Prepare for Innovative Security Threats in the Metaverse

Businesses plan to adopt the metaverse for its potential benefits in collaboration, marketing, and customer experience. IT pros must prepare for the metaverse’s unique security risks.

Alyse Burnside, Contributor

February 27, 2023

2 Min Read
man wearing virtual reality goggles

Many businesses have been eager to adopt the metaverse despite its relatively unknown future and security risks. According to a Tenable survey published in December 2022, almost seven in 10 organizations said they plan to do business in metaverse by 2025.

The metaverse uses VR and AR to create a virtual landscape where users can interact as avatars. This virtual network offers novel opportunities for workplace collaboration, marketing, and enhanced customer experiences, making it especially beneficial in our era of hybrid work. 

However, adopting the metaverse raises questions around security, sustainability, and regulatory compliance. Business leaders must frequently assess the risks and rewards inherent to the technology. In addition to conventional threats that IT security pros know today, such as phishing, malware, and ransomware attacks, the metaverse will likely see advanced attacks that could be difficult to prevent and contain. 

‘A Perfect Storm for the Metaverse’

New methods of attack in the metaverse could make them difficult for IT security pros to anticipate and prevent.

For example, one of the leading concerns regarding the adoption of the metaverse is the issue of identity verification. Metaverse avatars can be cloned and potentially used by criminals to steal credentials or hijack or eavesdrop on meetings, putting businesses at risk.  

Related:Metaverse Cybersecurity: Why Identity Protection Is Essential

“There will be attacks and breaches that leverage things that we, the security community, are not aware of today,” said Rick McElroy, the principal security strategist at VMware. “Whether it’s a zero-day vulnerability or a new attack [that criminals] develop to cause a denial of service or take down a consumer's headset by overloading it, [the threats] can’t be fully anticipated.”

Many of threat types are already familiar to IT security pros, and so are the cybercriminals. What’s different is that metaverse-specific attacks may be more innovative and take time for organizations to adjust to. “The only difference is that these criminal groups have achieved a massive ROI on their activities, which fuels massive innovation on the criminal side,” McElroy said. “Simply put, there are more cybercriminals than ever before, and they are innovative and frequently change how they operate, creating a perfect storm for the metaverse.”

How IT Security Pros Can Prepare for Metaverse Adoption

When it comes to adopting the metaverse, organizations should follow standard practices for adoption of any technology.

First, organizations should identify their specific metaverse goals and requirements before taking the plunge. Organizations should weigh the risks and benefits depending on those goals and requirements.

IT security pros must then evaluate the organization’s security culture. They must ensure that the entire organization aligns with that culture, which requires employee education around security protocols and a vigilant adherence to security best practices.

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About the Author(s)

Alyse Burnside

Contributor, ITPro Today

Alyse Burnside is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn. She is working on a collection of personal essays about queerness, visibility, and the hyperreal. She's especially interested in writing about cybersecurity, AI, machine learning, VR, AR, and ER.

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