Security will make or break the metaverse

By Ruben Merre, co-founder and CEO of NGRAVE

In the advent of the Web1, the online security of individual Internet users was a much less relevant issue than it is today. Web1, or the read-only web, has undoubtedly opened some people up to hacking, phishing, and data breaches; however, due to the lack of accessible personal data, these incidents were significantly less damaging than what was to follow.

Web2 has seen a gargantuan influx of personal data into the internet sphere, opening individuals up to a host of new vulnerabilities, from leaking sensitive personal information to leaking banking details. By incorporating payment processors, the likelihood of financial loss due to a data breach has become significantly higher for all users. Today, with the arrival of the metaverse and the spread of Web3 technologies, the situation has changed. Threats to users are greater than ever, but we can learn a lot from the iterations of the Internet that preceded Web3.

In October 2021, the day Facebook rebranded to Meta, a quick search of the database shows there was a 236% increase in mentions of the word ‘metaverse’, as opposed to the same day a month. previously. While the spike in Google searches can be attributed to sheer curiosity, the metaverse has actually been a key topic in the crypto world for quite some time now. Unlike Facebook’s proprietary metaverse, the decentralized and open metaverse gives users full control of their identity and any value they create in the world. This mostly happens through crypto wallets, which allow users to securely store their assets, data, or NFTs, to name a few. However, the emergence of any new technology carries substantial risks. From now on, it is not only our personal or financial data which is threatened: it is both our personal data and financial data, as well as our digital assets.

With so much at stake, security must be at the forefront as the real, online and virtual worlds increasingly collide. The luminaries who are paving the way for the future of Web3 must learn from the serious mistakes made by the leaders of Web1 and Web2. We now have the technology and tools to not only ensure security is a priority, but to hard-code it into all Web3 processes.

By 2021, phishing scams, which have plagued Web2 since its inception, had almost quadrupled in the previous six years, costing large US companies an average of $14.8 million a year. In a Web3 world, phishing scams can become much more dangerous. If a scammer steals money from your traditional bank account, chances are a bank will refund you the stolen funds, or at the very least launch a full investigation. In Web3, these guarantees are not given to all crypto holders, and as such, all funds may be lost without a money back guarantee. This forces crypto holders to ensure that they have the highest level of security available to them.

Hot wallets are online by default, which makes them vulnerable to scams. Without a wallet seed, the built-in security to recover a wallet, everything you create and own in the metaverse could be lost. Browser wallets play an important function in the metaverse; in Decentraland, for example, users without a linked active wallet cannot access full, customizable accounts and must play as guests. However, hot wallets are a weak point. In all virtual worlds, hackers prey on inexperienced newcomers, using the scams with which Web2 users have become all too familiar.

Users can mitigate this risk by taking the extra step of connecting a MetaMask or online wallet to a cold wallet; remove the connectivity of assets to vulnerabilities presented by access to the digital world. Users can also stay safe in the metaverse by following some of Web2’s basic guidelines, like avoiding clicking on unknown links or pop-ups, and keeping general online security as tight as possible. As with all new technologies, knowledge is power. Access to educational resources is key, and it couldn’t be more important when it comes to engaging with the metaverse.

Placing security at its core will be essential if the metaverse is to reach its full potential. However, the responsibility cannot be placed on the individual alone. As with all emerging technologies, developers and industry professionals have an educational responsibility to ensure that potential users, policy makers and businesses are aware of the risks and best equipped to manage them. If the metaverse is to become as omnipotent as it has the potential to be, security of assets, data and information along with consistent and effective content moderation practices will have to be even more important than they are. were in the Web2.

Now, during the Web3 core building process, it’s time to hard-code those protections, not retroactively. Trust in the Metaverse is of utmost importance to ensure its future success. This can only be achieved by correcting the wrongs of older iterations of the Internet as soon as possible and developing solutions designed to never compromise security.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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