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The Dark Web of the Metaverse: Should We Be Worried?

Photo by NASA / Unsplash

Trend Micro, one of the leading companies in endpoint and cloud cybersecurity recently issued a report warning of the so-called ‘Darkverse’—that’s right, the dark web could be coming to the metaverse, too. Like any technology or system, the metaverse will be used for both good and bad. But should we be worried, and what can be done?

From Metaverse to Metaworse

You’ve probably heard of the dark web.  but it’s not as mysterious as it might seem. Simply put, the dark web is a subset of the web; a collection of websites and services that are not indexed by search engines and are only accessible through special software or authorizations.

While these sites are often used for illicit activities like hiring hitmen, purchasing illegal drugs or selling weapons, there are also many legitimate uses. For example, the dark web can be used to access censored information or to communicate anonymously—something especially useful for whistleblowers to protect their identities.

So if there’s a dark web, and the metaverse is the next iteration of the internet, it’s natural to think there might be a ‘Darkverse’. That’s exactly what Trend Micro warn of in their recent report. They suggest a number of uncertainties surround the metaverse and its future laws.

The Darkverse

A lack of oversight from regulators and legal bodies has the potential to birth opportunities for criminals to communicate and complete illicit activities through  a ‘dark side’ of the metaverse—criminals could access hidden virtual worlds through specific access tokens and other authorization techniques, solely for committing crimes.

This could be troublesome considering how nascent the metaverse is. Risk managers and tech experts will have to do their due diligence with this new architecture to make sure people are protected. But just like with the darkweb, these spaces will be a place for free speech and anonymous communication: A haven from the all-seeing eye of Big Brother.

But maybe, if the metaverse is the open and decentralized utopia that many promise, these havens won’t be necessary.  

What Can Be Done?

Technological marvels like the internet and the metaverse need to be built from the ground up with sturdy foundations. For example, just as the internet requires primitive, standardized protocols for its operation, the metaverse too will require standards for interoperability to ensure that it’s both open and benefits as many people as possible.

Maybe part of this foundation should be standardized security protocols. As Trend Micro put it, “more and more companies are investing in metaverse hardware and software — this is the time to make sure security is fully ingrained in the development and production of those technologies.”

But no matter what, the field of cybersecurity is an endless battle as cybercriminals constantly find new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in our online systems, and security experts race to find these before they’re exploited or create new defense to keep us safe—this won’t change in the metaverse, and the race will continue.

All in all, most of us don’t come into contact with the dark web, and as long as you’re careful with your security, you might have nothing to worry about when it comes to the darkverse.