10 Metaverse Dangers CIOs and IT Leaders Need to Address

In the 1992 novel snow crash, people tried to escape the gloom of everyday life in what the author, Neal Stephenson, called “the metaverse,” a unified and truly immersive digital existence. However, that metaverse was not a utopia and danger and chaos lurked there, just like in real life.

It’s hard to imagine people confusing one of today’s metaverse platforms with the realistic one Stephenson portrayed. Still, today’s VR-based worlds come with some risks. From security concerns to the high environmental costs of blockchain and AI, business and tech leaders will face a number of issues as they move forward. their metaverse strategy

Metaverse dangers, not just benefits

University of Maryland Global Campus leaders are among those dealing with metaverse problems.

Students enrolled in select fall classes at the University of Maryland Global Campus will be the first online school cohort to study within a “meta campus.” UMGC’s pilot program, conducted in partnership with VictoryXR and using Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headsets, will provide a digital twin campus for both in-person and online learners.

UMGC leaders are anticipating the immersive program that will deliver benefits such as allowing students to view artistic masterpieces as if they were seeing the art in the museums where they hang, said Daniel Mintz, chair of the university’s department of information technology and one of its faculty members. at the head of his metaverse initiative.

But those benefits don’t stop us from looking at the real dangers.

Until then, the UMGC is working to secure the new metacampus against the types of cyberthreats that bombard traditional enterprise IT today, Mintz said.

Metaverse pilots, such as the one from the UMGC, give technologists and business leaders a glimpse not only of the platform’s potential benefits, but also of its drawbacks and dangers.

While much of the current discussion about metaverse dangers is speculation, there is genuine concern about the dark side of the metaverse, said Kenny Ching, an assistant professor at WPI Business School.

Here are 10 of those potential metaverse dangers.

1. Increased data collection by third parties

Metaverse platforms are likely to increase the potential reach and amount of personal data that third parties collect. That massive amount of data is a gold mine that technology companies and marketers could potentially exploit.

The more data you put online, the bigger your digital footprint, so you run more risks.

Kenny ChingAssistant Professor, WPI Business School

As organizations will engage third parties to access and use the metaverse, leaders will need to understand what data those companies will collect about their employees, customers and partners, as well as how third parties will store and use that data, Mintz said.

For example, as part of protecting the UMGC metacampus, leaders must answer key questions about the level of responsibility in protecting students’ information from companies seeking to market and sell data, Mintz said.

2. Numerous Privacy Issues

Metaverse platforms require greater online dependency, making it critical to address data privacy questions.

“The more data you put online, the bigger the digital footprint you have, so you’re going to be more at risk,” Ching said.

In addition, industry watchers say that metaverse platforms will collect more of the newer types of data, such as voice recordings, in addition to collecting conventional data such as individual names and addresses.

Organizations will need to think about how to identify what data they collect and store, what level of protection they need and how to secure it, says Jenai Marinkovic, founder of Tiro Security, a small cybersecurity company. At the same time, leaders have limited legal guidance on some of those questions.

“We don’t have clear definitions yet about what personal information is in the metaverse,” Marinkovic said.

3. More complex and challenging access and identity management

Adding complex passwords to… a VR experience tends to hurt the user experience.

Jenai MarinkovicFounder, Tiro Security

Access and identity management appears to be both more complex and challenging in the metaverse, Marinkovic said.

“Each vendor has their own way of handling access and identity management. They’re not consistent and if you add complex passwords to, say, a VR experience, it tends to hurt the user experience,” said Marinkovic, who is also a member from ISACA’s Emerging Trends Working Group.

4. Cybersecurity Risks

Metaverse platforms pose many of the same cyber risks as current web applications. In addition, the extended reality hardware that many metaverse platforms rely on will be new corporate network vulnerabilities and ways in which hackers can misuse data.

IT leaders will have to answer tough questions about whether organizations are equipped enough to detect, contain and eliminate malicious code in their metaverse projects.

“The whole world around malware is a big threat,” Marinkovic said.

5. Coordinate Incident Response Questions

A related challenge that business leaders must consider when planning and launching metaverse initiatives is what incident response will entail in the new digital frontier.

“We didn’t model the threats and our responses: what would a breach look like? How do you communicate that? How do you respond?” said Marinkovic. “If You Have a Metaverse” [presence]you need people inside and outside the [metaverse] world.”

IT leaders will need to understand how their teams inside and outside a metaverse platform will work together to handle a metaverse incident response, she said.

“We don’t have a way to get those teams to work together yet,” Marinkovic said.

6. High Anonymity Issues

For some, a primary appeal of metaverse realities is the ability to assume an identity separate from the realities of physical, everyday life. That high degree of anonymity offers opportunities for bad actors.

Research on this topic is at an early stage, and it’s not clear what mechanisms organizations might use to keep anonymous avatars away from their metaverse worlds, Ching said.

Anonymity already enables scams and abuse on social media and the Internet in general. Metaverse platforms are likely to make that even more widespread.

“Widespread anonymity can trigger a range of potentially negative behaviors,” Ching said.

Researchers are looking at some expected metaverse problems, he said.

7. Harassment and assault

Closely related to the issue of anonymity are the ways in which metaverse platforms can enable new forms of personal aggression. Harassment in virtual worlds and there have already been attacks growing problem

Immersive experiences, especially those supported by: haptic technologytransferring the experience of touch from the virtual world to the user raises questions about how to respect personal boundaries and how to anticipate circumstances in which such incidents may occur, Marinkovic said.

Answers to those questions aren’t always obvious, especially in more nuanced situations, she said. Example: She was once on a forum where users tested haptic technology by shaking hands, until a participant expressed discomfort with that level of touch.

8. Lower User Vigilance Levels

Despite the potential dangers of metaverse platforms, some users may lose their vigilance in virtual situations.

At the same time, metaverse risks are increasing, and users may not provide the same level of vigilance around cybersecurity threats in those immersive environments they’ve learned to bring to their work environments, Mintz said.

“They don’t naturally think about security issues when using this kind of entertainment, so we have to think about what kind of security we can build in.” [metaverse initiatives] to counter this,” he said.

9. Potentially Reduced Productivity

Some business and IT leaders are exploring metaverse platforms for potential efficiency gains, but they shouldn’t take such benefits for granted.

Research is also looking at whether people are really as productive when interacting virtually, Ching said.

Some studies show that people without physical interactions and the physical cues they enable may actually be less efficient than when they work closely together in real life, Chang said.

10. Widening the digital divide

Metaverse platforms require access to and use of more technologies, such as VR headsets and even specialized bodywear with haptic technology, which is a barrier to entry for anyone who does not have the money to pay for such technologies.

Metaverse initiatives can exclude lower-income people from associated experiences and opportunities, Mintz said. The physicality of the metaverse can also exclude people with certain disabilities, especially if alternative access options – such as Internet versions – are not available.

The need to proceed with caution

With metaverse initiatives on the rise, business leaders would do well to consider how to mitigate these risks.

“There’s a safe way to do it, and it’s the way we do it with other new technologies — learning, training, starting with use cases that expose nothing too risky,” Marinkovic said.

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