The “dark verse”, the hidden and illegal side of the metaverse?

The metaverse is in vogue, and many projects are proliferating, promising virtual community worlds where everyone could find themselves. But could these new uses be accompanied by specific crime? This is the hypothesis developed by some cyber security experts. We take stock of what is taking shape for the future.

The future rise of “dark verse”?

Computer security firm Trend Micro recently published a report on the subject. She details it the potential security risks of the metaverse (or metaverse), which remains a relatively new field. According to her, Web3’s virtual worlds could have their illegal counterpart, dubbed the occasion “darkverse”.

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As a reminder, the dark web is the part of the web not indexed by traditional search engines that is only accessible by using specific protocols. These networks are often published for illegal content and services they may offerincluding drug platforms such as the defunct Silk Road.

According to the Trend Micro report, these practices could extend to the metaversecreates a dark verse:

In some way, [le darkverse] is more dangerous than the dark web, due to users’ pseudo-physical presence. It mimics secret physical dates, as opposed to open threads on dark web crime forums.»

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Specific practice?

Darkverse could be used to provide illegal marketplaces, but also for other non-criminal purposes:

This space could also be used to promote freedom of expression against oppressive entities or governments.»

If darkness sees the birth of illegal digital sites, access may require identification tokens, likely in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This would then pose a problem for the police who would have no way to get into it. Another hypothesis about restricting access: Users can potentially only enter this type of place if they are physically present in a certain area.

As we can see, the potential risks raised by the report are not entirely different of those that already exist with the darknet. The presence of “pseudo-physical” users does not fundamentally change the operation of this type of network, the addition of an avatar is in itself only a means of interacting in a different way with these virtual universes.

Of course, these are only projections and it is difficult at this stage to assess whether or not criminals will seize these new tools and what the real extent of this will be.

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Other Metaverse Risks

However, the report is more specific when he talks about the generic risks associated with the metaverse. He thus points the finger at money laundering linked to digital properties offered in the form of NFTs. This is already a suspected practice by a section of the community as non-fungible tokens can fetch colossal prices.

Or else, privacy issues are also raised. Indeed, the actions of users of the metaverse could theoretically be monitored by the operators of virtual worlds, which could give them great indirect power. The “real” movements of users of headsets or other connected objects could also be monitored. This collected data can then be used for attacks based on social engineering (social engineering). Not to mention the ethical questions it may raise.

The report also points the finger the use of deep fakes, which is increasingly present and could find a place of choice in the metaverse. The blurred line between real and virtual could facilitate certain practices.

Like any new technology sector, the evolution of the metaverse will therefore necessarily be accompanied by problems to be solved :

We expect that there will be many issues that need to be resolved in order for the metaverse to become a reality. No company can afford to build the metaverse alone.»

The media treatment of a possible “darkverse” should in any case follow the codes established with the current darknet. It will therefore be necessary to discern what reveals FUD and what really poses a problem for users.

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Source: Trend Micro

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