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The metaverse has quickly grown from a much-discussed concept to a threatening reality. The idea, first made in a science fiction novel, will dominate the world and revolutionize the way businesses, organizations and the entire Internet are run.
The metaverse is described as a three-dimensional virtual platform for social interactions between users and their virtual environment. While the idea of the metaverse has undoubtedly been received with enthusiasm, the rise of the metaverse has also become a source of speculation and concern.
Since the metaverse is a social platform that uses interactive technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and machine learning, privacy advocates are questioning the stance on privacy and security. An increasing concern that has taken shape with the rise of the metaverse is the likely impact it will have on data privacy and security.
The re-emergence of the metaverse that we are now seeing rapidly becoming a part of the world has long been an integral part of the gaming community. Games like Second Life, Pokemon Go, and Minecraft have existed as virtual platforms for social interactions.
The security issues evident in metaverses such as Second Life and Minecraft are likely to plague the metaverse on a much larger scale as well. Second Life founder Philip Rosedale, along with many other security experts, has spoken out about the impact of Meta on data privacy. However, since the core concept is the same, it is possible to determine the potential data privacy issues that may arise within Meta.
A major concern among all privacy advocates is the business model of Meta’s parent company, Facebook. It’s no secret that Facebook is one of the most prominent collectors and collectors of personal user information. The business model is based on advanced behavioral targeting ads with a lot of monitoring and personal information collection. Therefore, since Meta is promised to be a virtual platform, allowing users to live a visual life within, the possibility of data collection and monitoring within it is likely to increase.
What makes things particularly dire is that the metaverse is set up to function through virtual reality, augmented reality, machine learning, and AI technology. Since these are behavior learning technologies, they collect huge amounts of personal information, threatening the privacy of users. Therefore, the use of such technologies within Meta poses a significant data privacy risk given the parent company’s business model.
Privacy and security concerns have been part of the metaverse ever since Facebook introduced the idea. The problem predominates because Facebook has yet to provide the robust cybersecurity infrastructure it designed for the metaverse.
A survey reveals how people are concerned about the impact of the metaverse on their privacy. Of those surveyed, 50% are concerned about user identity issues, 47% are concerned about enforced surveillance users face, and 45% are concerned about potential misuse of personal information. Some of the possible ways that the metaverse can affect user data privacy are as follows:
Rise in phishing attacks, especially after the rise of phishing-as-a-service. These attacks can take the form of malicious contracts designed to steal user information. Vulnerable AR/VR devices are becoming the gateway to malware invasions and data breaches. A problem that is already common with VR glasses. The lack of legal documentation protecting the user’s identity. The use of avatars creates the idea of virtual identities that hackers can easily steal. Advertisers will collect user information through avatars that collect personal information, as was previously apparent in Second Life. As the metaverse will mimic reality, it will likely collect tons of personal information, including brainwaves, biometrics, health information, preferences, and more.
With the presence of privacy concerns, there is a possibility that users may be hesitant to adopt the metaverse. The only possible way netizens might consider using the metaverse is through the use of security tools such as VPNs, antivirus software, phishing protections, etc.
Is there a way to allay these concerns?
Since the metaverse hasn’t appeared properly yet, little can be said about how to fix these issues. Until now, people have pinned their hopes on Zuckerberg himself. He could build a robust cybersecurity infrastructure for the metaverse and introduce methods to ensure data privacy and security. However, given the privacy issues circulating around the idea, there are a few ways that users, whether organizations or individual netizens, can ensure the privacy and security of data within the metaverse.
Since the collection of personal information and surveillance is not something that anyone other than Facebook can control, organizations can regulate the use of such information. Any organization setting up virtual offices within the metaverse must have strict data privacy and security policies. The users must determine the amount of personal information they want to share.
Apart from that, organizations deploying the use of AR/VR devices or platforms must ensure that the risks of hacking attacks, data breaches and other hostile attacks are strictly controlled. Likewise, these organizations will also need to anticipate hostile AI attacks and enable their security.
Likewise, individual users who become part of the metaverse must remain vigilant about the amount and type of information they share. In addition, it is critical that they use online security tools designed to protect users from privacy breaches and data breaches.
Data privacy and security have long been a concern and concern for everyone worldwide. The proliferation of cyber-attacks is a problem that privacy and security advocates are trying to mitigate. Amid this, the rise of the metaverse, while revolutionizing technology, can also pose a threat to data privacy. However, with the development potential it offers, addressing the issue of data privacy and security within the metaverse is critical.
Shigraf Aijaz is a cybersecurity journalist at beencrypted.com and privacycrypts.com.
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This post How can we reduce the potential threat to data privacy in the metaverse?
was original published at “https://venturebeat.com/2022/04/12/how-we-can-mitigate-the-potential-threat-to-data-privacy-in-the-metaverse/”