The development of virtual reality allows players to discover new experiences through seductive immersion. However, these VR games evoke real risks concerning cybercrime. What are these threats and what can they cause? In like VPN, what solutions are recommended to maximize protection of gamers? This summary will answer these questions.
Virtual reality and its promising market
Formerly dreamed by video game enthusiasts or high-tech products, virtual reality has gradually made its appearance in the world of video games. Certainly, some equipment was marketed in the 90s (including the Jaguar VR). Nevertheless, these first models were inaccessible for a majority of gamers in spite of positive reactions.
Since then, technologies have been evolving. The popularization of the crowdfunding system was an unmissable opportunity for Oculus VR, a company looking for ways to design promising equipment: the Occulus Rift. In 2012, the project attracted users quickly via the KickStarter platform. Four years later, the helmet is offered to gamers and high-tech fans. Success is immediate. Unsurprisingly, this phenomenon aroused the curiosity of other manufacturers … The RV market then becomes very promising.
VR headsets always more efficient
Nowadays, multiple models of VR headsets are marketed according to the means and preferences of the gamers.
Console players can discover addictive experiences with the PlayStation VR (only compatible on PlayStation 4). Despite its limited performance in terms of display, this equipment has a satisfactory design from a very affordable price. The detection of PlayStation Move accessories is also a significant asset. An improved version soberly called “PS VR version 2” is available since 2017.
Gamers equipped with a suitable computer can also discover the immersion provided by virtual reality. Two popular solutions are available:
- The timeless Oculus Rift (compatible with many games and various applications)
- The HTC Vive, an alternative perfectly adapted to the Steam games library
More expensive and technically less limited, new models are also marketed by these two manufacturers (Oculus Rift S and HTC Vive Pro).
What do players risk during a virtual reality game?
A “gold mine” for pirates
According to a majority of players, the use of a VR headset for gaming does not mention additional risks regarding cybercrime. However, these virtual reality equipment integrate multiple features such as:
- Voice detection via a microphone
- The “gyroscope” function
- The complementary use of a camera (to analyze the movements of a PlayStation Move, for example)
While these features are essential for engaging in VR experiments, they also raise an obvious question: is it possible for a hacker to take the analyzed information from a virtual reality headset? The answer is yes.
In order to function, a VR headset must inevitably communicate with a compatible device (computer or video game console). This process is similar to the systems used by all IoTs (connected objects or devices). However, data transfer between these 2 devices is deliberately unencrypted to ensure optimal processing speed. Thus, an intrusion performed via a PC, Mac or a PlayStation 4 can therefore cause a leak of personal data.
“Big Brother is watching you”
In addition to the risks of hacking, a disturbing controversy refers to the privacy of VR helmet users. Indeed, a hidden message was found in some prototypes of the Facebook Oculus Rift. He mentioned the phrase “Big Brother is watching you” translatable by “Big Brother looks at you”. Of course, this detail quickly raised questions about privacy.
Similarly, Facebook’s strategy to buy Oculus VR is a regular source of debate. Is it a choice relating to a promising technology or simply a complementary method to “profile” Internet users? Anonymity naturally becomes an essential topic for virtual reality enthusiasts.
How to protect yourself effectively?
Unlike a smartphone or computer, it is impossible to disable the features of a VR headset. Indeed, the absence of the gyroscope, a camera or a microphone will not allow to use your equipment. However, changing login information is an effective way to maximize your security, but also your anonymity. To achieve this, the installation of a VPN is essential.
The effectiveness of VPNs
A VPN (translatable virtual private network) is a tool much less complex than it seems. Briefly, this solution is designed to deal with hacking attempts while maximizing anonymity. For this, 3 features are used:
- The absence of geolocation thanks to an intermediary network (selected according to a geographical situation)
- Enabling a data encryption protocol
- Using a DNS to make an IP address “invisible”
Other significant benefits for gamers
Certainly, anonymity and protection against hacking attempts are two essential features for RV enthusiasts. However, other significant benefits are available when using a VPN.
The absence of geolocation, for example, allows access to the catalog of each download platform (whether European, American or Japanese). A French player will be able to discover some games temporarily unavailable from attractive rates.
Finally, the risks of DDoS attacks perpetrated by certain “bad players” will become anecdotal thanks to the mask of the IP address (no identification will be possible).
Concerns identified with VR enthusiasts are legitimate. Threats related to cybercrime and unauthorized user profiling cannot be overlooked. The installation of a VPN will allow gamers to maximize their privacy while protecting themselves from hacking attempts.