How will the metaverse affect cloud security?
An immersive digital world enabled by a range of technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and virtual and augmented reality, the metaverse allows us to see and interact with objects and people. This virtual environment is enhanced by photorealistic avatars that can replicate your real body through wearable sensors that measure your movements and immersive smart glasses that enable virtual and augmented reality. With these technologies, what you do in the real world controls your experience in the virtual world and vice versa.
Supporting a virtual universe requires vast computing and storage resources. These resources are readily available in the cloud. This planned adoption of cloud services should lead to cloud technologies specifically designed to meet the needs of the metaverse.
Since the cloud is the foundation of the metaverse, how will the metaverse affect cloud security?
Top Metaverse Security Issues
For a virtual world to function like the physical world, it must maintain continuous online availability with real-time feedback and continuous operation. Large-scale interactions are supported by high-speed computing and information transmission systems. The ideal compute infrastructure for the metaverse supports low latency and large data streams.
Technologies such as cloud computing, 5G, IoT, edge computing, and high-performance computing are ideal for supporting the compute and processing requirements of the metaverse. Adoption of these technologies in the metaverse will require more cloud-connected devices and an increase in cloud infrastructure. Looking at this expansion from a security perspective, an increase in the number of cloud-connected endpoints will undoubtedly lead to an overall increase in the exposed attack surface.
For example, IoT devices are highly targeted points of vulnerability for attackers. Indeed, they usually contain weak security controls and portability, a recipe for infiltrating multiple networks. IoT botnets are not rare occurrences, which could be reproduced in the metaverse. Attackers target botnets because they allow them to automatically distribute malware, slow down computing power by mining cryptocurrency, compromise data, and crash servers through DDoS attacks.
The metaverse is related to the blockchain, which is the primary means for trading digital goods in this virtual world. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are unique cryptographic assets representing physical or digital items in the form of a record on a blockchain. These often collectible digital assets have a value similar to that of physical goods.
As blockchain is probably the most popular form of payment in the metaverse world. This leaves its impact on cloud security as a matter of concern. NFTs are vulnerable to security breaches, allowing users to access tokens and identities as well as perform illegal transactions. Authentication flaws could allow an attacker to gain illegal ownership of an NFT, or an attacker could interfere with NFT media data and metadata to manipulate transactions.
As some prefer the decentralized and inexpensive nature of blockchain storage, it behooves cloud providers to take a closer look at how their enterprise infrastructure and services relate to these blockchains. Key to this consideration is improving the security of keys and associated blockchains.
Additionally, this data can be enhanced with access control and authentication mechanisms that promote user data privacy. In the metaverse, hash functions and asymmetric key encryption help ensure data security. The Metaverse’s AR and VR systems share much of the data. This means that cloud providers must ensure secure and transparent data sharing. Finally, blockchain offers data encryption capabilities that cloud providers can leverage.
Although the concept of compromised identities is not new in the field of computer security, however, it has been largely overlooked in virtual worlds and other online environments. The rise of the internet age has made spoofing easier for attackers to execute, but digital spoofing can have much more impact when applied to the metaverse.
For example, digital identity theft can allow malicious actors to access valuable data and take control of assets stored in the metaverse. A thief could steal your identity, hack into your accounts and take control of your avatar. The impact is not just financial, as these cybercriminals using your digital identity possess the power to ruin your reputation, deliberately or accidentally. The anonymity of the metaverse can make attackers feel protected and have the confidence to develop such actions.
Fortunately, the metaverse will require an identity and authentication mechanism to secure digital identities. To mitigate cyber risks among users, identity verification systems must evolve to adapt to the changing cyber landscape and prevent account takeover in Web3. That said, the metaverse itself offers many promising solutions to address the challenges of digital identity theft.
For example, the use of virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) glasses or headsets in the metaverse opens the possibility of developing new authentication tools and mechanisms. VR sensors could be configured to provide advanced biometrics and unique identification systems such as body movements, hand movements and gestures.
The metaverse will store a wealth of user data. This includes information about how these consumers interact with the metaverse as well as personal information derived from AR, VR and IoT devices. As these new devices become available, the opportunities for attackers to gain access to valuable information about people who may not know they are being tracked by their phone or an IoT device also increase.
New types of sensors in the metaverse allow devices to collect more information than before. This includes biometric data such as fingerprints, retina scans or voice patterns and conversation-based audio recordings, as well as smartwatches, which can track blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. This increase in the amount of sensitive personal data being transmitted to and from the cloud will force metaverse providers to leverage the cloud to take a hard look at how they manage, share, and store information.
Regardless of how regulators govern the processing of personal data in the metaverse, the techniques used to protect personally identifiable information in conventional cloud environments cannot be ignored. Consumers and organizations hosting metaverse entities should consider a hybrid cloud environment to improve privacy, reliability, scalability, and security.
A hybrid cloud solution adopts a separate but connected architecture comprised of on-premises, private, and public environments. You have the flexibility to store sensitive data or run sensitive workloads on private servers. Encrypted APIs make it easier to secure workloads and data in transit between data centers and cloud environments. To minimize data exposure, it is recommended to host sensitive workloads in the private cloud and less sensitive workloads in the public cloud.
More connections, more challenges
The Metaverse will prove to be an essential technology for a number of sectors and industries. However, like any new technological advancement, security challenges will undoubtedly arise, namely the impact of the metaverse on cloud platforms.
The metaverse will lead to more devices being connected to the cloud, expanding the digital attack surface for organizations and individuals. The use of blockchain as an inherent medium of exchange in the virtual world also raises questions about cloud security. Identity theft and the theft of personally identifiable information in the metaverse remain critical areas of concern.