Ever since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company’s rebranding to “Meta” and its reshifting of focus, there’s been a ridiculous amount of hype generated about the so-called “metaverse”. The metaverse is being touted as “the next big thing” in technology, turning various items of science fiction into reality.
Despite all the hype around it, the metaverse remains vague and nobody seems to know what it’s really supposed to be. Its ambiguity makes sense given that it’s still in its infancy, but many people, both corporations and consumers already look forward to it.
If you’re among those who have jumped into the metaverse hype train, then you should know how to protect your data when the age of the metaverse comes. But first, let’s try to shed some light on what the metaverse truly is. After all, it’s significantly harder to put up defenses when you know little about a new environment and the threats it contains.
What is the Metaverse?
Oxford Languages defines metaverse as “a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users.” It would’ve been simple if that definition were enough, but it’s far from enlightening. Following that definition, a metaverse can be any virtual world that persists even when you log out of it. MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games), a genre of video games that existed decades ago, would then count as a metaverse.
Perhaps one can argue that the metaverse is whatever Meta is envisioning it to be, but that would be incorrect. Firstly, something as large as the metaverse isn’t something that one corporation, Meta, can build. Its development will rely on the initiatives and contributions of various businesses and organizations. Second, even Meta isn’t certain what the metaverse will become. Meta and everyone’s vision of the metaverse are likely to be starkly different from what it will develop into.
All things considered, it’s far too early to present a be-all and end-all definition of the metaverse. By extension, it’s also far too early to determine what kind of new cybersecurity risks it will bring rise to. This takes us back to the question, “How do you protect your data in the metaverse?”
The answer is pretty much the same — how you protect your data today. Still, we know what kind of threats to expect based on the threats existing today.
Possible threats in the Metaverse
- Too much data collection – The metaverse will introduce a new dimension of information that can be harvested and sold to interested parties. Furthermore, the new wave of gadgets and devices the metaverse will bring will make data collection easier and more excessive.
- Even more surveillance – Interacting with the metaverse will require various new gadgets such as VR headsets, AR glasses, wearable sensors, etc. These devices will open up new avenues for collecting user information and surveillance. Given that the metaverse is still new, national and international laws are likely to lag behind in regulating the volume of data they can gather and the extent to which they can track users.
- More entry points for hackers – every device you use that connects to the internet is an entry point for anything malicious. With the metaverse bringing in a handful of new devices, cybercriminals will have more ways to breach your security.
How to protect your data
The threats mentioned above are just based on the threats we’re seeing in today’s cyberspace. As the metaverse develops and takes on a distinguishable identity, threats we’ve never seen before are sure to surface. For now, those who are eager to join the metaverse early should practice the following for better data security.
- Exercise more caution
Just like with any new trend in technology, early participants of the metaverse should exercise more caution. The technology is still developing and there won’t be laws to protect users for a good amount of time. Don’t give your personal information to parties you don’t trust, and don’t readily give your trust to anyone. The early metaverse is sure to be teeming with cybercriminals looking to prey on the gullible. It will indeed be better to be safe than sorry.
- Invest in cybersecurity
At the present, investing in cybersecurity isn’t necessary, at least not for the average user. The internet and the technologies associated with it are mature enough to have built-in defenses to protect most consumers. The same cannot be said for the metaverse in its current state.
If you are determined to participate in the metaverse in its infancy, investing in cybersecurity software is highly recommended. There will be too many unknowns and too many opportunities for cybercriminals to strike. By investing in software such as anti-malware, cloud backup, and a virtual private network (VPN), you provide yourself with an extra layer of protection you will likely need.
- Use a password manager
We still don’t know what exactly the metaverse will look like once it’s fully realized, but it surely will still involve plenty of accounts — which means plenty of usernames and passwords to create and remember.
You shouldn’t be using the exact same username and password for everything today, and you shouldn’t be doing so in the age of the metaverse. Using a reliable password manager like LastPass, Dashlane, or BitWarden makes creating a strong password and remembering it becomes so much easier. These programs also organize your passwords so you don’t have to remember which one belongs to what account.
There’s a lot of hype surrounding the metaverse, and no one can blame you for being excited. However, it’s important to remain protected online, especially in a platform as young as the metaverse. We still can’t predict what are the exact threats the metaverse will bring, but we can surmise, based on current threats, what we can expect. Ultimately, protecting your data in the metaverse starts with caution and common sense.