The dark side of the metaverse

There is a lot of excitement about the metaverse. Optimism is everywhere, mainly due to the prospect that the economy in this new virtual world has significant prospects of becoming much larger than that of the physical world. And the numbers really excite everyone. In the metaverse, the value of e-commerce could reach, according to McKinsey, an incredible 2 to 2.6 trillion dollars by 2030.

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However, the fascination that accompanies the metaverse goes hand in hand with serious concerns. The new digital economy, which fosters creativity and business opportunities, also opens up loopholes for those who consider market manipulation, money laundering and fraud schemes. pump and dump (a form of fraud to artificially inflate prices through rumors or fake news). And all this will be difficult to investigate and process.

Just as the internet gave birth to the dark web, the metaverse will also have its own illegal markets where cybercriminals will interact and engage in malicious activities. The threats are numerous, and some are unprecedented. Because, by its very nature, the metaverse presents an unprecedented digital and physical attack surface.

The amount of data this environment can handle is incredible, ranging from travel history, gaming and shopping preferences, to credit card numbers, social security numbers, phone numbers, transactions, dates of birth and passwords. Platforms will collect data at high speed, with the goal of monetizing through personalized advertising.

And arguing against such overexposure will not be easy. After all, if body tracking allowed the creation of a user avatar, for example, how do you combat other broad forms of data collection? With all this data recorded and potentially available to attackers, new forms of attacks, such as deepfakes, are entering the agenda and making it difficult to know who to trust.

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The list of risks does not end there. Accessing the metaverse requires the user to acquire a set of accessories and specialized hardware to establish connections between the real and virtual worlds. These new accessories may contain a number of sensors capable of storing user data, without providing the necessary security to ensure that this data is not misused. If we think about hardware risks, perhaps the biggest ones are VR headsets, devices that are expected to become as essential to people’s lives as smartphones are today. VR headsets are vulnerable to hackers because it is already known that they can be used to record subtle facial dynamics associated with speech and thereby steal confidential information communicated by voice command.

There are other sources of concern. Like NFTs, there are threats from identity theft, kidnapping for ransom, fraud, and attacks that involve the creation of multiple identities, allowing an attacker to take control of verifying a transaction. Furthermore, the metaverse favors criminal recruitment. The web has been the foundation of this type of recruitment for all forms of modern extremism in recent years, and the metaverse is sure to complicate the problem. Because it is even easier to make appointments with him.

So far we haven’t invented technology that doesn’t have the potential for good and bad. The Metaverse will certainly not be an exception. However, none of these risks should be a reason to run away from there. What is needed? Continue to develop the level of cybersecurity maturity and expand the use of traditional protection tools for technologies that are somehow related to the metaverse.

We are probably still a few years away from these threats becoming a serious problem for society. On the other hand, it also means that we have a few years to lay the foundations and ensure that the platform does not become a force for criminals. The work must start immediately.

Allan Costa is the Vice President of ISH Tech

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