July 14, 2022 Ali Ashar

Cybersecurity in Metaverse

The Metaverse may bring new cyber risks. From identity and privacy to moderation and physical security.

With the rise of Blockchain and subsequently cryptocurrency, NFTs, and Metaverse, innovation in the space has been the only constant. However, digital innovation has always had two sides, the other one being a significant threat in cyber security compromises. Criminals of cyberspace have always been quick to spot opportunities in the latest form of technology, especially one like Metaverse.

What is Metaverse?

Imagine a virtual world in which people live, work, shop, and interact with others — all from the comfort of their couch in the physical world. In simpler terms – This is known as the Metaverse.

It mimics aspects of the physical world using technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), AI, social media, and cryptocurrency. The internet is something that people “browse.” But, to a degree, people can “live” in the metaverse.

The Hype

“Metaverse” didn’t become a household term until Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta in October 2021. At that time, the company announced plans to spend $10 billion over the next year on technologies to build out its vision of the metaverse.

The metaverse is considered the next evolution of the internet. It will take many forms, including gaming, online communities, and business meetings where people collaborate via a digital facsimile or avatar of themselves.

But it is never as good as it looks

However fascinating the concept of Metaverse sounds, it comes with its own set of vulnerabilities. One way to avoid this is to have robust cybersecurity in this yet-to-be-regulated space.

There are more than just a few issues Metaverse could potentially bring along, including buying and selling fake NFTs. This will not only put a big dent in an investor’s pocket but also hamper the reputation of the space. Cybercriminals have not limited themselves to cryptocurrency scams, and the scams have also been spotted with the smart contract executing transactions. Cybercriminals are seen to abuse the executing power of these smart contracts and swap tokens from the buyer’s wallet. This also leaves a scope for the development of smart contracts intending to dupe the user.


Need for Cybersecurity in Metaverse

Along with extensive growth opportunities, the metaverse comes with legitimate concerns about privacy and data security. As everything is built virtually in the metaverse, cybercriminals have plenty of options to hack the data and misuse it for their personal gains. 

    • Some of the risks that metaverse users face are similar to those raised by the users of the internet such as phishing emails, data hacking, and malware attack among others. However, the unique architecture on which the metaverse is built brings additional challenges to the horizon. For example, cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are extensively used in the metaverse, and hackers might find these things interesting for hacking purposes.
    • Another cyber security concern unique to metaverse is the preservation of the virtual identity of users. Further, metaverse companies need to safeguard all the critical information related to the business transactions happening in the online space. This preservation is the most critical step in ensuring the long-term sustenance of metaverse as a separate business category.
    • Just like the two-dimensional internet, the security solutions related to both hardware and software will help metaverse to grow at a desirable pace. All assets and equipment in the metaverse must be able to detect threats and offer protection against the basic risks associated with the category.  To enjoy the immersive virtual world in the metaverse, users require some special hardware devices including smart glasses, VR headsets, etc. All these equipment are critical for optimum functioning of metaverse although, in the absence of security mechanisms, these devices can become a soft target for hackers. Therefore, it’s absolutely essential that all equipment features high-grade safety and security so that any unauthorized leaks can be prevented with certainty.
    • The issue of intellectual property rights is also a critical challenge, especially when it comes to virtual space. The policymakers and regulators must address this head-on so that both users and organizations operating in the metaverse remain protected all the time. 


How to handle Metaverse Cybersecurity Concerns? 

    1. First and foremost, the metaverse platforms have to adopt a Zero Trust policy – Trust Nothing, Validate Everything. This requires a solid framework for the preservation of the data and continuous verification of the third parties with which the exchange of the data takes place. Companies should strive to go beyond authentication and check all possible levels of digital interactions which are susceptible to the exfiltration of sensitive information.
    2. The inclusion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning can significantly improve the efficacy of cybersecurity solutions. By analyzing the access patterns of users, both these new-age technologies can prevent data leakage, as well as prevent the dangers of cyber attacks on metaverse platforms.
    3. The Web 3.0 introduction will also help in creating an atmosphere of pro-privacy and anti-monopoly. Using the idea of decentralization, the new-age internet technology offers better protection against data fraud and hacking attempts. In fact, the use of digital currencies and blockchain technology in the metaverse offers innate data protection to users.   


For Metaverse to function seamlessly, cybersecurity guidelines are going to play a prominent role. With big names like Facebook and Microsoft getting into Metaverse, having a dependable regulation will be even more crucial.

However, there does exist an immediate fix.

If we look at the core component of Metaverse, it all runs on pre-programmed lines of code that exist on the immutable ledger of Blockchain. Yes, smart contracts are yet again one of the most crucial parts of this new innovation. Assets being traded in the Metaverse or the transactions that will be done will all happen through smart contracts built on top of Blockchain.

And one of the most efficient ways to ensure the security of the user in the Metaverse is to get such smart contracts audited.

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