While the promise of Web 3.0 is exciting, there are Web 3.0 security issues that need to be considered and addressed by any business or organization that wants to commit app development resources to Web 3.0. Now is the time to consider cyber security and data confidentiality in Web 3.0 before it becomes a web development reality.
Advocates of Web 3.0 will tell you that it is more secure than Web 2.0. While this could be true, no system is perfect, and there will always be security issues. In addition, there is less information available about the cyber security risks of Web 3.0 because it has yet to be fully implemented.
This post will examine the cyber security risks associated with Web 3.0. However, before we examine these security concerns, it is essential to understand what Web 3.0 is and how it differs from Web 2.0 and 1.0.
Web 3.0: The Evolution of the Internet
Web 1.0, the beginning of the Internet as we know it today, was populated with static websites created and controlled by companies. Web 2.0, the Internet we use today, emerged with the introduction of forums, blogs, and social media. Web 2.0 allows users to create and post content on the Internet. Unfortunately, the Internet, as it is currently, Web 2.0, is controlled by tech giants like Facebook and Google.
Web 3.0, the future Internet, will be decentralized and built on blockchain technology. As a result, users will have greater control over their data, a few big tech companies will no longer control the Internet, and Artificial Intelligence will play a larger role in reading and understanding web content. In addition, Web 3.0 will turn all the data on the Internet into a massive AI training set, giving rise to the semantic web and improved search results.
Through the power of blockchain technology, the Internet no longer needs a platform owner to validate transactions. Instead, community consensus and public transparency will help promote decentralized and distributed platforms. The result is Web 3.0, the Internet controlled by the users. In addition to Artificial Intelligence and semantic search, Web 3.0 will be defined by emerging technologies like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
The Cyber Security Risks of Web 3.0
Web 3.0 gives users and organizations a lot to be excited about. However, with any technology, especially the Internet, there are security concerns that will arise. Due to the decentralization of the Internet and the anonymity Web 3.0 will provide, cyber security has never been more important. The top security concerns associated with Web 3.0 include:
- New novel cyber attacks
- Information quality
- Data manipulation
- Identity issues
New Novel Cyber Attacks
There will always be cyber threats on the Internet. Web 3.0 will have to contend with new attacks based on the underlying technologies and less oversight. Web 3.0 is still emerging, and cyber attacks will evolve with it, but for now, there are several new types of attacks users and organizations must be aware of, including:
- Cryptojacking – This attack involves a cyber attacker installing crypto mining software on a victim’s computer and networks without their knowledge or consent.
- Smart contract hacks – Smart contract hacks are probably the most important attack to prevent since smart contracts are responsible for executing crypto and other transactions on the blockchain. Smart contract logic hacks can interrupt the functionality of crypto wallets, disrupt project governance, and interfere with crypto-loans and other FinTech transactions on the blockchain. An additional issue with smart contracts is the lack of legal protection. Many jurisdictions don’t have adequate protections for smart contracts or the means to enforce the limited regulations they do have.
- Ice phishing – An ice phishing attack involves a cyber attacker convincing an unsuspecting victim to sign a transaction that transfers their cryptocurrency tokens to the attacker.
- Rug pulls – A rug pull typically involves social media influencers or minor celebrities building interest and hype for a particular coin and then taking the funds before the coin crashes in value. Some also know this attack in the crypto investment community as “pump and dump.” Rug pulls fall in a legal gray area, and currently, there are few protections for investors.
Beyond the new cyber threats associated with Web 3.0, organizations and users still need to be wary of traditional Web 2.0 cyber attacks like phishing. In addition, while decentralization gives users more control over their information, it also creates a difficult landscape to regulate and protect since users are anonymous and there is no central authority or platform.
Web 1.0 relied on the reputation of publishers to promote accurate information. Web 2.0 allows users to create and post their own content, which, as we have seen in recent years, has led to vast amounts of disinformation. Web 3.0 will make it easier for users to create and publish content without oversight or central control. Decentralization is great for beating censorship, but information quality issues will be rampant.
No one will control what is and isn’t published on Web 3.0. In many ways, this will be great for users and previously censored organizations. Still, this unlimited freedom will also breed more disinformation and allow hateful speech and rhetoric to go unchecked on the Internet. While Web 2.0 has misinformation and hateful speech, too, Web 2.0 is not feeding all data points into an AI.
The massive issue with Web 3.0 and the dream of an AI-driven semantic web is data manipulation. For example, malicious actors could essentially feed AI bad data to create the results they want. Actions like this would essentially allow bad actors to turn Web 3.0 into the largest disinformation system in the world.
We don’t have to look far to find an example of data manipulation corrupting AI. In 2016, Microsoft decided it would train its AI chatbot “Tay” using Twitter. The company told Twitter the more you chat with Tay, the smarter it will get. Unfortunately, in less than 24 hours, users on Twitter turned Tay into a sexist and racist by feeding it horrible and hateful statements.
Apply this example to Web 3.0. What would happen if a bad actor or a malcontent nation-state decided to feed Web 3.0’s AI with bad information? Furthermore, how do we ensure that Web 3.0 learns from the best of humanity and not the worst? Once again, the lack of centralization will make it difficult for any group or organization to ensure that the AI-driven Web 3.0 is not being fed bad information.
Web 3.0 improves upon many of Web 2.0’s privacy concerns, but anonymity and decentralization also have a downside. For one, anonymity makes it difficult to hold bad actors accountable for their actions and offers little to no protection for consumers. Furthermore, anonymity makes regulation more difficult and simplifies money laundering and terrorist funding. Do we want an Internet that allows bad actors to thrive and multiply?
In addition, decentralized identification complicates current regulations like GDPR and makes it difficult to discern user identity for data controllers. Finally, most self-sovereign identity (SSI) and crypto wallets require a lengthy security onboarding process, making widespread adoption more difficult and less secure.
Web 3.0 is a certainty, and generally, there is far more to be excited about than concerned about. However, organizations that want to participate in Web 3.0 must understand the associated security risks. No system is perfect, and anonymity can make it difficult to hold malicious actors responsible or even get reimbursement for stolen funds. If you want to learn more about the most pressing Web 3.0 security issues, reach out to an app development partner.