Fri. Nov 25th, 2022

There will always be new and old cyberattacks that find their way into the metaverse, highlighting the necessity for immersive virtual worlds to provide strong security from the start. This is why

According to cybersecurity experts and researchers, securing the metaverse will pose new challenges compared to existing digital platforms. Monitoring the metaverse will be “more difficult” than on current systems because of this, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of security, compliance and identity Vasu Jakkal said in an interview. As a leading proponent of the metaverse, Microsoft is developing immersive virtual platforms for both businesses and consumers.

“There will be an explosion of devices in the metaverse. Infrastructural development is going to skyrocket. According to Jakkal, “You’re going to have an explosion of apps and data.” As a result, your “attack surface” has increased by a factor of 100.

If metaverse platforms fall short in terms of security and privacy, they’re almost certain to experience a false start—or worse, experts say. If metaverse platforms focus on security and privacy first, they may gain more traction in the long run.

As a former Zynga security manager, Caroline Wong understands the importance of brand and trust. She is now the CEO of Cobalt, a cyber security firm. Platform A, which the consumer believes to be secure and private and doing all the right things, versus Platform B, which they believe will almost certainly lead to hacking if they join, is the clear choice.”

While the new virtual world will undoubtedly provide users with “beautiful experiences,” Jakkal asserted that the metaverse’s success depends on acknowledging and addressing the cybersecurity challenge.

“Security should not be an afterthought, according to my wish list. As she put it, “security must be built into the metaverse [from the ground up].” “This is our only chance to get it right.”

Known and Unknowns in the Metaverse

In the metaverse, it’s not yet clear how the attack surface will look. However, experts told VentureBeat that we can still learn a lot about the virtual world’s potential security threats. As attackers take advantage of opportunities for fraud, theft, and disruption on metaverse platforms, existing web, application, and identity security issues are expected to arise quickly.

While this is happening, researchers have identified malicious cyber activity that is only possible in an immersive virtual setting, such as invisible eavesdropping and manipulating users into actual physical harm.

Cybersecurity for “extended reality” platforms like the upcoming metaverse, according to former Linden Lab information security director Kavya Pearlman, is a different storey. She is the founder and CEO of the non-profit Extended Reality Safety Initiative (XRSI), which is dedicated to the protection of users’ privacy and security in virtual worlds.

For the greater good, use this technology.” Even though it can be used to harm humanity, “Pearlman said.

For 2D digital platforms, “the attack surface has been limited to nodes, networks, and servers,” according to her comments on the subject. As a result of the metaverse, “the attack surface is now our brain,”

Virtual worlds need to be protected

Virtual reality (VR) headsets and platforms like Second Life have been around for a long time, while online games like Fortnite and Roblox have grown into their own virtual universes. However, in terms of the metaverse, the year 2021 was a watershed moment. Many of the biggest names in the tech industry backed the idea in 2021, including Microsoft, Nvidia, and Facebook, which rebranded as Meta in the process. Immersive virtual experiences are no longer just a science fiction concept. They are now a real possibility.

For now, it’s not clear how interoperable the various virtual universes might be with each other. Despite this, a number of cybersecurity experts told VentureBeat that now is the right time to start thinking about the metaverse’s cybersecurity implications. And it’s important to start with the dangers that are already known.

It’s important to understand that in order to secure the metaverse, we must first address the issues that exist in the current digital landscape, according to former Facebook Oculus virtual reality security chief Josh Yavor.

Yavor, who is currently Tessian’s chief information security officer, said, “None of those problems go away.” “Perhaps there are new issues to deal with.” There is no escape from our current or past problems in the metaverse, however. We have to deal with those issues because they are a part of who we are.

Opportunistic attackers will follow the money into the metaverse, given the metaverse’s potential to support a wide range of economic activity. Cybersecurity experts predict that it will draw a wide range of criminals, from standard scammers to those looking to steal cryptocurrency or virtual goods, to those motivated by ransomware.

A social engineering attack aimed at obtaining personal information will be as common in the metaverse as it is today. Fraudulent avatars in virtual worlds may raise the stakes of impersonation attempts even further. When a person acquires access to your metaverse account and assumes your avatar, that person could theoretically “become you” in the metaverse, experts say.

Pay attention to the safety of your personal information

IDC’s Frank Dickson, programme vice president for security and trust, says that strong identity security should be a top concern for metaverse builders. The ability to conduct transactions in the metaverse will necessitate robust and continuous identity authentication. This may be a problem, Dickson said, due to their immersive nature. Typical multifactor authentication (MFA) methods won’t always work for your application.

We need more than just a Master of Fine Arts (MFA).” To enter a six-digit code into the metaverse, “you’re not going to want to stop, pull out your phone, and type it in.” Since that authentication must be invisible and seamless, but without sacrificing security, we’ll need to do that.

One benefit of using blockchain-based distributed computing for the metaverse is the increased level of security it offers. Decentralized identity data storage on the blockchain is increasingly being viewed as a solution to identity security. Tom Sego, founder and CEO of cyber firm BlastWave, says that blockchain is far more resistant to cyberattacks than centralised infrastructure.

As he noted, blockchain can’t address the human element that lies at the heart of threats like social engineering. Exploitation of vulnerable metaverse platform web services is expected to be a major issue in future attacks. Virtual applications will be vulnerable to zero-day attacks such as cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection (SQL injection), and web shells (web shells).

According to Kevin Bocek, vice president of security strategy at Venafi, one of the most significant future metaverse security risks could be compromised machine identities and API transactions. However, “old-fashioned crime” such as fraud, scams, and even robberies can be expected, according to Bocek, who predicted a rise in crime.

In the metaverse, he said, “I don’t know what muggings look like—but muggings will probably happen.” “We’re human, and the threats that deal with us are the ones that are most likely to arise first.”

Constant threats

As well as dealing with malicious attacks, metaverse creators will have to contend with a variety of other types of dangers that plague digital platforms year after year. Consider the issue of safeguarding minors against exposure to explicit material.

“Pornography was a driving force behind the internet’s early days. In the metaverse, what do you think is going to happen? Dickson, from IDC, made the following statement. You’re in luck if you’re into that sort of thing. The metaverse, on the other hand, should not be open to our young children.

However, if the history of social media is any guide, harassment will be a major issue in the metaverse, and it must be addressed. In addition, factors in the virtual environment could complicate the issue.

To “get someone out of your face” in virtual reality is difficult, Yavor said. “There’s no way to put your arm out and keep them at arm’s length, and you have no sense of bodily autonomy.” What are our options here?”

As with many other real-world issues, this one must be addressed “sufficiently” in the metaverse for it to be a “satisfactory experience for people,” he explained.

In other words, while some threats to metaverse users will be familiar, others will have new complexities and the potential for greater impact.

Hazard to Health and Safety

A number of new security threats in the metaverse environment can also be predicted, some of which could have real-world, physical consequences, according to researchers.

Virtual environments have a major impact on attackers, victims, and defenders according to researchers. A “cyberattack isn’t necessarily malicious code,” according to XRSI’s Pearlman in the metaverse. “It could be an exploit that disables your safety boundary.”

Researchers like University of New Haven computer science professor and XRSI board member Ibrahim Baggili have spent years looking into the dangers that extended reality platforms may pose to their users. Baggili wrote in an email that he and his colleagues discovered that “the security and privacy risks are huge.”

There are screens in front of us right now. We feel like we’re in the metaverse because the screens are so close to our eyes, the narrator said. In other words, “if we can control the environment that someone is in, we can control the person who is in that environment.”

Baggili and other University of New Haven researchers have discovered a new type of attack they call a “human joystick.” This year, researchers published a paper in which they describe how virtual reality systems can be used to “control immersed users and move them to a physical location in physical space without their knowledge.”

In the event of a malicious attack of this type, the “chances of physical harm are heightened,” Baggili told VentureBeat.

The “chaperone attack,” which involves altering the virtual environment boundaries of a user, is another related threat discovered by the researchers. According to the researchers, this could also be used to harm a user physically.

XRSI and other XR security researchers, says Cobalt’s Wong, “completely take over” what you can see and hear in these immersive experiences. “The whole point of these immersive experiences is that they completely take over” It’s possible that someone could trick you into falling down a set of stairs, exiting a door, or walking into a fireplace if that’s under their control.”

Researchers at the University of New Haven have also identified a “overlay attack” (which displays unwanted content on a user’s view) and a “disorientation attack” (which confuses or disorients a user).

Surveillance Of the Metaverse

It’s a different kind of attack, but it has the potential to have serious consequences, researchers at the university call the “man-in-the-room attack.” In a virtual reality application, researchers discovered that they could listen in on other users without their permission or knowledge. Even if an attacker is invisible, he or she may be listening in on your every wordland movement, Baggili said.

You can bet that state-sponsored threat actors are looking into the metaverse’s potential for spying as well.

In order to carry out any of these attacks, you must first find a way to exploit a flaw. However, the researchers in each case reported that they were able to pull it off.

As a proof of concept, Baggili said, the attacks we depicted in our research are meant to demonstrate that these issues exist. However, he believes that more research is needed in the future to determine how these platforms can be developed “responsibly” in terms of security and safety.

Security issues with AR technologies, which are expected to play a significant role in the metaverse as well, have been the focus of other researchers. Virtual reality (VR) technologies may “explicitly interface” with the human body and brain, according to researchers Franziska Roesner and Tadayoshi Kohno in a 2021 paper at the University of Washington.

Because of AR’s immersive nature, adversarial applications may be able to alter a user’s thoughts, memories or physical state, the study’s authors speculated. A lot more research is needed before we can know for sure what the risks and benefits are of augmented reality technologies, neuroscience, security, and privacy.

Messages in the virtual world

Other fundamental aspects of the metaverse’s security must be addressed as well. One is that the user interface must be carefully considered. Tessian’s Yavor said that many of the current digital security and privacy measures “do not exist” in a metaverse. “In fact, the metaverse’s purpose is to eliminate them.”

One example is the web browser. It is possible for your browser to flag a site that you recently visited as potentially dangerous. However, there is no such thing in virtual reality.

In Yavor’s view, this raises an important question:

When it comes to making security decisions in the metaverse, “how do you give people the necessary context?”

In addition, when is it safe to interrupt a user who is physically moving to inform them that they need to make a critical decision for their security? ‘ A pop-up while playing Beat Saber in VR can knock you off your feet and even cause injury, according to Yavor.

The technical aspects of information security, he said, are probably easier than these questions. At Oculus, “how do we protect people without becoming too much of a custodian or an overbearing parent?” was the most difficult challenge for him.

If you’re a developer of a metaverse, you’ll need to find an appropriate balance between protecting users and empowering them to make risk-informed decisions on their own. It isn’t difficult to do the technical side of things, as well,” Yavor said. “The incredibly difficult part is the design and the experience for the user.”

What Meta has to say about it

CEO Mark Zuckerberg did not specifically mention cybersecurity concerns in the late-October presentation that unveiled Meta and the company’s vision for the metaverse. And while privacy and safety were mentioned, he emphasised the importance of these issues in building the metaverse in a responsible way. According to Zuckerberg, “meta is designing for safety and privacy and inclusion, even before the products exist.” These “fundamental building blocks” for metaverse platforms, he continued.

Every person building for the metaverse needs to start with a clean slate, he said. For me, this is an important lesson that I’ve learned over the last five years: the importance of emphasising these principles right from the start.

It has been revealed that Meta has begun discussing the metaverse years before its full realisation because the need to address issues is one of the primary reasons for the company’s discussion of security, privacy, and safety in metaspace.

In order to ensure that any terms of use, privacy controls, or safety features are appropriate for the new technologies and effective in keeping people safe, a Meta spokesperson said in the statement, which had previously been shared with other media outlets. “No single company will be able to do this alone.” To get it right, collaboration across industries, with experts, governments, and regulators will be necessary.

A View From Microsoft

One of Microsoft’s aims is to create a “entirely new platform layer, which is the metaverse.” Nadella made the announcement in early November. Microsoft’s vision for the metaverse incorporates many of the company’s technologies, including Azure, Teams, and the Mesh virtual environment.

Microsoft’s metaverse offerings will also benefit from all of the company’s existing security technologies, including cloud security capabilities, threat protection, and identity and access management, Jakkal stated. This metaverse is going to need all of those basic building blocks, she believes. All virtual world developers should focus on building trust in the security, privacy and safety of metaverse platforms, Jakkal said.

“And it needs to be well-thought-out and well-rounded right from the start. When it comes to creating the metaverse, “trust is going to be more important to me than anything else,” she stated. This is critical, or we’ll run into a slew of problems down the road—and no one will bother to use the metaverse.” I wouldn’t be able to use the metaverse if it didn’t have a foundation of trust.”

According to Jakkal, given the scope of the problem, securing the metaverse will necessitate collaboration among many different stakeholders. As she put it, “We need to bring security into the metaverse.”

Efforts are under way

Some companies in the industry are already preparing to assist in the safe operation of the metaverse. According to Accenture’s senior managing director David Treat, the company has already begun developing critical security functionality for metaverse platforms. For instance, the company is developing a mechanism to enable two avatars to securely exchange “tokens,” which could be either identity credentials or units of value, without taking a headset off, he said.

The CEO of Accenture’s tech incubation group, which includes its blockchain and extended reality businesses, says that “we invest heavily in R&D to ensure that we know how to make these things work for our clients,” he says.

This is one of the ways in which the metaverse will be so powerfully supported by blockchain technology. By helping to enable new digitally native identity constructs as the metaverse evolves from disparate communities into an interoperable virtual world, Treat claims that blockchain will help.

In a digital world, “we’ll have to rethink authentication,” he said. You may or may not choose to reveal your true identity if you are meeting people socially. Treat predicted that blockchain would make it possible to securely share or withhold personal identifying information.

A new perspective

Finally, securing the metaverse will not only raise new problems, but it will exacerbate existing problems. According to Pearlman, the metaverse will necessitate the creation of massive amounts of data that will need to be monitored in order to detect attacks and protect users. In the past, Pearlman has advised Facebook on third-party security risks. To deal with cyberattacks in the metaverse, we’ll need a new way of thinking.

Experts, on the other hand, say that it is absolutely necessary

“We have to be able to establish trust in the content, the safety of the platform, and the people that we’re interacting with,” Yavor said, “in order for us to actually have secure experiences in the metaverse.” It is essential that we provide the same level of security and privacy in virtual reality as in the real world.”

Wong, however, believes that there is a reason to be optimistic. Part of the reason for this, she explained, is due to how long the gaming industry has before the metaverse is ready for prime time.

“There is absolutely potential to create new economies and to connect people in beautiful and meaningful ways” with the metaverse, said Wong in his speech. “I believe that addressing security and privacy concerns will be an important part of achieving success.” Jakkal concurred. For businesses and their employees, she hopes that the metaverse will bring “beautiful experiences,” she said. We must, however, be safe if we are to do good.

By Adam

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