Is Virtual Reality Secure?

Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that has become increasingly popular in the last few years, allowing users to become immersed in a virtual world of their choice from the comfort of their home. But is it secure?

VR Technology requires users to have a VR Headset and Controllers which vary in levels of sophistication, from simple headsets using smartphones such as the Samsung Gear VR, to sophisticated systems such as the HTC Vive with headsets, handheld controllers and digital barriers, requiring a PC to render and process your VR experience.

Research from the University of New Haven in Connecticut has demonstrated how attackers can gain and abuse access to VR technology, specifically the HTC Vive. These systems rely on the security of the PC running the VR application as opposed to implementing security features of their own; researchers infected a computer with malware to see how secure the VR systems would be if the PC’s security was compromised.

Researchers were able to capture and alter camera, screen and digital barrier data; The digital barriers prevent users from colliding with real world objects such as walls and furniture. An attacker with access to such data can see where the user is in both the real and virtual world, alter what they see and even alter coordinates for the digital boundaries, meaning the attacker could, for example, direct a player into a wall, furniture or even down a flight of stairs, to cause bodily harm to an individual.

Whilst VR technology can be exploited by attackers, it is only possible to do so via infecting the PC running the VR application. Therefore, ensuring your PC’s security features are enabled and up to date will help to minimize the security risks of VR technology and allow you to continue enjoying your VR experiences as usual.

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