What is the dark side of the metaverse?
The way we relate to and connect with one another and with technology may change as a result of the metaverse. However, like with any new technology, there may also be risks and downsides. A potential drawback of the metaverse includes potential issues with security, privacy, and law.
Privacy is one of the biggest problems with metaverse platforms. In the metaverse, people might divulge more private information, raising the possibility of hacking and data breaches. The collection and use of this data by enterprises may also be subject to less oversight and regulation, which could lead to the misuse of personal data.
The metaverse is vulnerable to security concerns since it is a virtual environment, including hacking, intellectual property theft, and exploitation of user data that can result in the loss of personal data, financial injury, and harm to the reputation and stability of virtual communities. For instance, thieves may use the metaverse to carry out new crimes, spread malware, or steal private information.
Because the metaverse is still young and changing quickly, regulation is another problem. Governments and other institutions may struggle to keep up with technology and may not have the tools or resources needed to govern it adequately. This lack of supervision could lead to issues like illegal conduct and harmful content.
However, because the metaverse is a brand-new field that is advancing swiftly, it is also unknown how society will be impacted by it. While some experts claim that technology will provide opportunities for connection and community, others argue that it will only lead to an increase in social alienation and loneliness.
How do cybercriminals target the metaverse?
Cybercriminals prey on the metaverse by exploiting holes in virtual systems and user behavior, such as malware infections, phishing schemes, and unauthorised access to personal and financial information.
The metaverse may be targeted by cybercriminals in a number of ways, including:
Phishing scams: Criminals may use phishing techniques to trick victims into providing personal data or login credentials that can be used for identity or data theft or other illegal activities.
Hacking: Criminals may attempt to hack into user accounts or metaverse platforms in order to steal money or personal information.
Malware: Criminals may employ malware to infect virtual environments or devices that support the metaverse in order to access sensitive data or conduct illegal operations.
Frauds: To commit frauds like Ponzi or pyramid schemes, criminals may take advantage of the anonymity and low regulation of the metaverse.
Ransomware: Thieves might encrypt a user’s digital goods or personal data using ransomware before demanding payment in exchange for the decryption key.
Exploiting virtual goods and assets: Cybercriminals can buy virtual goods and assets using bots or other tools, which they can then resell for real money on the black market.
Making bogus virtual assets and selling them to naive buyers: Criminals may create false virtual assets and sell them, incurring financial damage to the victims.
Social engineering: Before scamming someone, thieves may gain their trust by using the social aspects of the metaverse.
One real-world incident of cybercrime in the metaverse is the “Crypto Crime Cartel” case. A group of cybercriminals who had been operating in the metaverse, more notably in the virtual world of Second Life, were found in 2020.
They used a phishing scheme to mislead users into providing login and personal information, which they then used to steal virtual currency and digital assets. Using the information, they had obtained, the group also committed financial crimes and identity theft in the real world. Digital assets and currencies worth millions of dollars were successfully taken by cryptocurrency money launderers.
This illustration shows how cybercriminals might take advantage of the anonymity and permissive laws of the metaverse to commit crimes. It highlights how important it is to use caution when using virtual worlds and to take security measures to protect personal information and digital assets, such as using strong passwords, being wary of unsolicited requests for personal information, and reporting any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.
Another instance of financial crime in the metaverse is the Decentral Games hack. In 2021, a group of hackers used a security hole in a smart contract to assault Decentralised Games, a popular Ethereum-based metaverse gaming platform. They were successful in stealing from network users Ether (ETH) and other cryptocurrencies worth over $8 million.
This example demonstrates how vulnerable decentralised systems and smart contracts can be to cyberattacks of all kinds. It also shows how the crypto and metaverse sectors’ lack of monitoring and regulation might make it easier for criminals to commit cybercrimes and steal substantial quantities of money.
How to protect yourself in the metaverse
Use secure passwords, keep an eye out for unusual behaviour, and keep your online sharing of personal information to a minimum if you want to keep yourself safe in the metaverse.
In the metaverse, you can safeguard yourself in the following ways:
- Create secure passwords using a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols, and avoid using the same one for several different accounts.
- Exercise caution while revealing personal information: Keep an eye out for illegal requests for personal information and use caution while disclosing information online.
- Make use of two-factor authentication: Use two-factor authentication to increase the security of your accounts.
- Software and hardware updates: Keep your software and devices updated with the most recent security improvements to prevent any vulnerabilities.
- Describe any questionable behaviour: Any problematic activity or behaviour should be reported to the appropriate authorities or the platform’s moderation team.
- Watch out for phishing attempts. You should be on the lookout for phishing efforts to trick you into divulging personal information or login passwords.
- If possible, use a virtual private network (VPN). Use a VPN to encrypt your internet connection and protect your personal information before accessing the metaverse.
- Choose your privacy settings: Use the tools and privacy settings provided by the metaverse platforms to manage how much of your private information is made available to others.
- Recognize the likelihood of sexual harassment and take action to protect oneself from inappropriate or unwanted behavior. Sexual harassment is a real possibility in the metaverse.
- Be on the lookout for con artists who may use social engineering, fictitious identities, or impersonation to trick you.
Users can further safeguard themselves by taking precautions and being aware of the risks and warnings present in virtual reality worlds. This may involve being cautious about the information they share online, using care when conversing with strangers, and blocking or reporting any people who act inappropriately.