Is the Metaverse a cyber-sandbox for criminals?

The crypto sector has had a rocky ride over the last few weeks. Fears that the Metaverse will prove to be fertile ground for terrorism funding; have all raised question marks about how the sector can be regulated. With the fast growing electronic and digital warfare space, we must begin to study and  understand the impact of the next “big thing” appearing on the horizon of social media platforms: the Metaverse. Metaverse is introduced as a next-generation, 3D virtual platform with new tools and technologies being developed to perform data analytics and other critical analysis on it.

What exactly is being put on the Metaverse and how it can be accessed as well as secured?

In a recent article for the National League of Cities, the Metaverse was described as: “It is an online space that digitally recreates the real world. For others, it is a shift in how people interact with their world, using technologies like 3D computing, augmented reality, virtual reality, and blockchain to form new immersive virtual world experiences.”

The Metaverse, which is still in the developmental stage, incorporates artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and other “augmented reality” software to create a whole new virtual platform for information gathering, interactive communications, and counterintelligence. This emerging platform already has some real applications which you may have heard of like virtual digital real estate and other new applications.

The question becomes, will it have the potential to be used for criminal or terrorist activity? Will it have adequate safeguards built in to protect all the applications which are being developed for it?

Social media platforms are used by hundreds of millions of people every day and it is also a huge source for intelligence gathering? There are many tools that can be used to collect and analyse data across all the major platforms including Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. These tools are used by both corporate as well as government and military entities to gather information on all sorts of data.

What happens if Metaverse information falls into the wrong hands?

Given that it can also function as an exchange for cryptocurrencies and NFTs, it has the underpinnings of being another tool in the arsenal for asymmetric warfare performed by terrorist organizations. It could be used for ransomware demands as well as the plotting of violent attacks on a city’s destination points or transportation facilities.

Whenever you have the ability to access cryptocurrencies, there is an enormous potential for cybercrimes. Blockchain technology was supposed to make transactions safe, but the “bad guys” figured out how to create schemes around that “security” and use it for ransomware and other criminal endeavours.

Likewise, If terrorists can access information about building structures, vital city operations, or other municipal information, they could utilize it to rehearse their intended terrorist event in a virtual setting, and then proceed to actually execute it in the real world.

These are the types of issues and concerns which need to be thoroughly thought through before adding certain applications and sensitive information to the Metaverse.

Unfortunately, new 21st-century online capabilities require sophisticated 21st-century safeguards which in the past are usually not thought through or well-established until after the platforms come out to be used by the public.

It would be imprudent to blindly provide a virtual training ground for terrorists with a powerful 3D platform offering capabilities which could potentially lead up to unintended consequences.

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