating stringent and better security measures to prevent malicious data breaches. Endpoint security using VPNs, proxies, and antimalware software are important. It’s also important to educate users about common cybersecurity threats like phishing, identity theft, and social engineering.
As we move to a future with AR and VR devices, we can expect more devices connecting and exchanging loads of data. This hardware must have tight security whose underlying tech we might have yet to develop. Metaverse fans are predicting the use of sensors to circumvent the need to require extensive—and even sensitive—personal data just to verify a user’s identity.
Additionally, creating policies and regulations on who owns the data and who has the right to sell it must be a top priority for every party involved. In today’s online world, the company that has access to the most data becomes the clear winner. Will the same be true for the metaverse?
“I must caution and stress the need to collect data responsibly and intelligently in the metaverse and avoid at all costs harming the overall data ecosystem,” said Lenchner. “We must be prepared to measure exactly how much as well as the types of data that organizations require in planning their future business direction.”
At the end of the day, it boils down to individual users protecting themselves when accessing the metaverse. As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, users must also be more discerning of what data to provide the metaverse. Companies who collect the data must also exhaust all means to protect the trust given to them.
Businesses will gain more confidence to integrate their operations with the metaverse once these threats are addressed, and cybersecurity measures are improved.