Since the first head-mounted AR display in the 1960s, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have become increasingly more prominent and given way to the metaverse, a massive virtual shared world created by the convergence of the internet, VR, and AR. While this has become most noticeable in the video gaming industry, the metaverse is set to revolutionize eCommerce, healthcare, entertainment, and the automotive industries as well. Soon these immersive technologies will become indispensable.
VR headset user

Now is the time both organizations and individuals start looking at cybersecurity in the VR-AR world from a different perspective to avert any potential cybersecurity breaches. However, as these technologies continue to improve, so do the cybersecurity risks involved. Cyber threat actors evolve their modus operandi to infiltrate the end-users privacy for their nefarious purposes.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) Market Size Worldwide 2021-2024 Prediction

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) market size worldwide Prediction

Before discussing the cybers risks associated with VR and AR, let us see how the market for these revolutionary technologies is growing.

  • The AR and VR market is expected to reach the astronomical figure of $296.9 billion in 2024.
  • By 2022, the number of Augmented Reality users in the US alone will cross 95.1 million.

The New Cybersecurity Threats You Can Encounter in a VR/AR World

While these immersive technologies can be exciting as they take users into an entirely different world, one should not brush off the cybersecurity implications of VR and AR, as discussed below: 


A Minefield of Information – Readily Available

When you use a VR headset, you share crucial information about your facial features, eyes, speech data, and even your retina patterns. These biometric identification characteristics are critical as any malicious actor can replicate them and cause use for illegitimate purposes such as identity theft and other cybersecurity breaches

Data Security Issues – Lack of Encryption

You may be aware of the data encryption in online communication tools such as instant messaging apps, readily available for end-users. However, several VR/AR systems have not yet implemented encryption for network connections. Besides, these systems rely on third-party apps for collaborations, which often do not adopt sufficient protective measures. 

Rise In DDoS Attack – Can Affect Business Continuity

Generally, business organizations include a well-compiled incident response strategy in their cybersecurity policy for the traditional environment. As VR/AR technology is still in its nascent stages and not appropriately monitored, these environments are at risk from several cyberattacks, such as DDoS attacks. 



Mitigating Cybersecurity Risks In VR/AR Environments

As AR and VR technologies mature into mainstream technologies, users must be ready to tackle the cybersecurity threats that may arise due to any reasons whatsoever. 

  • Securing device-to-device communication between such devices and the centralized servers that manage communications in the VR/AR environment is essential.
  • It is better to encrypt outbound and inbound connections from and to VR/AR devices for maintaining data privacy.
  • One should ensure force authentication of all communication between VR/AR devices.
  • Using proper identity and authentication mechanisms between VR/AR applications and the centralized ecosystem help secure communications with the primary server.
  • It is advisable to use data masking for securing data.
  • All VR/AR applications and firmware residing on such devices must be additionally protected using robust anti-virus and anti-malware tools.
  • Users must look out for any abnormal behavior of the VR/AR devices, applications, and the ecosystem.
  • Validating the integrity and relevance of VR/AR content is also crucial.
  • There should be continuous assessment of VR/AR devices, applications, and the overall ecosystem. 


Final Words

As the metaverse moves to the next level with increased digital transformation, VR and AR are gradually entering the mainstream– especially in the world of interactive media. While AR and VR have yet to gain proper relevance in today’s cyber environment, these technologies will eventually become ubiquitous. Therefore, individual and enterprise users need to proactively manage cybersecurity threats before they result in potential cybersecurity breaches.   

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