Hackers will increasingly target metaverse users in 2023

Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky highlights threat posed by insufficient data protection and moderation rules

VR                                 
Trojan horse fake apps and phishing attacks, virtual abuse and virtual sexual assault are all dangers, report says - Photo: Shutterstock
                                

A prominent cybersecurity firm has warned that hackers will increasingly target the metaverse in 2023. 

Kaspersky, a Russian multinational cybersecurity company, issuing its Consumer cyberthreats: predictions for 2023 report,stressed that a lack of data protection and sufficient moderation rules makes the burgeoning VR space a particular target. 

The report said: “As the metaverse experience is universal and does not obey regional data protection laws, such as GDPR, this might create complex conflicts between the requirements of the regulations regarding data breach notification.”

At the height of market confidence in 2021, Grayscale Investments, a leading digital asset manager, described the metaverse as a potential trillion dollar opportunity. However, the level of interest in the concept from both investors and users has waned in 2022 because of worsening macroeconomic conditions. 

Phishing attacks, assault and trojan horse apps

The report also highlighted the issue of virtual abuse and virtual sexual assault in metaverses, observing: “We have already seen cases of avatar rape and abuse, despite efforts to build a protection mechanism into metaverses. As there are no specific regulation or moderation rules, this scary trend is likely to follow us into 2023.”

After complaints of this nature, Meta, the company behind Facebook, which has spearheaded the development and public adoption of metaverses, has limited how close user avatars can get to each other.

Kaspersky also highlighted the threats posed by new social media platforms that cater to virtual and augmented realities. It said that cybercriminals can distribute “fake trojanised applications to infect victims’ phones for further malicious purposes,” or carry out phishing attempts to hijack accounts.

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