While adopting new technologies can be exciting, companies adopting new technologies run the risk of cyberattacks and other vulnerabilities.
This is increasingly true with the introduction of the Metaverse, and organizations must implement a security plan that incorporates new technologies to ensure they are protected from internal and external threats. If you’re considering leveraging the Metaverse for your business, this article will help you learn more about global cybercrime and securing the Metaverse.
Global cybercrime on the rise
The year 2021 set a record for global cyberattacks, and the launch of the Metaverse is expected to spark a new surge in this trend. The Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2021 Data Breach Report highlights 1,862 data breaches in 2021, beating both the 2020 total of 1,108 and the previous record of 1,506 set in 2017. Checkpoint Research found that the total volume of cyberattacks that organizations face increased by 50% last year compared to 2020, and they expect cyberattacks to increase by 50% each year.
The peak of the pandemic in 2020, along with the expansion of the metaverse and new virtual reality environments during the post-pandemic era, has fueled the rise in cybercrime cases over the past two years.
According to Checkpoint Research, the education and research sector experienced the highest volume of attacks in 2021 with an average of 1,605 attacks per organization per week, a 75% increase over 2020. The military and government sector followed in second place with 1,136 attacks per week, up 47% year-on-year. In third place is the telecom industry with 1,079 attacks per week, up 51% year-on-year.
As organizations consider adopting new technologies and potentially exposing themselves to vulnerabilities, it is important to understand the risks associated with using the metaverse.
Why does the metaverse need protection?
The metaverse is a broad term encompassing a range of virtual possibilities. VentureBeat describes the Metaverse as a new, augmented version of the internet that leverages virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) to deliver a fully immersive online world experience.
This combination of the digital and physical world offers an exciting field of activity for companies that want to remain competitive and at the forefront of innovation. A recent example of this is the rebranding from Facebook to Meta.
Taking center stage is Meta’s social VR platform, Horizon Worlds, which allows users to create custom environments in which to hang out and play games as avatars. Given Facebook’s widespread data breach over the past year, the company will want to make sure it’s protecting itself and its users with its foray into the Metaverse.
As the metaverse continues to grow and expand, new risks associated with the cyber universe will emerge. Cyber attacks likely to affect the Metaverse include:
- Malware, hacking and traditional phishing are transferred to virtual environments.
- Theft of virtual assets, including cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
- Attacks on privacy and digital identity.
New risks related to the formation of the metaverse also bring with them types of cyberattacks unique to virtual environments, such as: B. Attacks on the hardware itself. The metaverse requires a range of technological devices such as VR glasses to function, 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 a way that maliciously directs users to a busy street or dangerous physical situations such as vulnerable and lonely places where they can later be robbed. 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 privacy are evident as virtual reality tech devices are capable of recording, storing and analyzing a vast amount of data about the user’s daily activities. Protecting the confidentiality of this information is another critical security aspect in the Metaverse. A primary example of this is deepfakes.
When users create a virtual copy of their identity and their daily activities in the Metaverse, cyber attackers gain the ability to impersonate other people by stealing the virtual identity of another subject or entity.
While the Metaverse brings security risks, it also presents opportunities. Enterprises are beginning to form a new innovation ecosystem that has emerged to meet this new demand for virtual network security.
Ways to secure 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 is likely to infiltrate every sector in some way in the coming years, with the market opportunity estimated at over $1 trillion in annual revenue. There is a lack of experts covering all of today’s cybersecurity needs, which represents a major business opportunity for companies wishing to target the specific area of security in virtual environments.
According to Cyber Seek, 1.1 million employees currently work in cybersecurity in the United States. However, there are more than 700,000 vacancies in the cybersecurity industry, which means that only 68 percent of the vacancies are filled.
According to research by the Mundo Hacker Academy, 37% of current cybersecurity needs in the European Union remain unmet. This data underscores the fact that there are numerous opportunities in the cybersecurity industry worldwide that will continue to increase as new technologies and the metaverse grow.
Although the pandemic brought with it myriad challenges, it also accelerated the digitization of people’s lives and normalized more consistent and diverse online engagement and communication. The Metaverse offers a world of opportunities for businesses and users, as well as the challenge of staying safe from cyberattacks.
Determining cybersecurity solutions for the Metaverse might be intimidating, but with a little research and the help of a global security leader like Prosegur Security USA, you can make the best protection decision for your organization.
Mike Dunn is Chief Technology Officer at Prosegur Security USA.