On June 5, 2023, tech giant Apple announced its plan to release a spatial computer known as Vision Pro. Vision Pro is a mixed reality headset with a set of astounding features. It is not limited by the barriers of a screen; it converts your environment into a digital canvas. Its modes of entertainment range from creating your own panoramic movie screen to reliving virtual, 3D, spatial, life-sized memories and so much more. Apple has also developed its first spatial operating system, known as visionOS, which utilizes just the user's sensory features for navigation and control.

This innovation could revolutionize the way people and organizations communicate, browse, and even use social media. Just as organizations across the world have adopted smartphones for their functioning, the built-in AI and scalability features make this a device that could potentially be embraced in a homogeneous manner. Similar to the smartphone and IoT frenzy, this new accessory could also open multiple threat gateways for attackers to gain access to not only sensitive personal information but also critical organizational data.

In this blog, we'll dive into:

Potential risks of using Vision Pro

As discussed, this device opens new avenues for threat actors. Understanding these playgrounds can help both organizations and individuals improve their security posture and reduce their mean time to respond.

  • Device manipulation: With the software of any device, there is the possibility of security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers. These vulnerabilities could allow unauthorized access, lead to data breaches, or compromise the functionality of the device. Apple would need to implement robust security measures, regular software updates, and vulnerability management to mitigate these risks.
  • Privacy intrusions: Users can unlock the headset and make payments using the new Optic ID and physical finger gestures. This approach has yet to be proven as secure. Mixed reality headsets collect a significant amount of data about users, including their physical environment, movements, and interactions. This can give attackers access to a large amount of sensitive data, enabling them to mimic user gestures to perform operational or financial transactions. Apple must enforce strong data encryption and privacy controls to protect user data.
  • Malware-infected applications: Because visionOS is new and untested, it has the possibility of being vulnerable. The availability of a new mixed reality platform will lead to the development and distribution of malware that specifically targets Vision Pro. Apple needs to establish strict app vetting processes and code signing mechanisms to ensure that only legitimate, secure applications are allowed on the device. To learn more about the various tricks that malware uses to evade detection, check out this blog.
  • Creative social engineering attacks: With Vision Pro's reliance on voice and eye interactions, there is the potential for social engineering attacks and phishing, which trick users into performing unintentional actions or disclosing sensitive information. Users must be educated about the implications of unintentional actions and implement user authentication mechanisms to prevent unauthorized interactions.

Apple's defense playbook

As the creator of the product, Apple holds the responsibility for ensuring the safety of its users. Network robustness, user data protection, and physical product security are a few measures Apple can adopt to improve the security posture of the device. Let's explore them in detail.

  • Network robustness: Vision Pro will require connectivity for various purposes, such as content streaming, software updates, and online interactions. This introduces the need for robust network security measures to protect against attacks such as eavesdropping, man-in-the-middle attacks, or unauthorized access to user data. The device should prioritize the use of secure network protocols, encryption, and strong authentication mechanisms.
  • User data protection: Mixed reality experiences often involve the collection and processing of user data. Apple must ensure that user data is adequately protected in transit and at rest, employing encryption, access controls, and secure data handling practices. Transparent data usage policies and user consent mechanisms should also be in place.
  • Physical product security: Since Vision Pro is a wearable device, there is a risk of product theft or malicious access. Apple needs to implement strong device authentication mechanisms, anti-theft features, and remote wipe capabilities to protect user data if the device is lost or stolen.

There are also other potential threats such as social impersonation, remote exploitation, augmented reality tampering, and denial-of-service attacks.

The way forward

It is no surprise that as enterprises across the world churn out innovative products, attackers also implement innovative techniques to accomplish their goals. For security professionals, it is vital to understand if and how data is being accessed or exfiltrated from devices. Features that allow security analysts to monitor custom logs and create behavioral baselines will go a long way in detecting and preventing attacks. Processes such as the creation of peer groups, the allocation of risk scores, and automated workflow execution can all make the life of a SOC analyst much easier as their organization adopts new technology into its network.

The world around us will keep changing, and it is important to change at the same rate. From virtual reality to complete workforce automation, the target remains the same: ultimate data protection and security.

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