What a huge topic. The Digital Universe. Is this more than the Metaverse or less? Anyway: We live in the Digital Age. The vast majority of organizations rely on digital services to run at least parts of their business. Every one of us is consuming such digital services. They are ubiquitous. But this bigger ecosystem of connected digital services, of consumers and customers and citizens, of businesses and governments, of business partners and suppliers, of devices and things is at risk. It is under attack, continuously. The golden rule is: Once you are connected, you are under attack.
No silver bullet for security
There is no silver bullet, no single solution for securing that complex environment. But there are two good starting points, to my opinion:
- Everyone and every organization must care for the security within their realm
- Zero Trust (and yes, I know, it isn’t the most popular buzzword anymore, but that does not mean it is the wrong approach – in contrary) must be applied: Don’t trust, always verify
Some of the core components of modern security for the Digital Universe, beyond standard cybersecurity, standard IAM (Identity and Access Management) and Zero Trust, include security for Web3 and the Metaverse, Decentralized Identity, Software Supply Chain Security and Secure Development Lifecycles, but also CIAM (Consumer IAM) and IoT (Internet of Things) Security.
Security for Web3 and the Metaverse(s) – and the role of Decentralized Identity
We may discuss whether there already are metaverse(s) out there. Web3 is closer, for sure, despite being a somewhat undefined mix of different mostly decentralized technologies. The answer on how security for that brave new world will look like would by far exceed the scope of a single blog post.
But let me mention two important points. One is that there won’t be a single security solution for these environments. Tackling security for Web3 and the metaverses best starts with deconstructing them into the various components such as distributed ledgers or smart contracts and then addressing security per component. Recombining this and implementing policies and other common elements consistently will help us in achieving our goal. The most important of the common elements is Decentralized Identity, which is relevant to every component of metaverses and the Web3. Decentralized Identity thus is essential for securing the digital universe.
Secure Software and Secure Supply Chains
Software Security and Secure Software Supply Chains are also essential for the digital universe to work well. With close collaboration, this also impacts Supply Chain Security for partners, suppliers etc. accessing and interoperating with other organizations’ IT. Secure Development Lifecycles (SDL) are a must, where every part of the lifecycle is well-protected. SBOMs (Software Bills of Materials), which are increasingly requested, are mandatory. There is no doubt that we must get much better here, with digital services relying on secure software, but also with the risk of malicious code spreading way faster in a hyperconnected world. Beyond software security, B2B Identity Management is of utmost importance, to understand and being able to manage access of externals.
The “C” users: Customers, Consumers, Citizens
At the end, digital services are for customers, consumers, and citizens. Decentralized Identity will play an important role for their access and interaction in the near future. CIAM is equally relevant to connect traditional means of access of these “C” users as well as Decentralized Identity to the backend systems, marketing automation services, and other solutions in the organizations.
Putting it all together
Securing the digital universe requires so many different activities. Do you need a blueprint for that? Even while it surely would be fun creating such a blueprint, it appears to be too complex. It requires focus areas, some of these but not all listed above. It requires a common understanding of essential concepts, such as the role of Decentralized Identity and of Zero Trust. It must be based on a good understanding of risks, but also the impact of failure in a hyperconnected world: If security fails in one area, this can impact many other areas. Again, Zero Trust (which also implies layered security) as a foundational principle helps here.
One thing is clear: The digital universe as well as individual digital businesses will suffer or even fail when we fail in security.
The importance of securing the digital universe will take center stage at the upcoming cyberevolution conference happening in Frankfurt this November 14-16. Attending this conference will provide valuable insights on how to effectively address this expansive subject and gain a better understanding of the steps involved in securing the digital universe.