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Augmented Reality or AR is one of the founding pillars of the metaverse and new AR developments is undoubtedly exciting.

Metaverse became the buzzword after Facebook announced that it was changing its name to Meta to symbolize a strategy shift. For those who are still not familiar with the metaverse, it is a virtual world in which users can put on virtual reality goggles and navigate a stylized version of themselves, known as an avatar, via virtual workplaces, and entertainment venues, and other activities. The metaverse will be an immersive version of the internet with interactive features using different technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), 3D graphics, 5G, hologram, NFT, blockchain, haptic sensors, and artificial intelligence. Every technology that is being used as a building block for the metaverse brings its risks.

Many experts are concerned about the possibility that identity theft may become even easier in the metaverse if strict security measures are not implemented. Identity theft is already a multibillion-dollar industry in the real world; a study released just last month placed losses to identity theft at approximately US$24 billion. Worse, the number of cases has grown over 50 percent from 2020’s figures, according to cybersecurity research.

An immersive experience also creates the risk of a black hole, especially for children and teenagers. We have already seen cases in which teens have lost their lives due to mobile games and getting influenced so much that they could become a threat to other people. We are stepping into a bigger risk here where a child may not be able to differentiate between the real and virtual world.

Security Risks of Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality or AR is one of the founding pillars of the metaverse and new AR developments are undoubtedly exciting. New AR advancements can provide new instruments and approaches for collecting data. One of the biggest perceived dangers of augmented reality concerns privacy. A user’s privacy is at risk because AR technologies can see what the user is doing. AR collects a lot of information about who the user is and what they are doing – to a much greater extent than, for example, social media networks or other forms of technology. The following questions can help you reflect on the possibilities of security risks in the metaverse through augmented reality. 

  • What happens to user privacy if hackers compromise an AR device?
  • How will AR firms use and safeguard the data collected from users?
  • Where do businesses store AR data and what are the encryption methods followed for the same?
  • Do the AR companies share AR data with third parties and for what purposes?
Security Risks of Virtual Reality

As with AR, privacy is a major concern with Virtual Reality. The prominent Virtual Reality privacy issue is the highly personal nature of the collected data – i.e., biometric data such as iris or retina scans, fingerprints and handprints, face geometry, and voiceprints. Virtual Reality or VR is also responsible for many notable privacy issues in the metaverse. What makes Virtual Reality a vulnerable target in the metaverse? Just like zip codes, IP addresses, and voiceprints, Virtual Reality and AR tracking data should be considered potential personally identifiable information (PII). It can be regarded as PII because other parties can use it to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, either alone or when combined with other personal or identifying information. This makes Virtual Reality privacy a significant concern.

Identity Theft

Virtual Reality technologies powering the metaverse serve as a vulnerable target for identity theft in the metaverse. Various machine learning algorithms can easily help in manipulating sounds and visuals to an extent where they seem authentic. For example, think of a situation where hackers have gained access to the motion-tracking data of a Virtual Reality headset. Now, the hackers could easily generate digital duplicates by leveraging the motion-tracking data from Virtual Reality headsets. Subsequently, hackers can use the digital duplicates in overlap with another individual’s Virtual Reality experience to carry out social engineering attacks.

Attackers can also insert features into virtual reality platforms that are designed to trick users into providing personal information by accident. This, like augmented reality, opens the door to ransomware attacks, in which attackers sabotage platforms before demanding a ransom. Machine learning technologies enable you to manipulate voices and videos while maintaining their realism. If a hacker gains access to motion detection data from a VR headset, they may be able to use it to create a digital copy (also known as a deepfake) and thus undermine VR security.

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