Israeli cyberterrorism expert suggests tips to safeguard the Metaverse

Collaborative efforts and early engagement could be the key to tackling cybersecurity threats in the emerging digital realm.

 Illustrative image of a woman in the Metaverse. (photo credit: PIXABAY)
Illustrative image of a woman in the Metaverse.
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

Often touted as the next frontier in communication technology, the Metaverse promises virtual communities where people can socialize, collaborate, and conduct business using virtual reality devices.

However, amid increasing interest from tech giants like Meta (formerly Facebook), Google, Microsoft, and NVIDIA, there are concerns about the potential for bad-faith actors to exploit the Metaverse for nefarious purposes.

To address those concerns, Israeli expert on cyberterrorism, Dr. Gabriel Weimann, in collaboration with coauthor Roy Dimant and the University of Haifa, has recently published a study proposing preemptive measures to tackle potential cyberterrorism threats in the emerging Metaverse.

In the study, Weimann emphasizes the need to break the cycle of innovation and countermeasures that characterize the virtual battlefield, where non-state actors wield significant influence and expertise.

Safeguarding the Metaverse

The Metaverse  will allow a new computing experience based on virtual reality. (credit: INTEL)
The Metaverse will allow a new computing experience based on virtual reality. (credit: INTEL)

The authors recommend several steps, including fostering Public-Private Partnerships to combat terrorist use of the internet, engaging with the developers early in the Metaverse’s adoption to incorporate security measures from the outset, and implementing strong identification policies to protect user identities.

The study suggests early engagement between civil society, law enforcement, and Metaverse platform designers to lay down necessary prerequisites during development. Monitoring the Metaverse’s progress is also recommended to balance national security concerns with privacy rights, as pointed out in a recent EUROPOL report.

To foster a secure environment, a robust identification policy is proposed for individuals entering the Metaverse. Requiring identity verification during account creation can reduce the risk of identity theft.

Educating users, especially young people, on cybersecurity measures and preventive actions within the Metaverse is vital, with schools playing a crucial role in this endeavor.

Users must be cautious of potential financial crimes and scams within the Metaverse. Companies operating in the virtual space are urged to collaborate with safety and risk teams, identifying vulnerabilities, warning employees about potential threats, and thoroughly testing applications before launch.

The Metaverse’s appeal as a communication platform lies in its features of “presence” and “embodiment,” allowing users to feel direct communication and embodiment in virtual worlds. However, these very features also provide opportunities for manipulation and deceptive influencing, making regulation and control a challenge.

As the Metaverse continues to evolve, the study emphasizes the importance of involving all relevant parties in its development and staying updated on potential abuses.

“The history of the Internet and related technologies has taught us that multiple unanticipated effects are likely to arise, so unexpected side effects of innovation may have the most significant consequences,” said Weimann.

“Whatever the outcome may be, all relevant parties must partake in the development of metaverse or similar platforms and keep up to date on its future products. Understanding what is being devised by potential abusers will be essential for developing a preemptive strike strategy to counter terrorist attacks within the Metaverse.”