Augmented Reality is one of the major trends in 2020. Augmented reality or AR can be described, in the simplest terms, as a technology that overlays a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thereby providing a blended or composite view. As more and more developers around the world are developing innovative AR applications, they are also finding more and more security concerns. As with any other digital technology, AR is not free from security problems.
Augmented Reality can completely change the view of your world by augmenting artificial things in the real world and the technology can now make pretty convincing images, the misuse of AR systems can have very serious consequences. For example, a hacker can exploit a navigation system to display the driver an incorrect speed limit signage created by a computer or a wrong road path. Or, in that case, a malicious application could leak the geo-location or field of view of a person to criminals with malicious intent. AR is highly capable of causing major disturbances to defense, privacy, security, finance or operations if infringed, according to the Emerging Technology Domains Risk Study.
In today’s post, we will discuss the security and privacy threats posed by AR and what can we do to prevent and solve the issues.
Major Security Issues of AR
The following are some of the problems related to the use of AR.
New ways of data collection
The data collection abilities of companies running online services were restricted to issues like browsing patterns and experiences with user interfaces when most apps were made for desktop and laptop computers. Some businesses gained the power to monitor the positions and gestures of users and see the world through their phone cameras with the rise of mobile devices. AR headsets gather data about the movements of your eyes and ears and all sorts of responses to different visual content. They can record even more data about your physical behavior if they’re fitted with hand props and gesture recognition technology. If these devices are hacked, not only is your personal information compromised but each and everything you see is also visible to the cybercriminals. You can imagine the kind of privacy breaches this poses.
New ways of data overlaying
Improved reality is about overlaying the real world with augmented graphics and statistics. The information provided by AR apps is used by players, consumers, architects, and technical staff to make real-world decisions. If hackers access an application and start displaying fake information and graphic objects on the AR monitor or glasses of a victim, they can easily potentially cause harm. Imagine, for example, a doctor monitoring vital signs of patients through an AR monitor, only to be faced with the wrong numbers and failing to respond to a person who needs serious attention. Imagine how fake signs displayed on the streets or the top of shops will confuse people to make mistakes.
AR browsers essentially facilitate the process of augmentation, but the content is produced and distributed by third party vendors and applications. It raises the question of unreliability as AR is a relatively new domain and the process of validated content generation and transmission must be proved. A variety of cyber threats such as sniffing, spoofing, manipulation of data, and man-in-middle attacks will render the information inaccurate even if the source is real. Developers also need to disable the security features of browsers not compatible with AR. Furthermore, AR lacks a consistent or standardized level of security. Augmented Reality Markup Language (ARML) has no robust security controls and is not widely practiced either.
Techniques to avoid AR issues
The only way for AR technology users to know the security and privacy threats that exist when immersing themselves in the computer-generated environments is by taking precautionary measures. Following is a list of some of the things you should do while using AR systems and technologies to avoid data breaches and security concerns:
- Never share information that you feel is not needed by the system. For example, if an AR app for weather conditions asks you for your payment information, it is evident that it is not needed to provide your service.
- The above can only be done if you are aware of the applications you use or the company you are dealing with. Research about the ways they collect your data, why they need it, where do they send it, who it is shared with, and everything else. Make it a habit to read the privacy policies of products you use.
- Secure your internet usage by using a VPN. If you must provide your personal information, a VPN will make sure it is safe and your identity can not be compromised.
In short, try to be aware of the modern security standards and make sure the products you use are reliable and use those standards.
Lack of security precautionary measures in designing, constructing and distributing IoT devices has already generated cybersecurity problems which have become very difficult to fix In their rush to hit the market and avoid being left behind of competitors, device manufacturers ship millions of devices with vulnerabilities that are easy to exploit. That is a lesson to be taken to heart by the AR, VR, and other industries. When creating products we have to think about safety incidents, not after they happen.