How collective action will secure the metaverse

A figure of a person created out of light to illustrate the importance of creating security in the metaverse

Inclusive partnership is needed to secure the metaverse Image: Photo by julien Tromeur on Unsplash

Daniel Dobrygowski
Head, Governance and Trust, World Economic Forum
Rebecca Ivey
Head of Global Collaboration Village, World Economic Forum
Paolo Dal Cin
Global Lead, Accenture Security, Accenture
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Tech and Innovation

  • The Global Collaboration Village, a World Economic Forum initiative in partnership with Accenture and Microsoft, is a purpose-driven platform, powered by next-generation technology.
  • The Forum's Defining and Building the Metaverse Initiative focuses on ethically guiding the broader metaverse's development through governance and value creation.
  • The Forum works collaboratively to establish a consultative and comprehensive approach to enhancing cybersecurity in the metaverse, ensuring trust, security and inclusivity in this new digital space.

In an era marked by the increasing integration of digital experiences into our lives, metaverse technologies are reshaping how we collaborate and interact in the online realm.

The World Economic Forum’s two distinct metaverse initiatives play a key role in this evolving landscape. The Global Collaboration Village and the Defining and Building the Metaverse Initiative each have a unique focus and goals. While the Global Collaboration Village primarily fosters collaborative problem-solving and innovation through immersive technologies, the Defining and Building the Metaverse Initiative is dedicated to guiding the ethical and responsible development of the broader metaverse concept, focusing on governance and value creation. Both initiatives are conducted in partnership with Microsoft and Accenture. Together, the three organisations share cybersecurity principles and approaches to ensure the safety and integrity of metaverse experiences.

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The importance of resilience in the metaverse

In the realm of new digital technologies, cybersecurity stands as a crucial element in developing and implementing principles that ensure the integrity and confidentiality of virtual interactions. This is the work being collaboratively undertaken by the Forum’s Defining and Building the Metaverse Initiative. It is also essential to maintain trust and reliability within this environment.

So, when we talk about cybersecurity in the metaverse, what do we mean? Cybersecurity encompasses several important technical components. Alongside those technical concerns are important governance questions around identity, data privacy and data sovereignty, where – in most cases — data is subject to the laws and governance of the country where it is located. These elements collectively form the groundwork for a secure metaverse.

Of paramount importance to security is how metaverse technologies are designed, developed and implemented. It is the Forum’s view, and that of our partners, that to enable safety and security, technologies need to be secure-by-design and developed with the capabilities and features needed to provide appropriate safety and security. Safe, secure and responsible use of metaverse technologies is needed to create systemic trust, integrity and resilience. Cybersecurity and information assurance are critical to achieving these outcomes.


How is the World Economic Forum contributing to the metaverse?

Trust, defined as confidence in the security, reliability, effective accountability and oversight of digital systems, is crucial for the successful adoption and utilization of emerging technologies. This trust also encompasses the assurance that these technologies are used in an inclusive, ethical and responsible manner. As these elements of trust are established, they facilitate collaboration, innovation and meaningful interactions within the metaverse. When users feel safe and secure, assured that the systems they engage with are robust and ethically managed, they are more likely to actively contribute, collaborate and explore. This enhanced user participation is essential for enriching the overall experience, driving the continuous growth and development of this transformative digital realm.

As part of the Forum's commitment to contributing to the development of a safe and inclusive metaverse, the Defining and Building the Metaverse Initiative seeks to guide the development of a safe, accessible, interoperable and economically viable metaverse. It does so by uniting stakeholders from various sectors, including government, academia, business and civil society via two interrelated tracks: metaverse governance and value creation. Both tracks take an ethical, forward-thinking approach and work collaboratively to balance governance with economic and social opportunities.

The governance track has developed knowledge and is building a global consensus on significant aspects of metaverse safety, including digital identity and authentication, along with combating privacy risks and fostering opportunities that should be considered by all stakeholders. The next phase of the governance track’s work will focus on the parameters of a secure and resilient metaverse that safeguards user experience, identity and data from evolving threats.


Our partners’ role in ensuring a secure metaverse

Like the Forum, Accenture believes that the success and resilience of the metaverse hinges on global cooperation among academics, policy-makers, product design teams and regulators. The firm collaborates with organizations, such as the Forum, to catalyze collective efforts to establish metaverse literacy programmes and comprehensive frameworks that safeguard the privacy, security and rights of individuals in this shared digital environment.

These efforts take numerous forms. For instance, metaverse literacy is being increased through the Global Collaboration Village Partner Community, where nearly 140 leading organizations, across business, government, civil society, knowledge networks and cultural institutions, are collectively shaping the Village through a number of task forces. These groups were established to share lessons learned, frameworks and best practices from their own organizations to develop the Village’s first Code of Conduct.

This time, we have a unique opportunity to shape emerging technologies like the metaverse to be responsible and trustworthy from the outset, rather than trying to retrofit security, as was done with many facets of Web 2.0. Grounded in the tenets of a responsible enterprise metaverse as put forward by Accenture, the Taskforce considered eight responsible metaverse principles, split between the trust and human dimensions.

Trust dimensions include privacy, resilience and security. These dimensions, along with intellectual property rights protection, ensure a high degree of confidence in the platform. Human dimensions protect the individual and cover safety, environmental sustainability, well-being and inclusion, diversity and accessibility.

Guidelines for a responsible and safe metaverse

The taskforce brainstormed how to create a responsible and safe environment in the Global Collaboration Village with guidelines across four different behaviours:

The GCV User Guidelines developed by the Village Community Guidelines Task Force.

We are navigating the realms of the metaverse and the next-generation technologies that power it. It's a thrilling journey with the potential to revolutionize our digital landscape. Amidst this transformation, however, we must recognize that, in the metaverse, as in the physical world, safety, trust and resilience should be the cornerstones upon which we build our digital future. Ensuring robust cybersecurity measures is not an option, but a necessity.

The World Economic Forum, together with its partners, is committed to addressing cybersecurity concerns and to working to set a new standard for secure metaverse technologies. In an ever-connected world, collaboration, consultation and collective action are key to ensuring that the metaverse remains a secure and inclusive space for all.

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