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The Metaverse is the ‘next frontier’ for the cyber industry

The Metaverse is the ‘next frontier’ for the cyber industry

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When it comes to the Metaverse, it is crucial that security is a top priority or businesses will risk leaving themselves open to attack. Lior Arbel, CTO of Encore, discusses the importance of staying secure in the Metaverse to ensure we reap its potential of revolutionising the way we communicate and conduct business.

As new technologies emerge from the constant churn of innovation, the cybersecurity industry must continue to pivot, assess threats and protect the new environment and challenges that come with it, without the luxury of time.

When IoT was launched, for example – merging the digital and physical world in a way that hadn’t been done before – cybersecurity had to quickly determine what new threats would accompany this development. Ultimately, it resulted in the birth of an entirely new sector in the cyber industry: Operational Technology (OT) security.

Now, the convergence of our physical and digital environments has been taken that one step further.

The Metaverse is the next tech environment to hit the mainstream. As a shared virtual space, created by merging virtually enhanced physical reality and physically influenced virtual space, the Metaverse hosts an unlimited number of opportunities for both the consumer and business landscapes. However, with new opportunities comes risk – especially when we lack the true understanding of what form this new reality will take. 

This will undoubtedly become the next great challenge for the cyber industry.

Respecting the balance

The Metaverse presents exciting new opportunities on several fronts, including social interaction, business ventures and creative ways of working, all through a new platform for communication and collaboration. These avenues can also be leveraged to strengthen cybersecurity, as security professionals can use the Metaverse to conduct training simulations, share best practices and collaborate on threat intelligence.

However, this advanced dynamic landscape also introduces new vulnerabilities that need to be addressed ahead of time. The wealth of different avenues held within the Metaverse means the probability of new cyberthreats is astonishing.

When more people and organisations become reliant on the Metaverse for communication and commerce, the risk of cyberattacks will increase exponentially. We’ll rapidly witness hackers trying to exploit vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive data or disrupt operations.

By the time the Metaverse becomes a mainstream reality, if preparations aren’t made ahead of time, it will already be too late. The challenge is, it’s near impossible to secure a landscape that we can’t yet explore and when teams lack the general understanding of what the attack surface will look like.

Securing the Metaverse

If we’re to secure this new environment, we first need to fully understand the attack surface and how it will evolve, which is a real challenge. It’s a vital problem that we’re trying to solve in the current digital space, let alone within the complexities of the Metaverse.

When tackling any new cybersecurity challenge, the fundamentals are key.

Core security tactics include implementing authentication protocols, such as Multi-Factor Authentication, to prevent unauthorised access to the Metaverse through user accounts. Monitoring user activity and tracking accessed data will also become a crucial element of security team roles in the Metaverse to identify and prevent potential threats. This naturally triggers questions around data privacy which will also need to be handled correctly.

Implementing access controls also helps limit user access to specific areas of the Metaverse with sensitive data – just as businesses currently restrict access to certain network segments.

It will become vital that companies that already have a Metaverse, such as Meta and Sandbox, accept some liability for attacks. This would likely come in the same way that banks provide protection; they accept liability for stolen assets but, oftentimes, only if you haven’t compromised your own account. Therefore, businesses and individuals cannot rely on providers to deliver sufficient security – it’s down to each party alone.

As we’ve established, planning and implementing attack surface management across a network before it’s been widely adopted is an extraordinary challenge. It’s therefore worthwhile for businesses to adopt similar practices to the ones they have for existing network security. For attack surface management, on a basic level, this means monitor, analyse, mitigate, repeat.

Looking ahead

The Metaverse has the potential to revolutionise the way we communicate and conduct business, but it is important to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to protect ourselves and our organisations in this new virtual world.

Gartner predicts that 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the Metaverse by 2026. As the concept becomes a much more concrete, mainstream tool for socialising, working, entertainment and so much more, security needs to be a top priority.

Cybersecurity is about looking where the financial value lies and how people might take control of that. This will be a highly lucrative area for individuals and attackers if security isn’t prioritised.

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