Are you worried about cybercrimes in the metaverse? Let’s go through some simple steps to help you understand and avoid fraud in the metaverse.
According to the press release published by Gartner, 25% of people are expected to spend at least one hour per day in the metaverse by 2026.
That’s some interesting data. But you might wonder why someone spends their time in the metaverse.
Let’s get straight into the metaverse right away!
What is the Metaverse?
Metaverse is a virtual space that connects people from all over the world. Likewise, you can use this space for work, entertainment, education, or social interaction.
The metaverse is in its early stage. Hence it will take time and technological development to provide users with an immersive virtual experience.
In the metaverse platforms, you can create avatars to represent yourself. Apart from that, you can buy and sell digital assets using cryptocurrencies.
In the future, the metaverse will play a crucial role in different industries. There will be a positive impact on remote working, entertainment, education, social media, gaming, banking, and health care. Right now, the majority of developments are in the gaming sector.
Microsoft’s plan to acquire Activision Blizzard, a leading American video game company, is a major deal related to the metaverse. Once this deal is approved, Microsoft Gaming will become the third-largest gaming company.
Microsoft also developed its metaverse platform, Mesh, for Microsoft Teams during the pandemic in 2021. The main aim behind this virtual space was to make work more fun, interactive, and productive.
Meta’s Horizon World is another metaverse that allows you to create avatars and hang out with friends. Moreover, you can meet new people, attend virtual parties and events, play games, and more.
With the wider adoption of the metaverse comes the possibility of fraudulent activities. While embracing virtual technology, it is also important to avoid becoming a victim of metaverse fraud.
What Makes the Metaverse Prone to Fraud?
Members of Interpol had previously expressed concern about metaverse-based cybercrime. As a result, Interpol announced its metaverse, designed for law enforcement.
You might have understood the level of risk factors associated with the metaverse. Keeping this in mind, let’s have a look at some major vulnerabilities related to this virtual world:
#1. Limited Entry Barriers
In the metaverse, it is easy to create accounts. For instance, anyone can create multiple accounts with a few mouse clicks.
Here’s where fraudsters find opportunities to target their victims. Metaverse allows users to create different accounts without any verification process.
#2. Lack of Awareness
The entry of leading brands into the metaverse made people interested in this virtual world. For instance, Bloomberg Intelligence expects the metaverse market to touch $800 billion by 2024.
A massive number of people join the metaverse without proper guidance or understanding. This situation provides scammers with new possibilities.
#3. Absence of Regulatory Authorities
Most metaverses use blockchain technology. As a result, no central organization or authority controls or manages these virtual spaces.
The decentralized nature of blockchain provides users with various benefits such as ownership, transparency, and more. However, fraudsters misuse the absence of regulation to scam users.
#4. User Data Availability
With millions of people entering the virtual world, the amount of data created and stored also rises. This massive data is also what fraudsters want to access.
The number of metaverse platforms and projects is increasing. On the negative side, this rapid development with lesser security puts user data at risk.
What are the Fraud Risks in the Metaverse?
The vulnerabilities associated with metaverse also put users at various risks. Let’s take a look at the major risks involved:
#1. Data Leakage
As we have discussed the availability of massive user data, the possibility of data leakage is also high. Once attackers gain access to user data, the possibilities for data misuse are endless.
Identity theft is one major issue associated with data leakage. Here, fraudsters use stolen information to create fake metaverse accounts.
The fake accounts are then used to conduct other metaverse crimes. Besides, fraudsters also build avatars using other users’ images to gain trust.
#2. Cyber Theft
Cyber theft in the metaverse involves stealing the user’s virtual assets. The digital assets targeted by spammers include cryptocurrencies, virtual lands, or NFTs.
According to CNBC Investigates, Kasha, a metaverse investor, fell into the fraudster’s trap. She mistakenly entered the phishing link to Decentraland and connected her MetaMask wallet to that site.
A few minutes after connecting her wallet, Kasha lost all her virtual lands. According to her words, she received no warning or notification related to the transaction.
Apart from Kasha, another metaverse investor, Tracy lost her virtual lands to spammers. She lost virtual property worth $20,000.
These are a few examples of those affected by metaverse fraud.
#3. Influencer Fraud
Influencer fraud is another possible threat to the metaverse. In this process, scammers hack high-profile social media accounts to promote their scams.
Fake social media posts from popular and verified accounts could potentially trap online users. Most such posts include giveaways and a time limit.
Crypto scammers have hacked celebrity Twitter accounts. They tweeted with their crypto wallet address, promising users to double their Bitcoins.
The hacked official Twitter accounts include Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet. Sooner or later, similar scenarios can take place in metaverse fraud.
#4. Vulnerable AR and VR Devices
With the wider adoption of the metaverse, the demand for AR and VR devices is rising. Moreover, these metaverse headsets help users to provide a more immersive experience.
The AR/VR headset market reached 14 million units in 2022 and is expected to reach 18.8 million in 2023. The rising demand also opens the possibility for device hacking and security issues.
VR or AR devices are capable of collecting large amounts of personal data. Apart from that, there is also a risk involved in exposing biometric information.
Exposure to biometric data such as retina scans, face mapping, voiceprints, and fingerprint data is a great concern. This data can be misused to access users’ financial and social media accounts.
Gaining access to AR/VR devices provides access to all user data stored in the devices.
Steps to Prevent Fraud in the Metaverse
With the intensity of risk around the metaverse, educating yourself is important to avoid getting scammed. Let’s go through some important steps:
#1. Do Your Research
The first step is to research the metaverse project before stepping in. Conducting a few basic searches helps you to get a basic idea of the virtual platform.
The credibility of the project and its founders play a crucial role. Avoid the platforms run by untrustworthy individuals.
Make sure to enter platforms with secure websites. Also, ensure they have an active online community and social media presence.
#2. Avoid Financial or Personal Discussions With Avatars
As mentioned earlier, scammers can create multiple accounts and avatars. So make sure to refrain from sharing your financial details with them.
Apart from the financial discussion, you should also not share your personal information. Even knowing your basic details can put your metaverse account at risk.
#3. Stay Away From Investment Advice and Offers
Fraudsters target users with different approaches. One popular method is by providing investment and trading suggestions.
In addition, they might pretend to be a financial expert to gain your attention and trust.
For example, scammers approach their target, promising high rewards or returns. Besides, they might also show fake proofs or reviews.
#4. Never Store or Share Banking Information
It’s better to avoid platforms that ask for your banking information. Also, avoid storing or saving financial details on metaverse.
#5. Enable Security Features
Make sure to turn on all the security options to protect your account.
Also, make use of the verification process if available. For example, multi-factor authentication can provide you with extra protection.
#6. Protect Your Wallet
Along with bank accounts, crypto wallets are a major target for fraudsters. Never share the private keys of your wallet with anyone.
Scammers are capable of sending fake wallet connection requests. Ignore such unknown requests.
Most metaverse platforms ask you to connect with your crypto wallet. These wallets allow you to buy, sell and trade digital assets. In that case, consider creating a free new wallet.
#7. Ignore Flashy Social Media Promotions
Social media platforms are filled with crypto and metaverse promotions. For a normal person, it’s difficult to identify the credibility of such online activities.
Most metaverse-based campaigns include the promotion of virtual lands. Therefore as an informed social media user, you should use only authentic metaverse platforms.
If you are not aware or confident about something, staying away is the best option.
Finally, keep up to date on metaverse, crypto, and blockchain technology.
Metaverse is going to change our digital lives in the coming years. Also, this virtual space will create a significant positive impact across all major industries.
Along with entry into the metaverse, it’s also important to identify the risks involved. Once you know about these risks, take the necessary precautions to avoid getting spammed.
The easy way to avoid fraud in the metaverse is to follow the steps mentioned in this article. By doing so, you’ll be able to protect yourself from major scams.
Next, you can check out the top metaverse crypto tokens.