Although augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are related, they are not the same. Augmented reality enhances our “completes” the real world by incorporating digital elements (visual, auditory, or sensory) into it. The popular game Pokemon Go is one of the most well-known examples of augmented reality in recent years.

Virtual reality, on the other hand, creates its cyber environment rather than adding to the existing world. Instead of viewing content on a screen, virtual reality is typically experienced through an interface, such as headphones or glasses.

Mixed Reality (MR) is similar to AR but takes it a step further by projecting 3D digital content. Users can interact with and manipulate both physical and virtual objects and environments using MR; for example, a virtual ball can bounce off a real table or wall.

Augmented reality is the umbrella term for VR, AR, and MR (XR). Every year, the global market for XR hardware, software, and services expands. However, the rapid development of these technologies has led some consumers to wonder what privacy and security concerns they are causing.

AR challenges privacy

One of the most serious perceived risks of augmented reality is the loss of privacy. Because AR technology can see what users are doing, user privacy is jeopardized. AR collects far more information about who users are and what they are doing than social networking or other types of technology. The potential loss of privacy if a hacker gains access to the device is enormous.

Social Engineering Attacks

Given the potential for content unreliability, augmented reality systems can be effective tools for deceiving users via social engineering attacks. Hackers, for example, can manipulate a user’s perception of reality by sending false signals or displaying false information to entice them to act on the hacker’s behalf.

Through advertisements, AR hackers can embed malicious content into apps. Unsuspecting users can jeopardize AR security by clicking on advertisements directing them to hostage websites or malware-infected AR servers hosting untrusted images. Android wearables can be used by criminals to steal online credentials. Hacking can be a cyber threat for retailers who use augmented and virtual reality shopping apps.

Many customers have already entered their credit card information and mobile payment methods into their user profiles. Because mobile payment is a simple process, hackers can enter them and silently close accounts.

Denial of service is another potential threat to augmented reality security. One example is when users who rely on augmented reality for work are abruptly disconnected from the stream of information they receive. This is particularly concerning for professionals who rely on technology to complete tasks in critical situations, where a lack of access to information can have serious consequences. For example, a surgeon may lose access to critical real-time information about their AR glasses, or a driver may lose sight of the road if their AR windshield becomes black.

Communications between AR browsers and AR providers, AR channel owners, and third-party servers can be monitored by cyber attackers.

Man-in-the-middle attacks may result as a result of this. Hackers can gain access to a user’s augmented reality device and record their interactions in an AR environment. If the user does not pay the ransom, they may threaten to publicly publish the recordings. This can be embarrassing or frustrating for people who do not want their augmented reality games and interactions to be made public. Physical damage is one of the most serious AR security flaws for AR wearables.

Although some wearables are more durable than others, all devices have physical flaws. It is critical to keep them operational and secure, such as preventing someone from leaving with a headset that can easily be lost or stolen. Virtual reality security threats differ slightly from virtual reality security threats because virtual reality is limited to the internal environment and does not involve interaction with the real physical world. Despite this, VR headsets cover the user’s entire field of view, which can be dangerous if the device is compromised by hackers. They can, for example, manipulate content to make the user dizzy or nauseous.

Privacy is a major concern for VR, just as it is for AR. The highly personal nature of the data collected by virtual reality is a major privacy concern, such as biometric data such as iris or retinal scans, fingerprints and palm prints, facial geometry, and voiceprints.

Finger Tracking: In the virtual world, users can use hand gestures in the same way they do in the real world, such as entering a code on a virtual keyboard with their fingers. However, the system records and transmits finger detection data indicating that the fingers enter the PIN in this manner. If an attacker obtains this information, he can recreate the user’s PIN.

Gaze Tracking: Some virtual reality and augmented reality headsets may include eye-tracking. This information may be useful to attackers. Knowing exactly what the user is looking at can provide an attacker with valuable information that they can use to recreate the user’s actions. Because everyone moves differently, it’s nearly impossible to anonymize VR and AR tracking data. The researchers identified users with a high degree of accuracy using behavioral and biological data collected in VR headsets, which is a real problem in the case of hacked VR systems.

Personally Identifiable Information

VR and AR tracking data, like zip codes, IP addresses, and voiceprints, should be regarded as potentially “Personally Identifiable Information” (PII). It qualifies as PII because it can be used by third parties to identify or track a person’s identity, either alone or in conjunction with other personally identifiable information. As a result, VR privacy is a major concern.

Attackers can also insert features into virtual reality platforms that are designed to trick users into providing personal information by accident. This, like augmented reality, opens the door to ransomware attacks, in which attackers sabotage platforms before demanding a ransom.

Machine learning technologies enable you to manipulate voices and videos while maintaining their realism. If a hacker gains access to motion detection data from a VR headset, they may be able to use it to create a digital copy (also known as a deepfake) and thus undermine VR security.

Overlapping to show visibility

They could then layer it on another person’s virtual reality experience to launch a social engineering attack. Aside from cybersecurity, one of the most serious risks of VR is that it completely blocks the user’s visual and auditory communication with the outside world. It is always necessary to assess the user’s physical safety and environmental protection first. This is also true for augmented reality, where users must be acutely aware of their surroundings, particularly in more immersive environments.

How do augmented reality companies use and safeguard the data they collect from users?

Is augmented reality data stored locally on the device or in the cloud? Is information encrypted when it is sent to the cloud? Do augmented reality companies share this information with third parties? If so, how do they employ it? Although AR browsers make it simple to customize, content is created and shared by third-party vendors and apps.

As AR is a relatively new field, the mechanisms for creating and delivering authenticated content are still evolving, which raises the issue of insecurity. By deceiving people or providing false information, sophisticated hackers can replace the user’s AR with their own. Even if the source is genuine, various cyber threats can render content untrustworthy. Spoofing, sniffing, and data manipulation is examples of these.

The applications of augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality are diverse and growing. Games range from first-person shooters to strategy and adventure role-playing games. Pokemon Go is probably the most well-known augmented reality game.

However, it’s worthwhile to investigate how the companies behind AR and VR platforms store your data and what they do with it. Do they, for example, share your information with third parties? What information do they share and collect?

Do not reveal too much personal information or information that is not required to be disclosed. It’s one thing to set up an account with your email address, but it’s another to set up your credit card unless you’re making a specific purchase. Long data privacy policies or terms can be difficult to overlook at times.