The Metaverse and Cybersecurity — Two Worlds Collide

CYRIN Newsletter

The Metaverse and Cybersecurity — Two Worlds Collide

The metaverse represents the idea of an immersive, next generational virtual 3D world. It promises to connect all sorts of digital environments in a digitized mimicry of the actual world we live in. While the idea of a revolutionized digital world sounds exciting, particularly with the potential to reach so many people, at any time, across the world, it has also raised several security concerns leading to that big question: How is the metaverse set to change cybersecurity in the years ahead? There may be several profound paradigm shifts in store.

But exactly what is the metaverse? The simplest description might be that the metaverse is a virtual replica of the physical world, and it will become real when people can live in that world, much the same way they currently live in the physical world.

To hear some people talk about it, the metaverse is the future of the internet, or it's a video game. Maybe it's a bad version of Zoom, with cameras that track eye and hand movements, and zero in on the speaker. It's hard to say. That's because the term doesn't really refer to any one specific type of technology, but rather to a profound shift in how we interact with technology. Broadly speaking, the technologies that make up the metaverse include virtual reality as well as augmented reality that combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds.

The metaverse also translates to a digital economy, where users can create, buy, and sell goods. In the more idealistic visions of the metaverse, it's interoperable, allowing you to take virtual items like clothes or cars from one platform to another. In the real world, you can buy a shirt from the mall and then wear it to a movie theater. Right now, most platforms have virtual identities, avatars, and inventories that are tied to just one platform, but a metaverse might allow you to create a persona that you can take everywhere – as easily as you can copy your profile picture from one social network to another. Only this goes way beyond Facebook (now Meta).

Many experts look at the metaverse as a 3D model of the internet. A place parallel to the physical world, where you spend your digital life. A place where you and other people have an avatar, and you interact with them through their avatars. This place could be as intimate or, in some cases, as dangerous as the real world.

Spend enough time having discussions about the metaverse and inevitably someone will reference fictional stories like Snow Crash—the 1992 novel that coined the term “metaverse”—or Ready Player One, which depicts a VR world where everyone works, plays, and shops.

The metaverse is the next big thing. A lot of money is being thrown at it, much like people are throwing money at AI and Machine Learning and alternative energy – whether it’s solar, batteries, storage, or nuclear (some versions of it are considered alternative). And just like alternative energy has the potential to impact the planet in ways we can’t yet imagine, the metaverse will affect the digital planet or universe in ways that we can’t yet comprehend.

Talking about the metaverse feels a lot like talking about the internet back in the 70s and 80s. As the building blocks of this new form of communication were being laid down, it sparked speculation around what it would look like and how people would use it. Everyone was talking about it, but few knew what it really meant or how it would work. Looking back, it didn’t turn out exactly as some people imagined.

Some argue that the metaverse in the truest sense of the term doesn’t exist yet, not really. But with the metaverse pegged to have a market valuation of $80 billion in related exchange trade funds by 2024, and with tech giants like Facebook (wait! Meta), Microsoft, Apple and Google investing big money in making it a reality, it’s time to determine what this vague and complex term means –and to think about how you can prepare for it.

If the metaverse is anything like our reality now, then that means when we create it, we’re going to drag into it all the security problems we have in the physical world as well as those in the existing cyber world. Every company or government entity that has wrestled with security knows there are people who will steal your money, your identity, your security, your privacy – essentially, your life. In the digital world, it’s more difficult to identify the bad actors than it is in the physical world. The technology and the players are much more difficult to track – whether it’s fake avatars, fake crypto-currency, the lack of a central authority in charge of money, or anonymous identities. And with less ability to track and trace, it’s easier for the “bad guys” to hide. In other words, things will get more difficult in the metaverse.

So how does cyber community deal with these new issues? How can you prepare for something that doesn’t quite exist yet, but is coming? It’s like bracing for a comet to impact the earth, and everyone is scrambling to build solutions.

Since cyberattacks and frauds have already started to occur, it is possible to predict scenarios like:

What is probably most concerning, however, is that the metaverse is built through blockchain technology. While this technology is secure, it is not entirely immune to vulnerabilities. Moreover, it is decentralized, with no designated admin or moderator to keep charge or control. With such an absence of authority, there will be no possible way to retrieve stolen or illegally obtained assets. And because the metaverse will operate through avatars, there will be no concrete method to identify cybercriminals. Anyone can dupe the digital landscape, as evident over the dark web.

So, what can you do? Here are a few ideas about implementing cybersecurity in the era of the metaverse, as it builds and when it finally arrives.

Since the metaverse will bring with it a hoard of cybersecurity issues, there will be a crucial need to implement strict cybersecurity measures and protocols. For starters, there will be an urgent need to ensure stronger endpoint security through various tools like VPNs, proxies, and antimalware software. It is crucial that things don’t stop there. Many organizations will also need to prepare ahead and implement the use of theta hunting, penetration testing, and vulnerability scans to ensure their security systems are safe, secure, and uncompromising.

Although the metaverse is a genuinely remarkable concept and could help the world in several profound ways, it is crucial to realize that it might all fail if the cybersecurity aspect is ignored.

How Can CYRIN Help?

The evidence is in. It’s time to prepare for the metaverse. In some way, shape or fashion, it’s coming. It’s time to practice and shore up your defenses in the real world, before they hit the virtual world. CYRIN can help. Our eLearning platform is a simple to use web-based training system that has provided comprehensive training to people in charge of the most sensitive networks in the world — America’s military and first responders. We have some of the best content including skills development labs, individual or team exercises, and multiple cyber-attack scenarios.

CYRIN, in a virtual environment, is as close to a real-world experience as you can get. We create real-life scenarios to help your team, your learners and your company be prepared and protected – for whatever comes next. To see what we can do for your team, contact us for further information and your personalized demonstration of CYRIN.

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