Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have a close relationship with each other. Albeit not siblings, call them cousins. The former enhances the world by adding digital elements to the real-world view in all terms. A well-known example is Pokemon Go.
Virtual Reality makes its own virtual environment. It is often used via an interface (Goggles), and helps users be immersed into the virtual world.
Mixed Reality (MR) is a new entry and a descendant of them both. It has similarities with AR but is miles ahead of it. It uses three-dimensional (3D) content which is responsive and is also aware of its surroundings. MR can help users manipulate both physical and virtual items and environments.
The umbrella term for them all is extended reality which combines all three: AR, VR and MR. The market for hardware, software, and associated devices plus services for all of them is growing and is a lucrative one. But one problem exists: There are security issues in them.
Concerns and issues about privacy and security in Augmented and Virtual Reality
There are certain dangers and pitfalls regarding the security of users’ privacy in the Extended Reality (ER) universe. AR technologies can observe the activities of users and even mimic them. It even collects a load of information about users and their activities to the point that even social media platforms seem to look harmless. Here are some concerns and questions about AR being a security threat:
- Once hackers obtain access to a device, the loss of privacy is evident.
- How can AR companies utilize and secure users’ information gathered?
- Where do companies store data from augmented reality i.e. on local servers or in cloud servers? (in case the cloud is being used, are the data and information encrypted in a secure manner?)
- Are AR companies sharing information with third parties? How do they use and share that information if they do so?
According to professionals providing the best website protection services in the New York metropolitan area, here are some points proving AR to be a nuisance:
- Unreliable content.
- Social engineering tactics are rie.
- Malware is omnipresent.
- Network credentials are often stolen.
- Denial of Service resulting in DoS and DDoS attacks.
- The possibility of man-in-the-middle attacks is always high.
- Ransomware is spread.
- Physical and mental damage in people.
Virtual reality is also flirting with danger
Unfortunately, virtual reality is also dangerous. It is flirting with danger and its pitfalls are not an easy job. VR is limited to closed environments and it also does not involve any interaction with the physical world.
VR headsets cover the vision of their users completely. When hackers take over the devices, it becomes a matter of security, sanctity, and health. It even becomes a matter of life and death. Content can be subverted, causing nausea, migraines, dizziness, stress, and in some cases, epilepsy.
In both AR and VR privacy is a major concern. A key issue of such in VR is that the data collected is highly personal. Biometric data, iris and retinal scans, fingerprints, handprints, facial recognition, geometry and voice recognition.
- Finger tracking data collection is unsafe: Users in the virtual world use hand gestures the way they do in the real world. They can use typing gestures whilst using virtual keypads for typing. This reveals that the system transmits finger-tracking data to servers. Once that data is hacked, the wrong kind of people can access it. Attackers can hence recreate pin codes of users and wreak havoc.
- Eye-tracking is wrongly used: Some AR & VR headsets have eye-tracking mechanisms. The data collected gives hackers value as they know precisely what a user looked at and how they looked at it. They use it to recapture users’ emotions.
Can’t AR and VR be made anonymous?
Unfortunately, that is not possible. The reason is that in both AR and VR track data and also keep records of users’ movement patterns. This in fact is very disastrous and this puts users’ behavioral & biological information at risk. VR headsets aren’t secure, and researchers have identified users having accurate movements are also at risk.
Here are some concerns why VR is dangerous:
- Infection with ransomware a possibility.
- Fake identities and deepfakes are common.
- Addiction is a possibility.
- Human health is adversely impacted. Nausea, dizziness and lack of awareness of surroundings because of prolonged use is highly probable.
- Human connection is gone.