Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, believes the “Metaverse is the next chapter” for the internet and is wasting no time transforming his company to meet this vision. As he reinvents and rebrands his company, investors are already betting on its success and investing into Metaverse focused exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
The future of how we socialize, work, and play is about to be turned upside down as “businesses are jumping on this bandwagon, developing realistic, physically accurate digital twins that simulate natural environments or industrial operations.” (SpaceNews). To be successful operating in these “always-on” communities, the Metaverse will require innovative leadership, transformational technologies, cybersecurity ingenuity, a resilient infrastructure, and updated standards and regulatory policies.
As this digital shift moves from recreational (i.e. gaming) to political, economic, and military domains, the Metaverse must take on a deliberate and measured approach to solving both the online problems we face today and our future challenges. While this virtual community takes shape, we must look to the past to inform and guide us on how we should approach the future.
Lesson One: Recognizing and Addressing Increased Cybersecurity Risks.
If the past can teach us anything, it’s that securing the cyber-domain has never been easy – protecting the Metaverse will be no exception. Year after year, we continue to see significant changes in the number and sophistication of cyber events. Cybersecurity can’t be an afterthought and requires early recognition in the planning and development of the Metaverse architecture. No one wants a rogue avatar running amuck in cyberspace.
Lesson Two: Mitigating the Weakest Link.
When it comes to securing cyberspace, statistics continue to show that the biggest threat to cybersecurity is the human domain. The human is both a strength and weakness; our competitive advantage and disadvantage. We must continue to look for ways to build resiliency into human vulnerability.
Lesson Three: Managing the Data Landscape.
Data is the name of the game and the DNA of the virtual realm – the Metaverse will require a lot of it. This issue raises several critical “who, what, why, and how” questions of sufficiency surrounding the existing legal, administrative, and technical safeguards of data privacy, rights, sharing, and security.
Lesson Four: Metaverse Social Dynamics.
Hate-speech, pornography, violence, harassment, and bullying represent some of the ills traversing the internet today. Allegations of sexual harassment have already occurred in beta versions of the Metaverse. As we design the internet of the future, we must have a serious dialog to determine what cybersecurity safeguards and enforcement mechanisms are required to stop unwanted and unsolicited behavior; how we protect our children from accessing inappropriate content; and, what roles parental controls and age restrictions will play in this domain.
As the Metaverse increasingly becomes a prevalent part of our culture, cybersecurity must drive this universal digital platform. It is only a matter of time before our cyber adversaries start knocking on the front door of the house that Metaverse built.