the dark side of the Metaverse where cybercriminals organize

Social engineering, propaganda, fraud and theft of Nft, Trend Micro highlights with an analysis all the risks of the new company Meta.

Monsters will also be in the Metaverse. And they could be even scarier. Fraud, money laundering, exploitation of minors, disinformation, cyber attacks. By sticking your hands into the deep throat of darkness, you will find that and more. A macabre underground warehouse where illegal markets and violent content proliferate. The Darkverse is its evolution into power. More protected, real, impregnable and physical. More dangerous.

The alarm launched by Trend Micro

“Metaverse is a multi-billion dollar high-tech vision that will define the next era of the Internet. While we don’t know exactly how it will evolve, we need to start thinking now about how it will be exploited by cybercriminals .” said Gastone Nencini, Country Manager of Trend Micro Italia. “Given the high costs and jurisdictional challenges, law enforcement will typically struggle to police the metaverse in the early years. We must act now or risk a new Wild West developing in our digital world.”

The analysis by Trend Micro, a leading company in the cyber security sector, sounds the alarm and puts the risks of the Darkverse into the system. It is genetically more dangerous than the dark web. It is not indexed by standard search engines, users have a “physical” presence and are able to create protected spaces, shelters inaccessible to the police. Cybercriminals will be able to virtually enter illegal markets, create new ones, and it would be impossible for the police to infiltrate without the right authentication tokens. A shelter may also be visible but still inaccessible.

What is “metacrime” based on?

The Darkverse could become the appropriate cover for the development of several threats: financial fraud, e-commerce, theft of NFTs or even ransomware. The cyber-physical nature of the Metaverse will open new doors for cybercriminals who may attempt to compromise spaces managed by critical infrastructure operators with the aim of sabotaging or blackmailing industrial systems. They will also be able to plan and test crimes that will then be replicated in the real world.

NFTs will be, and already partially are, used to define ownership in the metaverse. This indicates that they will increasingly be targeted by phishing, ransomware and fraud. The problem is that if the data files were encrypted in a ransomware attack, the user would remain the owner without being able to access their assets unless they pay a ransom. Not only that, the artwork could easily be tampered with. This is demonstrated by Moxie Marlinspike, a cyber security expert who managed to change an NFT based on who saw it. There can therefore be several very similar versions of the same work, allowing you to maximize your earnings by reselling them at the price of the original.

The metaverse will also be fertile ground for social engineering, propaganda and fake news. Everything will have more impact in a cyber-physical world. Influential news reports or stories will be used by criminals or other entities to target sensitive groups on certain topics. It will also be easier to control public opinion in classic echo bubbles that will have greater resonance. Privacy will also be redefined. Visibility in the metaverse will be unprecedented.

A practical example

In 2019, a transnational human trafficking network used Facebook to sell and sexually structure 20 women. They were lured on social media and convinced to move to Dubai to work in a massage parlor. Actually a cover for a brothel. 100 fake Facebook and Instagram accounts were used to recruit victims.

Translate everything in the metaverse. First, it would be more difficult for the police to infiltrate the cats to find evidence and identify criminals. Even if he found them, he would need authentication tokens to access them. Not only that, metaverse “sex slaves” could also be secretly sold through fake avatars or profiles. Trivially, the hyper-realism that permeates the platform could represent an advantage for criminals who would be more credible in the eyes of victims.

Zuckerberg’s virtual world, colorful, interactive, full of avatars moving around in what appears to be one big playground, is just the other side of the coin. Meta is investing billions to create a new world of infinite possibilities almost from scratch. A world that already carries all the sins of the web in its belly.

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