Cybersecurity Threats in the Metaverse

Metaverse cybersecurity is in flux. The dangers of the metaverse are as many — if not more — than traditional cyber attacks. Hackers are constantly innovating, and every new tech is a puzzle for them to try and crack.

Each threat needs novel tactics to keep digital citizens safe. The metaverse is still in its infancy, meaning it’s in a vulnerable life stage. Metaverse travelers and cybersecurity analysts must stay on top of these trends to keep security standards high and safety precautions proactive.

1. Lack of Moderators for Asset Theft

NFTs and cryptocurrency are staples of the metaverse — and they have cybersecurity concerns despite being surrounded by the previously indestructible blockchain technology. Many metaverse visitors have digital assets hackers want to steal. Traditional attack measures like ransomware can encrypt and hold valuable NFTs, jeopardizing users.

If this happens, end users need more resources to request help. Threat actors know they can exploit these money-making opportunities because of a lack of law enforcement and speedy service responses. Even if there were enforcement, it would be a juggle to distribute it through all the uniquely generated content and millions of users wandering the landscapes. The apparent solution is issuing task forces and specifically trained, unified support staff to address these concerns.

2. Financial Fraud and Money Laundering

Countless significant brands are setting up shop in the metaverse. E-commerce is massive, and naive users might unintentionally throw their money to hackers posing as legitimate outfits or intercepting transactions. Metaverse e-commerce could amount to over $2 trillion by 2030. When most of the environment relies on cryptocurrency, hiding suspicious financial activity is easy.

Mitigating these threats requires mandates and strict codes of conduct. Many of the metaverse’s cybersecurity concerns could decrease with safety standards and legislation. The metaverse and cryptocurrency will need unique laws to govern each realm, but they must happen in tandem.

Assets are not insured and won’t be until consumers and companies fight for them. Without considering how inherent they are to each other, there could be gaps in laws that could make security worse over time. Though decentralization is crypto’s primary draw, some centralization may be necessary for safety.

3. Data Privacy and Identity Theft

Every digital environment and account requires consumer data. The metaverse might collect more than most, including names and credit card numbers. Social security numbers might enter the picture depending on whether someone’s employment or investments are in the metaverse. What happens when government officials or utility providers have offices in the metaverse?

The more information that exists, the greater the surface area for threat actors, risking identities and creating deepfakes. Hackers could use traditional methods to isolate valuable data or use social engineering tactics to manipulate users into helping them execute illegal activity — for a price. Metaverse companies might even collect and sell data without explicit permission from users, which is why discourse is essential.

It’s particularly vital to do this because some even tout privacy in the metaverse isn’t possible at all. The conversations people have around these topics could generate more ideas.

Spreading awareness and increasing educational opportunities about data privacy and safe metaverse communications is crucial to prevent the unintended relinquishing of data. These include promoting secure login and authentication practices to protect identities, and making terms and conditions transparent and accessible. Some nations have data regulations like the GDPR in Europe, but what about everywhere else? What rights do people have?

4. AR, VR and MR Attacks

Augmented (AR), virtual (VR) and mixed realities are the cornerstones behind metaverse immersion. These have had time to become more secure, but hackers are still finding ways to hijack even the most well-known brands. They have immense memory stores, geolocation and data collection capabilities, giving threat actors numerous options to manipulate and discover vulnerabilities and victims.

People using these technologies shouldn’t have to rely on the makers for security only, especially when it comes to digital properties individuals or businesses own that should be safe spaces. There should be third parties and governments reviewing these intimate tools that literally and figuratively get perspectives on people’s lives and expose them to marketing materials.

How are responsibility and accountability regulated to keep metaverse communities safe from threat actors that should otherwise get banned, whether meeting through a VR experience or targeting users with malicious, ransomware-laden AR ads?

5. The Darkverse

The darkverse is the dark web of the metaverse — undetected and unindexed in the deep web. Instead of being a faceless entity with an undiscoverable browser, darkverse treaders use avatars to execute illicit transactions or deals.

Having a virtual meeting place for these activities opens more opportunities for more curated and involved metaverse cybersecurity concerns. It’s like an in-person meeting house to discuss distributed denial-of-service attacks or phishing campaigns inside and outside the metaverse.

Experts can dig deep to find these regions and eliminate them — if they can find them. More cybersecurity analysts should get specialized training on detecting these regions or train on tools that can automate some of these processes, like machine learning algorithms. Additionally, companies must invest in research to create new tools for breaking down the darkverse’s sturdy walls.

Metaverse Cybersecurity Must Progress

The dangers of the metaverse are manageable with proactive conversations and more widespread education. Not just analysts need the info — every user entering the metaverse must know how to stay guarded against cyberthreats.

Without these actions, the metaverse’s reputation and potential will get lost in the digital ether. Instead, individuals and organizations that want to see it flourish as a tool for connection and good should join forces for more robust cyber defenses.