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How Virtual Reality Can Improve Cybersecurity

  • 22 February 2022

As the information society has developed, more and more aspects of human life have penetrated the domain of cyberspace. An increasing number of individuals, companies, institutions, and even governments have moved many of their daily activities to the digital world, hoping to benefit from its global reach, low usage costs, and the ability to access it instantly from almost anywhere. Many Internet users cannot imagine life without fast access to the latest news, online banking, e-commerce, e-ticket booking, or contact with family and friends through social media and online communicators. But are we safe while surfing the Internet? What kind of threats can we encounter? Can virtual reality help minimize the risks? Read on to learn more about virtual reality in cyber security.

Virtual reality – what is it?

Virtual reality (VR) is a three-dimensional image created by a computer or other device. VR can present us with any kind of object we can think of and can even depict entire events. Depending on the concept, virtual reality can be based on real-world elements, but it can also be entirely fictional. To put it simply, VR is a virtual imitation of reality.

It allows users to immerse all their senses within three-dimensional digital worlds. It is a rapidly growing sector of technology that has moved far beyond simple entertainment – VR is now used in training, medicine, industry, the military, and a whole host of other sectors which you maybe wouldn’t expect.

Internet use and cybersecurity

Accessible through computers, smartphones, and even cars or refrigerators, the Internet has become one of our primary daily consumables, alongside electricity, gas, and water. It is synonymous with freedom of speech and the smooth flow of information, and in some cases, it has successfully served as a tool for revolution and social change. However, while cyberspace is becoming a virtual reflection of physical reality, unfortunately, it has also been infiltrated by nefarious and even criminal elements. But what are they?

Some of the most common cyber threats include:

  • malware attacks (malware, viruses, worms, etc.),
  • identity theft,
  • blocking access to services (mail bombs, DoS, and DDoS19),
  • spam (unsolicited or unnecessary e-mails),
  • data theft and socio-technical attacks (e.g., phishing, which tricks people into giving out confidential information by impersonating a trustworthy person or institution).

APT (advanced persistent threat) attacks are a growing challenge to Internet security. They combine various tools (social engineering, software, etc.) and often take weeks or even months to prepare. Nevertheless, the organized groups which carry them out usually have significant budgets and time to infiltrate specific targets – a company or institution – and then precisely carry out the attack, aiming to steal sensitive data or damage/destroy a computer system. One example of an APT is the use of the Stuxnet worm, which delayed Iran’s nuclear program, among other things.

Virtual Reality and cybersecurity – how can they support each other?

Business owners and government officials know that the best way to avoid and prevent cyberattacks is by improving cyber awareness. It is not just about buying the appropriate hardware and software; fully educating and training your entire staff is crucial as cyber security concerns everyone.

With the help of virtual reality, much more effective training can be conducted. Through VR, users have the opportunity to see and understand the problems of cyber security more clearly. Most importantly, they are more emotionally involved in the experience, which makes it much easier to achieve the so-called “aha” moment ‒ when they reach a state of sudden awareness where they better understand the problem.

Learning through VR engages multiple senses to ensure a better understanding of the content. With the help of virtual reality, it is possible to convey cyber security principles to employees in an accessible way and help security professionals better monitor, assess, and eliminate cyberattacks as everything is done in a virtual world under controlled conditions.

For example, it becomes possible to present a realistic scenario in which cyber security professionals and employees can practice identifying possible attacks. During such events, workers can learn to spot potential threats more effectively and gain a better understanding of the consequences of transferring data or poor password security so that they can avoid these problems in the future.

VR technology and learning about cybersecurity

People assimilate knowledge much better when authentic emotions accompany the learning process. The possibility to become immersed in a virtual world and to analyze different cyber security scenarios in a safe environment means that anyone can easily learn about what threats to look out for online. This ultimately leads to lasting behavioral changes and improved cyber awareness across the board. So, VR can have huge benefits for cybersecurity and with its help, we can make the data of workers, companies, and ordinary people much safer, meaning a more secure online space for all.

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