April 18, 2024

Web 3.0: The future of the Internet and its cybersecurity characteristics and challenges

The World Wide Web, now known simply as the Internet, is by far the most important technological revolution in the history of technology. The current generation of the Internet is Web 2.0, which allows users to browse and write content powered by centralized data centers. Today, the cyber world is rapidly moving towards Web 3.0.

Web 3.0 is a decentralized database where users have full control of their data without the need for a third-party platform to provide the content, and it is also an intelligent version equipped with Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Semantic Web. Web 3.0 also incorporates blockchain as a main feature. The decentralized transaction ledger provides cryptocurrencies with greater security, transparency and immutability.

Web 3.0 Cybersecurity Features

Native identity – Web 2.0 saw a lot of data breaches and people had less control over what organizations did with their data. In Web 3.0, people have full ownership and control of their data, allowing them to authorize access to their data with smart contracts and defend against privacy risks.

Zero trust – Unlike Web 2.0, where companies were given unlimited trust with their customers’ data and services, Web 3.0 operates on a zero-trust principle, with data flowing directly peer-to-peer across applications decentralized.

Decentralized applications (dApps) – dApps are software programs that operate on a blockchain or peer-to-peer network. They guarantee privacy, provide freedom from censorship, and offer flexible development without centralized control.

Decentralized technologies – Technologies such as decentralized finance (DeFi) are financial systems without intermediaries that allow borrowing, lending and sharing digital assets transparently. Improves accessibility to financial services by eliminating third-party involvement. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) enable the creation, replication, and transfer of digital assets, such as gaming items, digital art, and collectibles.

Cybersecurity risks of Web 3.0

Web 3.0 introduces new advantages, but along with them come additional risks and challenges. While Web 3.0 addresses important issues from its predecessors, it also brings advanced vulnerabilities that require careful attention.

New types of attacks

New attack methods other than traditional attacks relevant to blockchain networks and interfaces will be introduced.

  • Smart Contract Logic Hacks and Flash Loan Attacks – Smart contracts are blockchain-based programs that automatically execute agreements and streamline workflows without intermediaries. Smart contract logic hacks manipulate programmed logic within blockchain services, which exploits services such as crypto lending services, cryptocurrency wallets, and project governance. Flash loan attacks target smart contracts designed to make it easier for flash loans to manipulate various smart contract inputs. Smart contacts also raise legal concerns as they are often not protected by law or fragmented across jurisdictions.
  • Sibyl attack – Named after a 1976 film about a person who experienced multiple personalities, this attack creates multiple false identities in a peer network to gain control or influence over the network.
  • Cryptojacking – Threat actors install cryptomining software on victims to compromise digital wallets and access keys.
  • rug pullers – False attention and hype is created around a project just to steal investors’ funds.
  • Phishing on ice – Threat actors convince users to delegate token approval by signing a transaction.
  • Metaverse attacks – “Human Joystick” attacks manipulate users in the Metaverse, unknowingly relocating them to physical space, potentially exposing their avatar to physical danger. A “chaperone attack” disrupts the boundaries of the virtual environment, undermines safety measures, and distorts the perception of space, making it difficult to assist and identify real-world boundaries during immersive VR sessions. While these occur in virtual reality, victims have described negative physiological and emotional responses to these offensive events.

Reliability and confidentiality of data. – Due to decentralized data management, the accuracy, authenticity and validity of published data remains an issue. It can lead to misinformation and security issues, and AI models will ingest this invalid data. Data availability issues arise as a lot of control falls on end-user nodes, processes and applications, which can be negatively affected if data becomes unavailable. Data may also be subject to manipulation if a threat actor gains unauthorized access. Techniques such as injecting malicious scripts, spying on or intercepting unencrypted data, and cloning wallets are used.

Privacy and compliance – There are doubts regarding the privacy of the information that is published inside and outside the blockchain. While anonymity improves privacy, it also raises issues of liability and responsibility. Decentralized IDs pose challenges to existing regulations in distinguishing between data controllers and processors when it comes to personally identifiable information (PII).

Below are best practices to mitigate Web 3.0 risks.

  • Incorporate security by design principles – Developers must create their designs, products and infrastructure in Web 3.0 with security in mind. It is necessary to include traditional security principles, secure defaults, and a zero trust framework.
  • Choose the right type of blockchain for your business – Nowadays there are types such as public or private blockchains, each with its own complexities. Hybrid infrastructures such as sidechains, multichains, crosschains, federations, oracles, and other components impact speed, efficiency, and resilience. Therefore, it is essential for the security team to consider these factors when choosing a blockchain system.
  • Use attack prevention techniques. – Address common threats and avoid risks unique to blockchain architectures. Use data validation and evaluation controls and security controls that decide what should be on and off the blockchain to prevent data manipulation attacks.
  • Stay informed and seek professional guidance. – Stay informed about the latest trends, technologies, best practices, threats and vulnerabilities in Web 3.0 and seek professional guidance whenever you are unsure which security measures suit your business.

Web 3.0 offers powerful possibilities along with unique cybersecurity challenges. Its decentralized blockchain technology increases data privacy and control, but also generates various novel and advanced threats and attacks that organizations must be aware of. When harnessing the potential of Web 3.0, it is crucial that organizations adopt best practices and security measures to protect data and resources.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire.

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