Top metaverse cybersecurity challenges: How to address them – TechTarget

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The metaverse is quickly becoming the next must-have concept enterprises are looking at to improve engagement and UX for employees, customers and partners. And, while the metaverse isn’t here just yet, that doesn’t mean companies can’t consider the security challenges it will bring.
Key concepts and justifications for the metaverse are known; the various cybersecurity risks and privacy issues this new virtual universe might contain, however, have gotten less attention.
This article explores some of the privacy and security issues companies can expect to deal with when adopting the metaverse and what to do now to prepare for them.
The metaverse can be defined as a virtual environment in which people connect, interact and shop. This convergence of the physical and digital world is denoted by the Greek word meta, meaning beyond or after, and verse, short for universe.
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There are two main forms of the metaverse:
It is important to note that, in VR experiences generally, there currently should be no expectation of privacy rights; in AR environments, where there is a foothold in the physical world, privacy rights are on firmer ground.
There are three components to cybersecurity in the metaverse: the cybersecurity of the hosting platform, the cybersecurity of the property (renters on the platform) and the cybersecurity of the users of the property (consumers interacting inside the property).
Let’s lay out the main risks associated with each component and how to address them.
Lack of regulations. The largest technology giants are investing in building out the metaverse’s platforms. However, because of a lack of regulation, the security and privacy practices are inconsistent. This leads to fractured and inconsistent UX and expectations.
How to address the risk: Platform owners should seize the opportunity to collaborate on a set of mandates and agree to adhere to a strict code of conduct. This shows leadership and awareness of the cybersecurity challenges in the metaverse. Ultimately, it also helps drive platform adoption.
The oversight of metaverse platforms requires proactive and reactive intervention. Create a comprehensive administrative oversight team supported by a security strategy enabled by artificial intelligence (AI). Use AI insights to proactively identify any abuse, misconduct or misrepresentation, and promptly take action. There should also be mechanisms for property owners and their customers to raise security and privacy issues.
Lack of knowledge about metaverse cybersecurity best practices. Users of virtual real estate include customers, partners and guests, all or some of whom are newbies to the metaverse. In many cases, property owners/renters are also newcomers, creating an atmosphere where cybersecurity and privacy best practices are either missing or misinterpreted, misrepresented or just ignored.
How to address the risk: Property owners should take the time to understand the security and privacy of the platform they are hosted on, examine the services they are building and/or using on the platform, and take steps to ensure the security and privacy of those services. The next crucial step is translating the policy to users of their property in an understandable form.
User data in the metaverse includes sensor, location, physiological and social data. It is important that property owners understand what user data is being collected by the platform provider and then layer on top of that the user data they are collecting as well. They must then provide — in user-understandable form — what this data is, why it is being collected and what data rights their customers have.
Lack of consumer protections. The use of headsets that have sensors and trackers to provide an immersive experience can cause consumers to not realize or pay attention to how and how much of their personal data is being collected. Consumers are at risk because, unlike in the real world, which has consumer-empowering data privacy acts, like GDPR and CCPA, there is no such equivalent in the metaverse.
The lack of credential verification processes, especially for avatar manifestation, puts consumers at risk. Deepfakes are becoming more prevalent in videos, as are impersonations in conference calls. The metaverse presents an even bigger challenge.
Also, communication rights differ depending on the metaverse platform. In AR worlds, communication rights cover physical-to-virtual interactions, as well as virtual-to-virtual interactions. In a VR universe, all interactions are virtual.
How to address the risk: Consumers need to make the effort to understand the security and privacy safeguards being employed by the platform provider and by the property owner. It is incumbent upon the consumer to ask questions of the platform provider and the property owner. What data is being collected? How long is it going to be stored? What data rights exist to purge this data?
Consumers also need to be vigilant and careful in sharing any information. They must proactively reach out to the property owners for verification in case of any doubt.
The foundation of the metaverse needs to be underpinned by security for the following reasons:
Here is a checklist of some of the common security challenges that exist in the metaverse:
VR and AR environments raise many security and privacy questions. Challenges include the following.
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