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Zombies will exist in the metaverse, and they can actually harm you in real life

This is a moment that many of us have seen several times in various zombie films: In the guise of one raging, squirming mass of diseased flesh, a howling horde makes its way toward the outpost. They’re just too numerous! Put your guard down! The sound of gunfire, now distant and stuttering. A manic staccato representing the desperate escape of the lone survivor… There was then a pause followed by complete quiet.

The attack that was put up by 250,000 “zombies,” or hacked devices, using a variant of the famed Mirai botnet called Mris (Latvian for “plague”) last summer would have put the one seen above to shame. Researchers found that the botnet could send as many as 21.8 million requests per second to its targets, causing their already overburdened systems to fail.

A recent analysis found that the number of distributed denial of service attacks increased by 37% in 2021. Attackers can use compromised IoT devices to create botnets. And the reality is, we’re just getting started. Some of the current unwindings in the IT industry might play into the hands of hackers and pave the way for even more severe attacks.

Since the parent company of Facebook changed its name to Meta, there has been widespread excitement in some circles of the tech industry about the metaverse, an augmented and virtual reality fusion. For the time being, this translates to you having to wear a funny-looking helmet on your head while in a business conference with animated 3D cartoons of your investors.

In a nutshell, this means there will be an increase in the number of Internet-enabled gadgets in use at both the office and the home. Even if two cellphones are all that is required to do business in the metaverse (through Zoom), the market for conference cameras has recently seen a significant uptick. You want top-notch clarity and sound quality on your calls, so you invest in cutting-edge technology that can provide it. To ensure everyone’s safety, it would be wise to install motion and body heat detectors to limit congestion. Add a data platform to collect the sensor data and construct a full management system, and you’ll be in the money.

It’s still a long way off before any office, factory, power plant, or other commercial or industrial building can be converted into a metaverse hub. However, this would very certainly necessitate introducing a large number of networked gadgets. If we’re no longer satisfied with simply interacting with the digital world through a screen, we’ll need to incorporate headsets, which have yet to become widespread, sensor-outfitted wearables for improved VR/AR controls, and wall-mounted sensors. The Internet of Things (IoT) device industry was booming even before the metaverse idea caught on, and its growth would be catalysed even more by the arrival of the metaverse.

This next part is unfortunately true. Before going on a metaverse-inspired Internet of Things buying spree, we might want to take a step back and collect our thoughts, as we are frequently unable to adequately secure the devices we currently have in place.

Uncanny computer phenomena

A serious vulnerability exists in the IoT industry. A recent study of IT experts found that improper management of connected devices is their top security issue. To good effect, it appears, since a large increase from 2020 to 2021 was seen in the number of IoT devices compromised by hackers over the six months of January to June 2021: 1.5 billion. While some cyberattacks may amount to nothing more than an amusing prank, others can lead to serious losses of information and expensive recovery efforts. The latter are the ones that businesses would rather not talk about, thus a certain fog of war exists.

However, even with the knowledge we now possess, a successful assault directed through or against a connected device might do significant harm. It can disable electrical networks, stop production lines, or provide attackers with an intimate look at the target’s inner workings via compromised cameras.

According to the same logic, there will certainly be even larger botnets in the future due to the increase of susceptible gadgets. In a world where the SaaS model is rapidly becoming the dominant one in the software market, their capacity to take down websites and online services is already a major concern. If your customers need to access your server (whether on-premises or in the cloud) in order to utilise your services, then any assault that disrupts that connection threatens your entire operation.

As an added bonus, botnets may be used for more than just sending connection requests to whoever their masters detest the most. A botnet’s ability to actively spread malware makes it a potent multiplier in any attack. For espionage, blackmail, or a targeted phishing effort, it may harvest sensitive data from its army of zombified gadgets. Expert hackers can even try their hands at more outlandish methods, such as disrupting the power supply to a single network, which might have disastrous consequences in the midst of a cold winter.

Even if the campaign for the metaverse succeeds, that won’t be enough to foster the growth of the greatest botnet ever; that tendency has been building steam for quite some time. However, if proper safety and security measures are not taken into account, it may be the final spark that ignites a raging avalanche, therefore we had best start getting ready to fight off those zombie hordes right now.