Web3 is the evolution of the internet, where the centralized control mechanism is eliminated, and data ownership is given back to the users. The technology that underpins Web3 is blockchain, which is a distributed ledger that provides secure and immutable data storage. Web3 has been touted for its decentralization and user-centricity. However, when it comes to security and threat detection, Web3 is outgunned. Web3 has five main blockchain security threat vectors, including user vulnerabilities, API and Oracle vulnerabilities, off- and on-chain data vulnerabilities, smart contract vulnerabilities, and node vulnerabilities.
Therefore, organizations must consider post-deployment security. They must ask themselves, for example: “What happens when their protocol gets attacked due to an unknown vulnerability? Who gets notified? How are those attacks mitigated?” Moreover, end-users have been mostly left unsupported, and phishing and digital asset theft are prominent. In this article, we will explore what security in the metaverse may look like.
Web3 is considered the internet of value because it allows for the exchange of value, with users having ownership of their data and assets. This shift in ownership will change the way security is implemented in the future.
For example, in the current Web2 environment, organizations are responsible for securing user data, while in Web3, users will have to take responsibility for their security. Therefore, the key to security in the metaverse is to empower users to take control of their data and assets.
One of the ways to empower users is through decentralized identity constructs (DCI), which can be implemented using tokenization and self-hosted wallets. Decentralized systems remove the need for repeated identity proofing across services and support common authentication services by removing the need for multiple credentials. Avivah Litan, a Gartner distinguished VP analyst, predicts that by 2025, at least 10% of users under 20 years old will have a decentralized identity wallet on their mobile device for managing their identity attributes and making verifiable claims.
The use of blockchain technology in Web3 means that the data is cryptographically secured, but it does not mean that the data is always legitimate. There are several points of vulnerability in blockchain networks, including user vulnerabilities, API and Oracle vulnerabilities, off- and on-chain data vulnerabilities, smart contract vulnerabilities, and node vulnerabilities.
To address these vulnerabilities, potential solutions include identity proofing, endpoint protection, user authentication, decentralized consensus of data reads and writes, cross-checks on data validity, storing data off-chain, privacy-preserving protocols, user access control, code reviews, baseline smart contract execution, fine-grained smart contract access control, behavior anomaly detection, dynamic execution analysis during runtime, vulnerability scans, and forensic analysis.
Currently, protocols primarily rely on smart contract audits for their security. According to Forta research, funds lost in smart contract exploits rose from $215 million in 2020 to $2.7 billion in 2022. Therefore, organizations must consider post-deployment security. They must ask themselves, for example: “What happens when their protocol gets attacked due to an unknown vulnerability? Who gets notified? How are those attacks mitigated?” Moreover, end-users have been mostly left unsupported, and phishing and digital asset theft are prominent.
Web3’s decentralized structure means that traditional security measures such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDS) may not be effective. Instead, security measures will have to be implemented at the application level.
The application itself must be secured, and the data transmitted between the application and the user must also be secured. This means that the security of Web3 applications will have to be built into the development process from the ground up.
One of the ways to implement security at the application level is through secure coding practices. Secure coding practices should be an essential component of the development process for any Web3 application. It involves following a set of guidelines and best practices to ensure that the code is free from vulnerabilities and that it adheres to industry-standard security practices. This includes using secure coding frameworks, performing static code analysis, performing dynamic testing, and implementing code review processes.
Another crucial component of Web3 security is the need for decentralized consensus. Web3 networks are built on a decentralized model, which means that there is no central authority to verify the accuracy of data. This is where decentralized consensus comes in. It involves multiple nodes on the network coming to a consensus on the accuracy of data through a process called mining. This process ensures that data on the network is verified by multiple nodes, making it difficult for attackers to manipulate the data.
Additionally, Web3 applications must implement user access control measures. This involves ensuring that only authorized users can access the application’s features and functionality. This can be achieved through the use of multi-factor authentication, biometric authentication, and other secure authentication methods.
Finally, organizations must consider post-deployment security measures, such as vulnerability scans and forensic analysis. These measures involve scanning the application for vulnerabilities and weaknesses regularly, and conducting forensic analysis to determine the root cause of any security incidents that occur. This can help organizations quickly identify and mitigate security threats before they become major issues.
Web3 represents a significant shift in the way we interact with the internet, enabling users to have more control over their data and assets. However, this decentralization also presents significant security challenges, with various points of vulnerability in blockchain networks. To address these challenges, organizations must adopt a comprehensive security strategy that includes empowering users through decentralized identity constructs, implementing secure coding practices, ensuring decentralized consensus, implementing user access control measures, and conducting regular vulnerability scans and forensic analysis.
As the metaverse becomes more integrated into our daily lives, it is crucial that we prioritize security to ensure that users can enjoy the benefits of Web3 without compromising their data and assets.