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Unlocking the Metaverse: Protecting Privacy and Security in a Digital Frontier


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    Last week, the Virtru Federal Team was on the ground in St. Louis, Missouri, at the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s 2023 GEOINT Symposium. This year’s symposium had over 4,000 members of the geospatial community come together to share knowledge, promote, and apply GEOINT to address national security concerns along this year’s theme, GEOINT: From Maps to the Metaverse.

    During GEOINT Forward, a panel on Privacy and Security in the Metaverse particularly piqued Virtru's interest, given our mission to safeguard data and ensure data sovereignty. While many people eagerly explore the metaverse, embracing its immersive and limitless possibilities, concerns about the privacy and security of participants in this emerging digital realm give us pause.

    To set the tone for the discussion, panel moderator Dan Opstal, Executive Secretary of the Civil Applications Committee, shared an interesting statistic: A person that spends just 20 minutes in a virtual reality (VR) experience will generate over 2 million unique data elements. This is proof of just how amazing the metaverse is – yet, it is deeply concerning if you think about how each of those 2 million data elements are handled. Many ask themselves, What is that data being used for? Who is able to see that data about me? As more individuals participate in these immersive experiences, protection of personal information and our digital presence becomes paramount.

    At Virtru, safeguarding sensitive data in our interconnected world is our top priority and everything we stand for. The panel discussion’s key points on privacy and security in the metaverse align with how we execute our data-centric security approach. It is our mission to strike the perfect balance between security and collaboration and we remain resolute in determining the best path forward, as technology changes and as we all forge through the uncharted territory of the metaverse.   

    There’s a Big Difference Between Individual and Aggregated Data

    To ensure privacy and security in the metaverse, panelist Auren Hoffman, CEO of Safegraph, highlighted the need to properly distinguish between data concerning specific individuals and aggregated data. Collecting aggregated data can be useful for identifying important trends and patterns across users, whereas collecting individual data about a person can create significant privacy concerns. 

    Virtru provides solutions that respect this delineation. While personal data requires special protections, aggregated data must be able to provide valuable insights while safeguarding privacy. Through the incorporation of Data-Centric Security (DCS), Attribute-Based Access Controls (ABAC), and the Trusted Data Format (TDF), our end-to-end encryption and data protection tools ensure that individual data remains secure while enabling organizations to derive valuable insights from aggregated, anonymized data sets.

    Privacy Shouldn’t Be an Afterthought; Privacy Should Be Foundational

    Design plays a crucial role in the metaverse experience, and privacy must be a fundamental consideration from the outset as explained by panelist Lisa Maione, Assistant Professor in Graphic Design at the Kansas City Art Institute. By prioritizing user expectations and preferences, developers can create metaverse applications that empower users while still ensuring their privacy. 

    In the same vein, Virtru takes the user experience into the highest consideration by integrating privacy features seamlessly into the way people already work every day, ensuring that users can encrypt and control their data directly within their preferred applications or even on low-bandwidth devices like sensors. Privacy is an integral part of the user experience and must be baked in, not be an afterthought.

    Users Should Be Empowered to Control Their Data

    The panelists discussed the potential of metaverse applications to empower users. At Virtru, we embrace the concept of user empowerment by offering user-friendly encryption tools that put individuals and organizations in control of their data. With Virtru solutions, users can make informed choices about their privacy and be confident that their sensitive information remains protected.

    Embracing Regulatory Compliance Without Sacrificing Speed

    Panelist Kevin Compher, VP of Technology at In-Q-Tel spoke of how numerous technology-based companies prioritize the “need for speed” to conduct business over adhering to necessary cybersecurity standards like encryption. This dovetailed into a discussion on how regulations around the world are structured to manage privacy concerns, specifically citing Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

    Virtru recognizes the significance of regulatory compliance and helps organizations adhere to the most stringent of data protection laws. Our solutions provide granular access controls to ensure that organizations can comply with numerous privacy regulations and compliance regimes like CMMC, CUI, ITAR, CJIS, etc, without sacrificing security, compliance, or privacy for the sake of efficiency or necessary collaboration. It is data sovereignty at its best. 

    In the metaverse or the real world, your data should always be yours.

    By differentiating between individual and aggregated data, designing for privacy, empowering users, and embracing regulatory compliance, Virtru equips individuals and organizations with the tools they need to navigate the metaverse — and the real world — with the confidence that their data is always protected.

    In this evolving digital landscape, Virtru is a trusted partner, offering robust solutions to safeguard data at scale. We want to help create a world where privacy and security coexist harmoniously with innovation and limitless digital experiences. Contact our team to learn more. 

    Carissa Nee

    Carissa Nee

    With rich experience in the public sector, Carissa serves as Virtru’s Director of Field Marketing crafting creative strategies that drive adoption of data-centric security. She produces Virtru’s Voice of the Customer Webinar and podcast “Hash It Out.”

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