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Can Augmented Reality Be the Future of Cybersecurity?

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Recently Apple launched its Apple Vision Pro to much fanfare and has pushed the discussion of Augmented Reality (AR) beyond the realms of gaming and entertainment. From healthcare innovations to retail experiences and manufacturing enhancements, AR has the potential to reshape operational frameworks and redefine user interactions. Yet, as we pivot towards exploring the symbiotic relationship between AR and cybersecurity, we’re opening Pandora’s box to a new dimension of cyber threats.

Augmented Reality Threats

Imagine AR devices that not only augment our reality but also become conduits for real-time data breaches, privacy invasions, and a playground for phishing scams. The potential misuse of AR technology to craft convincing deep fakes or engineer sophisticated social engineering attacks cannot be overstated. These emerging threats highlight the complexities of safeguarding augmented spaces.


There are issues such as malicious apps – which may not affect some of the big players like Apple who vet apps with great scrutiny. But as the technology develops, we’ll likely see cheaper variations on the market which won’t have the capability of vetted apps. Or users will jailbreak or sideload apps from untrusted sources. Once malware is on the device, it could steal data, or install spyware.

AR headsets also collect a lot of information, such as GPS and spatial mapping data, which could be exploited to track users and their daily behaviours without consent.

Digital vandalism can also occur. Since AR overlays digital objects in the real world, criminals could exploit AR to prank or vandalize their spaces digitally. This could have an impact on physical safety. There are risks associated with distractions, accidents, and inability to evaluate real vs fake threats. Especially if false data is displayed about objects and people in the surrounding area.

AR as a Cybersecurity Tool

Yet, it’s not all doom and gloom. AR holds the promise of helping cybersecurity pros. Envision AR-enabled training simulations that immerse cybersecurity professionals into hyper-realistic scenarios, offering a hands-on approach to cyber defense education. Picture AR dashboards that provide real-time network security monitoring with augmented overlays, enhancing situational awareness. AR can also refine identity verification processes, introducing secure and interactive authentication methods.

Consider the scenario of a financial institution leveraging AR for real-time threat detection, overlaying security data onto the physical layout of its network infrastructure. Or, imagine a cybersecurity training programme employing AR to simulate phishing attacks, preparing employees to recognize and respond to threats more effectively.

Challenges and Considerations

Integrating AR into cybersecurity frameworks isn’t without challenges. The technical complexities, alongside the imperative for robust AR security protocols, beckon for attention. Ethical dilemmas loom over the use of AR in surveillance, necessitating a balanced approach to innovation and privacy. The development of AR-specific cybersecurity policies and standards becomes imperative to navigate this uncharted territory.

Before jumping into the augmented world, people should consider things like privacy policies, security features, app marketplaces, update policies, and even the impact of long-term use and being able to limit screen time, blocking apps, or monitoring usage.

Javvad Malik, Lead Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4
Javvad Malik, Lead Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4

By Javvad Malik, Lead Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4

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