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Is the Metaverse safe?

The Metaverse is still at an early stage. As a result, there are still some vulnerabilities that need to be worked around.

Mark
Updated: January 16, 2023

The Metaverse represents a new and exciting way to do business and pursue a way of life. If you think the Internet has significantly transformed your life, you can expect more exciting stuff coming your way courtesy of this revolutionary new concept.

Despite its obvious promise and potential, the Metaverse is still in its infancy. This nascent technology is yet to see its full potential realized. Right now, only brands, retailers and investors are actively using the space to reach out to their target market. This means that the virtual world still has many areas left unexplored and vulnerabilities that remain unknown.

The question is – is the Metaverse safe to use? 

The right questions to answer, however, are: Are there dangers for end users in the Metaverse? Are there ways for stakeholders to mitigate these risks and make their consumers’ experience in the Metaverse as safe and smooth as possible?

Below are some of the threats to user security in the Metaverse and how existing providers can reduce these dangers’ impact to consumer safety.

Financial Fraud in the Metaverse

Decentralization is one of the biggest advantages of transacting in the Metaverse. However, it’s a double-edged sword. The use of the blockchain to transfer money from one wallet to another also affords anonymity that could be abused by unscrupulous individuals. 

For instance, parties involved in organized money laundering will find it easy, as of this time, to transfer dirty money to their cryptocurrency wallets and move them to “clean” accounts not linked to any criminal activity. Criminal organizations could also transfer cryptocurrency between themselves, and regulatory bodies will never know. 

This activity could extend to the Metaverse, which could give a more personal interaction between avatars should these shady groups decide to extend their activities to the space. In addition, cryptocurrency has already been the focal point of online financial fraud – the Metaverse will simply enlarge the landscape in which these pirates could play.

Identity Theft in the Metaverse

Anonymity also exposes the end user to both risks and benefits. Anonymity can help an individual safeguard aspects of their life they want to keep hidden while still enjoying what the Internet can offer. However, like decentralization, anonymity can be turned around on its head to become a danger to people in the Metaverse.

Throughout the years, Facebook users have experienced several instances of identity theft. Third-parties would download their profile pictures and other available content,and create a new account based on those. These people would then prey on unsuspecting contacts and commit financial fraud by pretending to be in financial trouble.

With Facebook, however, there are ways to determine if the account is fake just by looking at the timeline. On the other hand, the Metaverse’s immersive nature means that you could only come face-to-face with an avatar claiming to be somebody and you’d have no means of verifying their identity.

Cyber Attacks and Data Vulnerability in the Metaverse

At its current state, the Metaverse is very vulnerable to data theft and cybersecurity attacks. This opening is exacerbated by the immersive nature of virtual reality – once you’ve put on the VR headset, you’re totally at the mercy of the network that you’re connected to.

There are various ways that attackers can exploit VR headsets and commit cybercrimes. These include:

  • Deepfakes

Hackers can infect VR headgear with malware that could record unsuspecting users’ motion-tracking data. They can then create a copy of the user’s avatar, implant it with the acquired data and commit identity theft. This is similar to using a keylogger to steal people’s passwords.

  • Headset hijacking

In more extreme cases, hackers can directly connect to the headset and take control. This usually results in experiences that physically harm the user. For example, they can turn the views around at high-speed, resulting in nausea and vertigo.

  • Ransomware

Ransomware could be inserted into VR headsets and steal user’s passwords. These sensitive credentials are then used to extort a “ransom,” a payment from the user, to get these credentials and the account back.

How Can You Protect Yourself in the Metaverse?

Fortunately, the Metaverse is still new. There are not many end users frequenting the spaces, and the hardware needed for widespread adoption of the technology are still under development. There’s still time for companies and other stakeholders to find ways to fill the gaps that expose end users to cybersecurity weaknesses.

Prevention is also better than cure in this case. Users, like you, need to be proactive in making sure you don’t fall to any cyberattack while using the Metaverse in the future. Don’t give away your password easily to anyone you encounter while you’re wearing the headset. Minimize also the amount of information you make available on your account, so thieves won’t have anything to steal.

There’s so much potential to unlock within the Metaverse. It’s within the best interests of the companies within the virtual world to ensure the safety of their digital citizens. Everything may be up for grabs right now within the space, but all that will change in the future.

Make sure to follow us for more informative articles about the Metaverse, and the technologies within!

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