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Securing The Metaverse: Cyber Security In The Age Of Virtual Living

Ever since Facebook announced that it would be changing its name to ‘Meta’ and shifting its focus onto the wonderful world of the metaverse, it has become a hot topic in a wide variety of industries. Some have dubbed the metaverse “the future of the internet”, but what exactly is it?

Well, put simply, the metaverse is a 3D, immersive version of the world wide web that could be accessed via a VR headset or your browser. This is a world in which users can explore their surroundings via a digital avatar.

The metaverse has been around as an idea for a while now – the term was first coined by the science-fiction author Neal Stephenson, in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. The idea has regularly appeared in books and films since then, from The Matrix to Ready Player One, but in recent years, it’s become a reality. Last year saw over $120 billion (£97.7 billion) invested in the metaverse, and it’s set to keep growing. The metaverse has the potential to transform our daily lives, but all that investment is likely to attract cyber criminals, so anyone looking to join the metaverse needs to take a closer look at their cyber defences.

How Will The Metaverse Impact Cyber Security?

The metaverse promises to be the next iteration of the internet. It could soon be the place we all go to do everything from working and shopping to hanging out with friends – all without leaving the house. When Mark Zuckerberg first announced that his company would become metaverse-first, he said that he believed it “will be mainstream in the next 5 to 10 years.”

Device Hacking – To get the most out of the metaverse, users will need new technology, from VR headsets and haptic gloves to AR (augmented reality) glasses. This dependence on hardware could be bad news for the organisations behind the metaverse – and even worse news for its users. Each different piece of hardware is a potential entry point for hackers, giving them another way to access your network. Both AR and VR devices would also provide hackers with information on what users are doing and where they are in real time – far more than they’d get if they’d simply hacked into a social media account. Exploring the metaverse via company devices could put these devices, and the vital data they have access to, at significant risk. With many high-profile organisations already choosing to ban TikTok from company devices due to privacy concerns, it is extremely likely that metaverse activity will also be limited by many businesses in the near future.

Identity Theft – Identity theft is already a problem online, but the metaverse could take it to a whole new level. VR headsets could be integrated with facial recognition or biometric technology to help you log on quicker, and in the metaverse, everything you do online would likely be linked to your digital identity. Cyber criminals would be able to create a digital copy of anyone in the metaverse, then access everything from their finances to confidential files from their workplace. A scary thought for CISOs!

As well as biometric information, these wearable devices could also contain sensitive data that neither users nor their employers would want falling into the wrong hands – like detailed information on their health and wellbeing. Last year, a UAE-based healthcare company announced plans to launch the world’s first metaverse hospital , a hospital that users would be able to visit from anywhere in the world. Other virtual hospitals are likely to follow suit, and if they don’t strengthen their cyber defences, users’ medical records could be left vulnerable to attack.

Eavesdropping – One of the biggest dangers of the rising metaverse, and something that can be done relatively easily, is eavesdropping. As well as listening in on private calls and meetings through AR and VR headsets, attackers could also attempt invisible-avatar eavesdropping (also known as a ‘man in the room’ attack). By entering a meeting hosted on the metaverse with an invisible avatar, hackers can easily listen in to and even record the sharing of sensitive information without being detected by others in the virtual room. These kinds of attacks haven’t happened yet, but they could soon, as cyber criminals are known to be working on ways to remain undetectable in the metaverse. If they do, they’d be able to spy on workplace meetings metaverse-wide, opening up a whole new era of corporate espionage.

Preparing Your Cyber Security Strategy For The Rise Of The Metaverse: Our Advice

The metaverse is coming, so there’s no point in burying your head in the sand. Businesses and organisations need to start preparing their cybersecurity strategies for the metaverse now. Here are our top three tips to help you get started with your metaverse-first security strategy.

1 – Do your research – The best way to prepare for the rise of the metaverse is simply to understand it. Business leaders and cybersecurity professionals alike need to read up on the metaverse and all the cyber risks it entails, so they know where their vulnerabilities lie, and what they need to do to protect themselves. Take a look at your competitors, too, and see what preparations they’ve already made (if any!).

2 – Educate your employees – You already know that one of the best ways to reduce your risk of a cybersecurity attack is to ensure your employees understand the threats they’re under. So, why not add metaverse-specific best practices to your next cybersecurity session or internal communication?

3 – Identify all possible vulnerabilities – Before you or your business dip your toes in the metaverse, we recommend creating a detailed list of any vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cyber criminals once you’re in. Think about the vulnerabilities we explored earlier in this blog, alongside more conventional risks like phishing or malware attacks. Once the list has been created, you can address these issues one by one through a thorough metaverse security strategy. Then, create a schedule to regularly revisit the list and check up on your identitified weaknesses.

The metaverse may be a few years from achieving its full potential, but today’s cybersecurity professionals can’t afford to wait around and see what happens. They need to prepare for the rise of the metaverse before it’s too late.

While it could change the way we live our lives for the better, the metaverse will also bring a whole host of new cyber risks that will need to be addressed.

Are you looking to take your first steps into the metaverse? Or just find out more about strengthening your cyber defences? You’re in luck! With a team of cyber security experts located across the globe and a range of services to suit any business, we can help you prepare for whatever the metaverse might throw at you.

Whether you’re looking for help assessing your organisation’s vulnerabilities, or the development and implementation of a full-blown cyber security strategy (with the ongoing support required to keep it going), we’ve got it all.

Get in touch, with us to find out more or get started.

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The Impact Of Web3 On Cyber Security

A term that is surrounded by controversy, with some crowning it “the evolution of the internet” and others labelling it “a myth” and “a marketing buzzword”, there’s no doubt that the concept of Web3 has got people talking.

Since the world wide web was first invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, its centralised approach has helped to build and maintain the stable infrastructure we have come to expect from it. However, this approach has also allowed a number of large technology companies to make the majority of the decisions surrounding the web, creating a monopoly that we are beginning to grow out of.

Rooted in the concept of decentralisation, Web3 is the answer to this monopoly. Built, operated and owned by its users, Web3 puts the power in the hands of the many, rather than the few.

What Is Web3?

Web3 is the all-encompassing term used to describe the next evolution of the internet. It comes as the third generation of the world wide web and follows Web1 and Web2:

• Web1 (1990-2004) was a version of the world wide web that was entirely read-only. Users could view static websites owned by companies but could rarely interact with or produce content themselves.

• Web2 (2004 onwards) is the version of the world wide web we are familiar with today. Alongside organisations sharing content online, users can also generate their own content and interact with content shared by companies and other users. This version of the web also allowed brands to advertise online, creating monetisation opportunities for website and content owners.

• Web3 (TBC) is a version of the world wide web that utilises blockchains, cryptocurrencies and NFTs to allow users more ownership over the web. According to etherium, there are four key principles that broadly define Web3: it is decentralised, permissionless, trustless, and uses native payments through cryptocurrency.

The Benefits of Web3

Web3 brings with it many potential benefits over the version of the web we’re all used to (Web2). Here are just a few of them:

 With no single central point of control, Web3 will make it far more difficult for threat actors to gain access to or control over data and devices connected to the web. This will allow for increased security.

 With fewer intermediaries required and more open access to technology and information, the advent of Web3 may also lead to reduced costs for both businesses and users.

 With encryption as the default for all communications, Web3 will likely mean increased privacy for its users.

 With fewer middlemen, users can benefit from greater control over the data and communications they share and receive with Web3.

 Decentralised, accessible and interoperable data will increase the amount and quality of data available to developers, allowing them to develop better models of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) – two hallmarks of today’s technological developments.

 Finally, the use of blockchain will allow the implementation of ‘smart contracts’, automated processes through which an action can be triggered automatically when a predetermined condition is met. This could reduce the need for manual labour in a variety of areas, from marketing and advertising to cyber security.

The Risks of Web3

Alongside the benefits proposed by Web3, there are also several potential risks associated with this new version of the web. These are highlighted below:

 With no central authority in control of the web, there is also no individual or organisation accountable for its maintenance. If not properly addressed, this lack of accountability could lead to poor user privacy, a lack of data protection and insufficient integrity of information.

 The lack of centralised data associated with Web3 may also make it difficult for organisations in particular to make properly informed decisions. With data spread out across various locations, there is no single “source of truth” upon which businesses can base their actions, making strategic analysis far more difficult.

 Although it is widely considered a much safer approach to storing and sharing data, there are some vulnerabilities associated with the use of blockchain. These vulnerabilities can lead to four key types of attack: 51% attacksrouting attackssybil attacks and the well-known phishing attacks.

Although web3 is not yet fully in operation, there is one thing for sure: it’s coming. And, with this knowledge in hand, the best thing we can do is prepare ourselves (and our cyber defences) for its arrival.

Are you interested in preparing your organisation’s cyber security strategy for the introduction of Web3? With a team of experienced cyber experts at hand, Infosec K2K can help your business in a variety of ways, from security assessments and strategic consultancy to ongoing managed service packages.

Whatever resources and/or capabilities you need, the Infosec K2K team are the perfect partner to bolster your ranks and ensure your organisation is as safe as can be in the advent of Web3.

Fill out the form here, or send us an email at [email protected] to find out more.