Is Metaverse a ticking technology bomb?

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Is Metaverse a ticking technology bomb?
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  • Metaverse has many benefits but it also has several issues that need to be sorted.
  • In the Metaverse world, ransomware could turn out to be one of the biggest threats.
  • No one knows where the Metaverse game is heading, but it truly represents a paradigm shift, on par with the introduction of the World Wide Web and the rise of social media.
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Metaverse refers to the combination of virtual and augmented reality, which is frequently referred to as "extended reality." The ability to be represented by one or more avatars that can exist across platforms is one of the many implications of the Metaverse. Its widespread adoption for enterprises is proven by data - Meta Platforms, formerly Facebook, recorded a whopping $ 118 bn in revenue in 2021. However, enterprises need to be wary of some intrinsic issues associated with this new technology.

Is Metaverse the Pandora's box of digital trouble?

The Metaverse can be beneficial in many respects, while also raising many issues. Here is a list of some of the biggest dangers posed by the Metaverse:

  • Identity theft: In the real world, identity theft is already a multibillion-dollar industry - a report published recently estimated losses from identity theft at $24 billion in 2021 in the US. Many experts are worried that if rigorous security measures are not adopted, identity theft in the Metaverse may become even more easier.
  • Unauthorised data collection: Virtual reality has the potential to push unauthorised data collection to a level that may be beyond user expectations.
  • Ransomware attacks: In the Metaverse world, ransomware could turn out to be one of the biggest threats as one's Metaverse profile tends to have a lot more information than any regular social media profile, including highly sensitive data.
  • Changing the way people view the real world: Stanford University researchers have concluded that both virtual reality and augmented reality, two of the foundations of the Metaverse world, can influence how individuals see the real world. This could turn out to be a huge risk in the future.
  • Harassment and cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is a severe menace to teenagers and young adults even today, and Metaverse will only worsen this situation. The Metaverse experience will seem as real as the physical world. Hence, pain and suffering will likewise be real and profound.
  • Mental health impact: Malicious people in the Metaverse world may hypothetically insert visuals that may cause motion sickness or even epileptic convulsions. Such situations can impact the mental health of people negatively.
  • Attacks using social engineering: Mentally manipulating someone into giving sensitive information is known as social engineering. Due to the immense amount of personal data that would be stored in the Metaverse, it might become a gold mine for hackers trying to sell personal data on the Dark Web.

Making the metaverse safe

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Awareness and education will form the foundation for the metaverse security management. One can have the best security system in the world, but it won't be of much help if the operator doesn't know how to operate it or is irresponsible.

So, how can we fight these risks on the Metaverse? These are some ways:

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  • In-depth vetting: New applications, like today's internet, have the potential to wreak havoc on our digital life. In a metaverse setting, however, the damage can become even more disastrous with the sheer amount of sensitive data that would be stored. We will need to develop measures to have all new applications checked for malicious code.
  • Platform compatibility: One of the most significant issues is the lack of interoperability and uniformity among the many metaverse platforms. This needs to be fixed.
  • Safety and awareness: Identity fraud and theft remain one of the top metaverse risks, hence being cautious is a must. The metaverse will seek far more personal information than the basic Google accounts. Aside from credit cards and bank account details, Meta has been reportedly gathering biometric data, which includes the users’ pupil movements to body poses, and this data is being used to create avatars and hyper-targeted advertisements. Hence, awareness is a must.

No one yet knows where the metaverse is heading, but the fact is that it truly represents a paradigm shift, on par with the introduction of the World Wide Web in the 1990s and the rise of social media in the early 2000s. The metaverse is a double-edged sword and it’s in our hands to work out the weaknesses in the system and use it to our collective advantage. There is a fair bit of work that we need to do to lift the clouds of uncertainty and wipe away the security risks associated with the metaverse.
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