I found myself climbing out of a mountain drop and then floating over a deep canyon, shaken for a second by the same vertigo I felt the first time I took a helicopter ride. I had entered a space in the metaverse, and it was full of magic: places to go, things to do and learn, and people to interact with. Skeptical at first, it won me over right from the start. I was able to experience travel and entertainment as if I were there, moving through space and time, all made possible by my VR goggles and the app I was using with it. With my first avatar, the alternate ego that replaced me in this metaverse presented a different challenge. I had to choose the look I wanted in this strange new space that didn’t take up any physical space, and I’m sure I spent more time on it than I need to pack for a long business trip.
The metaverse is a descriptor for the many Internet-based real-time virtual spaces that can be used for work and social experiences, often using avatars. This may seem at first like a concept out of science fiction movies, but the technology is real and companies are already starting to take their first virtual steps in this virtual environment. What could have been pure fantasy a few years ago is fast becoming virtual reality today.
The numbers back it up too. The metaverse has been valued as an $800 billion market opportunity by Bloomberg, and while others might disagree with the exact estimate, companies like JP Morgan and PWC plan to cater to clients who have invested in virtual real estate. using this technology. This has led others to consider what opportunities the metaverse might provide for their operations.
The metaverse is a descriptor of the many Internet-based real-time virtual spaces
Companies are already enabling virtual reality applications so that customers can navigate through their “physical” virtual spaces and learn more about their services or offers. Healthcare professionals can view 3D images of the human body to facilitate diagnosis and treatment. First responders can conduct exercises in simulated environments to be prepared to handle triage and containment challenges in real time. The list of possible use cases is almost endless, as is the short-term opportunity.
But, great opportunities usually come with associated risks, and this applies to the metaverse as well: the UK government has already highlighted the importance of cybersecurity and governance in this environment in this year’s Online Safety Bill. So while it’s inspiring to see so much interest in the possibilities it will generate from the metaverse, businesses should also consider how they can ensure security and privacy in their virtual businesses.
Regulation and governance
In an abstract economy, where experiences in this new virtual environment create opportunities for people to unfold through various channels on the Internet, a system of regulation and governance with recognized intermediaries is essential to ensure supervision and build trust. For example, financial transactions made through smart avatars will generate data, raising questions about how that data should be processed and regulated, and what contracts should be in place to ensure privacy.
The information derived from their digital assets and interactions, whether technical or sociological, must be regulated, and users must be protected from malicious or manipulative use of their data. One method of doing this is through data access and usage transparency. This is theoretically possible through the use of immutable registries to capture data access and usage which, when decentralized (as in blockchain) could provide democratized access to monitor and govern the behavior of those who wish to use the data. Additionally, the concept of ownership and monetization in a space like the metaverse can be democratized through capabilities like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) used on a blockchain.
The proliferation of data generated by the metaverse amplifies associated risks such as data breaches and cybersecurity attacks. And because you’re transacting in a virtual environment, there are potentially increased risks of identity theft and phishing. Legitimate concerns include counterfeit non-fungible tokens and fake avatars, which could reveal sensitive information and allow unwanted access to cryptocurrency wallets and blockchain scams from fake financial organizations.
In addition to the governance-related concerns outlined above, some of the top security threats are associated with identity, data, and privacy. Identity theft, such as phishing attacks, unauthorized and stolen identity, and unauthorized interoperability linking, can occur in a metaverse. Data-related threats are very similar to those that exist today, such as data manipulation, phishing, false data injection, etc. Ensuring privacy is even more important in a metaverse because user behavior can be captured at a more granular level than in the physical world. In addition to the types of malware attacks we see in Web 2.0, there are more possibilities for “Sybill attacks” where one identity (hacker) can pretend to be many identities at the same time.
While a metaverse is about our experience with the Internet of the future, Web 3.0 is about how the future of the Internet will be built.
In the face of all these issues, it is important to develop a “baseline security and privacy” mindset, as the number of interactions and related data proliferation must be adequately protected. Additionally, the algorithms that power metaverse experiences are constantly being developed, creating additional complexity that will need to be monitored and protected. The task of protecting a company’s assets, data, and people is huge and will need to be shared by those working on technologies that support enterprise experiences and users, as well as by government agencies that provide regulation over the flow of data. of data between them.
While a metaverse is about our experience with the Internet of the future, Web 3.0 is about how the future of the Internet will be built. Companies building with Web 3.0 must ensure that their employees have the skills and tools to identify threats, internal and external, and take appropriate steps to reduce security risks. In the past, countless companies have lost consumer confidence due to lack of security and safe practices in Web 2.0 applications. All employees must be trained and equipped with the right information to help ensure personal and business security and prevent data proliferation and breaches. Organizations need to implement an educational approach at the beginning of their journey towards building with Web 3.0 and creating interaction paradigms in a metaverse.
Why Experiences Matter in the Metaverse
The world is beset by a series of seemingly intractable problems, such as climate change, economic inequalities, and the current threat posed by the pandemic. Experiences in the metaverse create an environment that can help businesses, governments, and social entrepreneurs address these top issues through immersion and enhanced collaboration. However, there is a widespread need for training and consultancy, especially as innovation continues to outpace regulation.
Web 3.0 is already being used to enable many of the new interaction paradigms in the metaverse for customers, investors, and employees, while governments will be able to use it to better communicate with their citizens. But persistent and legitimate concerns about governance and security are holding back progress. Partnering with organizations that have the tools, experience, and insights can ease your journey to safely create metaverse interactions that solve pressing business, social, and environmental problems.
Nicole Reineke, Vice President of Innovation, Iron Mountain
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism