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Securing the metaverse: enhanced protection for the future of technology

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While introducing new technologies can be exciting, companies that adopt new technologies run the risk of cyberattacks and other vulnerabilities.

This is increasingly true with the adoption of the metaverse, and organizations will need to implement a security plan that encompasses new technologies to ensure they are protected against internal and external threats. If you are considering using the Metaverse for your business, this article will help you better understand global cybercrimes and secure the Metaverse.

Global cybercrime on the rise

2021 set a record for global cyberattacks, and adoption of the metaverse is expected to drive this trend further. Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2021 Data Breach Report highlights 1,862 data breaches in 2021, surpassing both 2020’s total of 1,108 and the previous record of 1,506 set in 2017. Checkpoint Research found that there was a 50% increase in the total volume of cyberattacks suffered by businesses. last year compared to 2020, and they expect a 50% increase in cyberattacks every year to come.

The peak of the pandemic in 2020, along with the expansion of the metaverse and new virtual reality environments during the post-pandemic period, has fueled the increase in cybercrime cases over the past 2 years.

According to Checkpoint Research, the education and research sector saw the highest volume of attacks in 2021, with an average of 1,605 attacks per organization per week, up 75% from 2020. Second was the military and government sector, with 1,136 attacks per week, up 47% year-on-year. In third place is the telecommunications industry, with 1,079 attacks per week, up 51% year-over-year.

As companies consider adopting new technologies and potentially exposing themselves to vulnerabilities, it is essential to understand the risks associated with using the metaverse.

Why does the metaverse need protection?

Metaverse is a broad term encompassing a range of virtual possibilities. VentureBeat describes the Metaverse as a new and improved version of the internet that uses virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) to deliver a fully immersive online global experience.

This combination of the digital and physical worlds provides an exciting outlet for companies that want to stay competitive and at the forefront of innovation. A recent example of this is with Facebook in its rebranding to Meta.

At its heart is Meta’s social virtual reality platform, Horizon Worlds, which allows users to create personalized environments to hang out and play games as avatars. With Facebook’s massive data breach last year, the company will want to make sure it protects itself and its users with its venture into the metaverse.

As the metaverse continues to grow and expand, new risks associated with the cyberuniverse will emerge. Cyberattacks that may affect the metaverse include:

  • Malware, hacking and traditional phishing transferred to virtual environments.
  • Theft of virtual assets, including cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
  • Privacy and digital identity breaches.

New risks linked to the emergence of the metaverse also bring types of cyberattacks specific to virtual environments, such as attacks on the hardware itself. The metaverse requires a series of technological equipment to operate, such as VR glasses, which, once connected, risk becoming a new target for cyber attackers.

By gaining access to a user’s hardware, an attacker could aim to manipulate augmented reality in a scene in such a way that users are maliciously directed to a busy street or dangerous physical situations, such as unprotected spaces and isolated where they can then be broken into. Organizations like the XR Security Initiative (XRSI) are researching these risks to improve the privacy and security of immersive environments.

Attacks on digital identity and data privacy are obvious, as virtual reality technology equipment has the ability to record, store and analyze a massive volume of data about the user’s daily activities. Protecting the confidentiality of this information is another critical security aspect in the metaverse. A prime example of this can be found with deepfakes.

When users create a virtual replica of their identity and day-to-day activities in the metaverse, cyberattackers have the ability to impersonate others by stealing another subject or entity’s virtual identity.

Although the metaverse presents security risks, it also offers opportunities. Enterprises are beginning to form a new innovation ecosystem that has emerged to cover this new demand for virtual network security.

Opportunities for Securing the Metaverse

As more companies experiment with the metaverse, an increased demand for security services in the metaverse is evident.

JP Morgan predicts that the metaverse will likely infiltrate every industry in one way or another in the coming years, with an estimated market opportunity of over $1 trillion in annual revenue. There is a lack of experts to cover all of today’s cybersecurity demands, which represents a major business opportunity for companies looking to target the specific area of ​​security in virtual environments.

According to Cyber ​​Seek, there are currently 1.1 million employees working in cybersecurity in the United States. However, there are over 700,000 job openings in the cybersecurity industry, which means that only 68% of vacancies are filled.

According to a study by the Mundo Hacker Academy, 37% of current cybersecurity needs remain unmet in the European Union. This data highlights the fact that there are many opportunities globally in the cybersecurity industry, which will continue to increase with the growth of new technologies and the metaverse.

While the pandemic has brought myriad challenges, it has also accelerated the digitization of people’s lives and normalized more persistent and versatile online engagement and communication. The metaverse offers a world of opportunities for businesses and users as well as the challenge of staying protected against cyberattacks.

Figuring out cybersecurity solutions for the metaverse can be daunting, but with some research and the help of a global security leader like Prosegur Security USA, you can make the best protection decision for your business.

Mike Dunn is Chief Technology Officer at Prosegur Security USA.

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