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Kaspersky’s tips on how to protect digital identity in the new meta-universe

December 2021 by Kaspersky

After the renaming of Facebook to Meta, virtual meta-universes (metaverses) have been discussed globally. International brands and even countries are planning to open their offices and implement projects in the virtual world. Over the past few years, the term metaverse has become very popular - it is mentioned in the context of Fortnite, Microsoft, Roblox, Minecraft, Balenciaga and Nike, as well within AR and VR technologies.

The term metaverse was coined by science fiction writer Neil Stevenson in 1992 in his novel Snow Crash. Stevenson’s metaverse is the next stage in the development of the internet: a common digital world that combines the "physical" with augmented and virtual reality.

People can connect to the metaverse as avatars and do everything as if they were in the real world: search for information, communicate, go shopping and work - but at the same time get away from reality and live in a virtual universe. A human avatar in the metaverse can be whatever it wants and own anything, and death does not have the same meaning as in the real world. Some examples of fully-fledged digital worlds in popular culture can be found in the Matrix trilogy or Ready Player One, where the multiplayer online game OASIS has become an analog of the metaverse.

In addition to separate universes, virtual images are already gradually becoming part of modern reality. In the USA, the Alter Ego show was launched, where the contestants sing backstage while motion capture technology creates digital avatars that appear in their place.

Having accepted the fact that the metaverse is one of the elements of the future, users should think about the security of digital avatars and possible threats that could be relevant to metaverses:

1. Identity theft and account hijacking by analogue with social networks and multiplayer games. This can potentially lead to:
a. Loss of personal information (for example, correspondence - or their meta-analogues), which, for example, can lead to blackmail.
b. Theft of virtual, or real fiat currency, or cryptocurrency from cards and wallets linked to an account or expensive virtual items, such as skins or outfits.
c. Using your avatar for fraud (schemes when friends and family are asked to borrow money).

2. Another important factor is social engineering, similar to dating services. Like in dating apps, and there sure will be metaverse analogues to them, people in virtual reality may not be who they claim they are, or might not have the best intentions.

This can lead to:

a. Catfishing schemes.
b. Stalking and doxing. Kaspersky and have developed a course on how to protect yourself from doxing or deal with its consequences.
c. Other dangers in the transition from the virtual to the real world. More information is available in Kaspersky blog – Love in an algorithmic age.

3. Privacy issues – Metaverses are like social media, just in a virtual reality, it’s because of these users need to be vigilant and protect their personal information (like passport data or their ticket number). More data about online privacy can be found here: From zero to online privacy hero in 5 steps.

4. Issues connected to blockchain. If, as in Decentraland, user’s identity is built on a wallet, then it is worth protecting it, as, for example, it is partly written here: Safe cryptotrading 101. Chapter: What are cryptowallets, and how do they store tokens?

5. Potentially children can also become active users of the metaverse. One of the striking examples is the Roblox game, which has been at the top of the most popular games among kids for a long time. At the same time, it is also important to foresee and ensure their safety from criminals, given that in VR, there are risks of encountering offenders. More information about VR&AR security is available here: What are the Security and Privacy Risks of VR and AR.

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