The Metaverse: Are we ready for it?

25 Nov 2021

The Metaverse; everyone’s talking about it since Facebook cleverly changed its name to ‘meta’ and announced its intentions to create the ‘metaverse’. But what is the metaverse? What does it mean for the future of the internet and how can you prepare for it? Let’s talk about it.

What is the metaverse?

Think of it as a 3D version of the internet, a virtual environment you can go into with the help of Virtual reality or Augmented reality technology, instead of just looking at a 2D screen. In essence, the metaverse adds another dimension to the internet, bringing it closer to real life. 

Who is building the metaverse?

Facebook is not the only company building a metaverse, major competition includes Nvidia’s Omniverse, Microsoft’s Mesh, Epic Games’ Fortnite metaverse and the Roblox metaverse. The latter two already have built a digital universe and an active user base.

What will you be able to do in the metaverse?

Pretty much everything, and more! Attend a virtual concert, teleport to your favourite holiday destination, build a business, host a party in your virtual home or attend virtual work meetings, the possibilities are endless.

Endless possibilities, endless threats…

While the metaverse brings a lot of opportunities for individuals and companies alike, it also brings its share of cyber security and privacy concerns. The metaverse introduces a whole new category of digital assets and personal information that cybercriminals would love to get their digital hands on. Whether they will be able to, relies heavily on how prepared companies are for cyber attacks and how aware users are of cyber threats. Judging by the fact that almost every company working on a metaverse has suffered a major security breach or data leak in the past, there are doubts on whether they are able to adequately protect their customer data.

End users also need to adopt proper cyber hygiene

Research has shown that 35% of people use weak passwords and 55% of people use the same password for all/majority of services used. This makes it extremely easy for cyber criminals to hack an account and not only steal personal information but also NFTs and purchases such as skins and digital living spaces. Imagine the horror one might feel when logging into the metaverse and finding out that their Rick Sanchez skin has been stolen and their avatar now looks like Mark Zuckerberg’s avatar in the connect 2021 presentation. To make it worse, all their digital art has been stolen as well, and their virtual living room now looks like the living room of a minimalist youtuber.

Social engineering attacks will get much more sophisticated and dangerous

cyber criminals will have much more data they can use to manipulate a victim just by observing their virtual avatar. Social engineering attempts might become harder to identify as well, take CEO email fraud as an example; a threat actor could spoof a CEO’s virtual avatar instead of just their email, making the attempt much more convincing.

Data privacy concerns

The added dimension the metaverse introduces to the internet also means an added dimension of data that may be collected and needs to be protected. The metaverse will allow companies to collect much more behavioral data than ever before, it won’t just be limited to clicks and ‘likes’ anymore but extend to social and physical behavior of users, such as head and eye movement since virtual avatars will be mimicking real life behavior. This will allow companies to create even more accurate profiles on users, which they could use to prioritize advertising content that the user is most likely to interact with.

Data Processing transparency

With the highly sensitive and intimate data that companies are trusted with, it is extremely important for these companies to be transparent about the data that is collected, how it is processed and which parties it is shared with. This would allow users to make an informed decision on whether they want to share such data and possibly opt out of sharing certain data. This is also important for users to know in case of a data breach, knowing what kind of data might have been leaked allows users to better identify phishing or social engineering attempts.

Regulations

Business Ethics would dictate that companies handling sensitive personal data would do so responsibly and transparently. However, this is not always easy for innovative and fast-growing companies and tends to be overlooked. Regulatory bodies are there to prevent this from happening and ensure that the rights of consumers are protected. It is important for companies to stay on top of these regulations as non-compliance can result in hefty fines. One way for companies to ensure compliance is to adapt a compliance-by-design approach. 

A safe and secure metaverse

Cybersecurity, data privacy, and compliance need to be integrated from the very beginning by metaverse developers to ensure the safety and success of this evolution of the internet. This is also true for smaller businesses planning to take advantage of what the metaverse has to offer, ensuring good cybersecurity practices can help prevent a lot of trouble. Here are 7 steps  you can take right now to get started.

Naq offers SMEs a one-stop cybersecurity and data compliance solution, including world-class cybersecurity, complete data compliance, staff training and security advice from as little as £99 per month.  You can even try us for free today.