Preparing for AR’s Influence on Cybersecurity – Infosecurity Magazine

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In recent months, Apple has announced the launch of its first 3D camera, the Apple Vision Pro. Naturally, this has garnered much excitement because it is attempting to create further bridges for augmented reality (AR) to be used in the real world aside from just gaming and entertainment purposes.

The use of AR in many industries can potentially reshape operational frameworks and redefine user interactions; for example, it can lead to further healthcare innovations, create new engaging retail experiences and even manufacturing enhancements.

However, before we get too carried away, we must explore the symbiotic relationship between AR and cybersecurity because, at the end of the day, AR is still a technology and being relatively new, can give life to many new cyber threats.

What Are the Threats From Augmented Reality?

The use of AR technology might be fun initially, but there is a real possibility that these devices will become funnels for live cyber-attacks including data breaches, privacy incidents as well as play host to sophisticated social engineering scams.

Furthermore, malicious threat actors can look to misuse AR technology to create convincing deepfakes to dupe unsuspecting victims or to spread misinformation in the coming months due to both the UK and US having significant political elections this year. This is just the tip of the iceberg of emerging threats that surround the AR world, and much attention is required to ensure these spaces are protected.

Another area of concern is the apps used by AR devices that are available for download. Indeed, Apple and Google have their own app stores that are continually monitored and vetted for malicious apps. But, as AR technology becomes more accessible, the demand for more applications will increase leading to more app developers supplying applications to capitalize on the demand.

Yet, we will likely see cheaper and less secure applications created and placed on alternative app stores or downloaded from untrusted sources. This will only increase the likelihood of malicious malware being installed on the AR device to steal data, spy or control the device.

Owners of AR headsets should be aware that these devices also collect a lot of data when in use, in particular location tracking and GPS and spatial mapping information. Again, these can be leveraged by malicious threat actors to track an individual without their knowledge.

The advent of AR can also lead to digital vandalism. To get the image through a device, AR will overlay digital objects in the real world. Such images could be hijacked by criminals to digitally prank or vandalize the user’s space, which will lead to a negative experience and even cause mental distress or even lead to a physical incident.

Ultimately, the reality presented by AR isn’t real and can become distorted, particularly if fake imagery and data is displayed to the user. In doing so, accidents can occur.

Augmented Reality’s Potential in Cybersecurity

Sure, there are risks associated with AR but this technology could also be a useful tool to aid cybersecurity professionals.

Much like pilots get put into AR simulations during training, cybersecurity professionals could be placed into AR-enabled training scenarios, giving them the opportunity to immerse themselves in a security operations center (SOC) or similar to carry-out realistic tasks to help improve their skills.

Even to provide education training for the wider workforce, a cybersecurity training module that uses AR could be used to simulate phishing attacks, giving employees a real-time experience of what it is like to see, detect and respond to such threats more effectively.

Even from a solution standpoint, AR dashboards could display real-time network security monitoring for increased situational awareness. Moreover, AR devices could be utilized for physical security purposes, such as identity verification to gain access to certain areas within a facility.

Make Sure Augmented Reality Isn’t the Only Reality

Having covered the challenges and potentially use cases of AR in the context of cybersecurity, it’s clear there is a lot for the community to consider. Technical complexities demand robust AR security protocols, while ethical concerns arise regarding surveillance applications.

Balancing innovation with privacy becomes paramount, underscoring the need for AR-specific cybersecurity policies and standards.

Before immersing oneself in the augmented world, users must carefully consider factors such as privacy policies, security features, app marketplaces, update policies and the long-term effects on screen time. Therefore, policies and strategies should be put in place to limit usage, block apps and monitor overall usage to negate any potential risks.

More Awareness Leads to Better Security

As new technologies get introduced to the world, especially those that find their way to general consumers, cybersecurity concerns will always be a top issue. The growing usage of AR is no different.

Therefore, proactive exploration and seamless integration of AR technologies into cybersecurity strategies are essential. We are now living in a time where there are intriguing prospects for both cybersecurity professionals and AR developers.

With AI, deepfakes and misinformation rising and adding further complexity to the cybersecurity landscape, AR will add another layer of interest for both cybercriminals and cybersecurity advocates.

Heightened awareness about this technology is needed as well as appropriate regulatory measures to ensure risks are kept to a minimum. In doing so, we will help to foster a more secure digital environment for all. 

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