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META FRAUD

Future metaverse scams could involve hackers ‘wearing your skin’

MARK Zuckerberg thinks we'll live most of our lives in the metaverse one day but security experts fear scams could shatter trust in virtual reality.

"I'm always, unfortunately, surprised by the creativity of the fraudsters," Shmuli Goldberg, an executive at a cybersecurity company, told The Sun in an exclusive interview.

Market analysts think the metaverse could be worth as much as $800billion by 2024
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Market analysts think the metaverse could be worth as much as $800billion by 2024Credit: Getty Images - Getty
Advanced forms of fraud are taking place in the unregulated metaverse
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Advanced forms of fraud are taking place in the unregulated metaverseCredit: Getty Images - Getty

"Metaverse" is a catch-all term for virtual reality worlds that are accessible online or by VR headset.

The more immersive experience is by VR headset, where other players appear as custom avatars - friends are recognizable, but it's imperfect.

In the metaverse, a hacker could hijack your identity or make you unknowingly execute a step in an act of fraud.

"The metaverse is much, much scarier than the Internet," Goldberg said.

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Identity theft and impersonation scams in the metaverse are much more intrusive, misleading and violating - not to mention the potential reputational or financial damage.

Right now, digital skepticism is relatively high - when you see an unrecognized number calling, you know it's probably spam.

But in the metaverse, if someone in your network is hacked, the hacker could appear before you in the metaverse in that person's virtual skin - now, you think you're dealing with a friend, but its a stranger with bad intentions.

"You can wear the skins and commit, not just fraud, but other acts which can be significantly more dangerous than if it just happened online," Goldberg said.

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In an example, Goldberg said a hacker could put out a call for testers of a new metaverse virtual world.

"Ultimately, what the fraudsters trying to do in the background is he's waiting for you to create that account with your clean IP, your clean email, your clean details, and he'll log in to your account."

Once in your account, the hacker could contact your friends (while posing as you!) and ask for money, data or other information.

This example serves to the larger point that fraud in the metaverse is very achievable in its current state.

Metaverse enthusiasts tout it's decentralized and unregulated nature - in fact, one of the more popular worlds is called "Decentraland".

The harsh reality is human-led attacks on other users shot up in the last quarter of 2021 - fraudsters see an opportunity, and are making the metaverse their criminal playground.

"The gatekeepers to the metaverse are the technology companies," and the onus to build a trusted network is on them, Goldberg said.

At Identiq, the cybersecurity brand where Goldberg serves as Chief Marketing Officer, the company offers a frictionless way to validate users without spilling their information all over the web.

Identiq scrambles users information using a method called multi-party computation - it's algorithm that uses addition to shield data points.

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Validation and security tools like Identiq should protect legitimate users from the bad actors.

Mark Zuckerberg's Meta, the brand that famously failed to protect data, is a leading investor in metaverse-related projects - but the very concept of a virtual reality world won't survive without airtight security.

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