In the early 2000s, Web 2.0 ushered in a new era of user-generated content with interactive websites and web applications. Data breaches, input validation attacks, and social engineering have defined the Web 2.0 cybersecurity risk landscape.
With advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning accelerating at a breathtaking rate, the transition to Web 3.0 is looming on the horizon. But what exactly can you expect from this next version of the Internet and what are the key cybersecurity features of Web 3.0? This article answers both questions.
What is Web 3.0?
The classic definition of Web 3.0 is a version of the Internet in which all web data is machine-readable. Every web page has semantic metadata that describes to computers the meaning of the elements on the page.
Thanks to semantic metadata, the web works like a huge connected database. Search queries take advantage of this machine readability to provide much more accurate and contextual search results.
In Web 2.0, search engines base the results they provide to users on keywords found in web content without much understanding of context. A better understanding of each page on the Internet allows for better analysis and better exchange of information. Think of a version of Alexa that uses all the information on the internet to answer a question rather than just rehashing the first paragraph of Wikipedia and you’ll get a sense of the potential of Web 3.0.
Over time and decentralization by blockchain technology, the definition of Web 3.0 has expanded to incorporate it. Today, in addition to being machine-readable, a fundamental principle of the new vision of the Internet is distributed networking.
Currently, platforms such as Twitter, Google, YouTube and Facebook act as centralized controllers controlling access to Internet services and content through their servers and databases. In Web 3.0, sites and apps run on public blockchains, which means users can add and control their own content without the need for a centralized gatekeeper.
Web 3.0 cybersecurity features
Decentralization in particular promises greater individual control and better data privacy. Here are some Web 3.0 cybersecurity features and challenges to think about.
Countless data breach scandals have defined the Web 2.0 era. People lacked control over what organizations did with the information they collected. Data collection has become a real problem and data centers owned by popular platforms have become veritable treasure troves of sensitive information found all over the web. Scandals such as Cambridge Analytica have shown how people are losing control of information about them online.
Since centralized systems obviously do not guarantee data security or protect privacy, a new approach is needed. Web 3.0 is a native identity distributed application ecosystem in which users own their data and content. Users can authorize access to their data anonymously with smart contracts and defend against privacy risks.
Additionally, web applications can determine what privileges to grant users or their eligibility to participate based on reputation metrics tied to their digital identities. With less reliance on centralized gatekeepers of information, such as big tech companies, there should be fewer high-profile data privacy breaches in a Web 3.0 world.
Zero trust is a security paradigm that is getting a lot of attention in the information security world. Even at the federal level of the US government, all agencies must now meet specific zero trust network requirements by 2024. The idea of zero trust is to treat everything on a network as untrusted by default.
From a Web 3.0 perspective, decentralization aligns the Internet with something akin to a zero-trust security model. In the era of Web 2.0, users trusted the companies that owned the websites and platforms they interacted with online. Instead of data passing through intermediaries that users trust, Web 3.0 is trustless because data flows peer-to-peer in decentralized applications (dApps).
Web 3.0 cybersecurity risks
The future evolution of the Internet also carries a high probability of introducing Web 3.0 cybersecurity risks. Where there are new ways of doing things, there are opportunistic threat actors looking to exploit any weaknesses they find.
The vast library of integrated and interconnected metadata in a Web 3.0 world provide potentially more dangerous channels through which spam attacks can proliferate. With websites, search engines, and applications using all of the Internet’s resources as databases to deliver answers to users, hackers can target, exploit, and pollute specific resources to deliver spam.
Since blockchain technology underpins Web 3.0, the records contained on the blockchain are tamper-proof. But this tamper-proof data is not immune to being compromised. Web 3.0 phishing attacks will see malicious threat actors impersonating legitimate third parties in an effort to harvest confidential information about individuals or businesses. Other social engineering attacks will attempt to exploit authentication mechanisms to access user data.
A big change with Web 3.0 is the proposed use of self-sovereign identity to provide a portable set of credentials, claims, and permissions for people interacting with websites, other users, and web apps. This identity is blockchain-based and allows people to control which aspects of their identity they share depending on which parties they want to interact with.
A 2022 European report indicated some identity risks associated with implementing a self-sovereign identity infrastructure. For example, hackers could gather sensitive information about a person from the same ID used for a particular user in all of their interactions with a specific website or application. Insecure authentication mechanisms could even create risks of identity theft.
Security must be built into Web 3.0 design and functionality from the outset if this next evolution of the Internet is to succeed without introducing a host of new cybersecurity threats to users and businesses.
With personal data stored at the edge, on the devices people use to interact with applications, there is an even greater need for adequate endpoint and network protection through detection and response capabilities.
Contact Nuspire to start preparing for the future of the Internet today.
*** This is a syndicated blog from the Security Bloggers Network of nuspired written by Shannon Hawk. Read the original post at: https://www.nuspire.com/blog/web-3-0-and-its-cybersecurity-implications/