The Metaverse, while still mostly a concept at the moment, consists of the possibilities that arise when you combine the advances and affordability in extended reality (XR) space with the decentralized nature and composability of Web3, crypto assets, decentralized finance (DeFi) and its underlying blockchain technology.
It is designed to transform human engagement and interactions and push the boundaries of commercialization. It's also a whole new world with security risks, vulnerabilities, and legitimate user concerns. For as much as these innovations can push the boundaries of human interaction, they also present new opportunities for fraud, cybercrime and scams.
We're not sure where Metaverse, Web3, and NFTs will lead, or whether blockchain will remain a viable infrastructure technology, but what can be seen now is that these environments need better approaches to security. A lot of money is being invested in this area, and a lot of money is being stolen. For example, blockchain analytics firm Elliptic reported that DeFi platforms have lost $12 billion to date.
And the security problems that exist today - scams, impersonation, credential theft, social engineering, vulnerabilities, misinformation, the list goes on - will come with us into the metaverse and may have even more damaging impact. Think about how for example In the metaverse, phishing attacks using deep fake technology could impersonate trusted institutions or your friend’s avatars.
People currently interested in the metaverse are already being duped by phishing scams peddling fraudulent NFTs, metaverse land-sales and other dubious Web3 projects via social media, Discord channels, email and comments on popular YouTube videos.
Another security issue in the metaverse are trolls, sexual and racial harassment which are all problems we are faced with right now on most digital platforms but the immersiveness of VR can have a more devastating effect on their victim’s mental well-being.
The risks for children are especially high as they are more likely to explore the metaverse before their parents will, exposing them to inappropriate content without us, the parents or caregivers being aware of it.
Most existing VR worlds already offer a number of tools to combat this, such as personal spaces and muting, blocking and reporting bad behaviour.
So as parents, it’s important we educate ourselves, as well as vulnerable groups such as our children on the risks as well as the importance of how to use these tools to protect ourselves and our families in this brave new world.
Stay up to date on the rest of this evangelist series to help keep you and your users safe during Cybersecurity Awareness Month and beyond!