Virtual and augmented reality are both exciting developments in the fabric of a digitally transformed world. They are used in nearly every industrial setting from education, automotive and manufacturing to healthcare and entertainment. But the flood of new technologies that accompanied the digital age has also created a new class of cybercriminals looking to exploit both businesses and consumers. As with every other technology throughout world history, it is inevitable that VR and AR face hackers that try to utilise them for personal gain.

Corporations dependent on VR and AR systems know that they are a prime target of cyber attacks – their apps, platforms and devices must be guarded with the best cyber protection options available out there. This is because hackers can use vulnerabilities in VR or AR technologies for countless nefarious purposes, from stealing consumer data and sensitive corporate information to spreading malware. Understanding the risks and implementing strategies to counter them is an important part of developing VR and AR technologies. Here are three of the most critical vulnerabilities companies should look out for.

1. Ransomware dangers

Cybercriminals that hack into a user’s VR/AR device can record their behaviour in a personal immersive environment. The hackers can later threaten to release these potentially embarrassing or personal videos to the public unless the user pays them a ransom. These situations can be particularly troublesome for public figures with a professional image to maintain. Such security breaches can cause users to lose faith in corporations that market virtual and augmented reality experiences, leading to a damaged brand reputation.

2. Risk of losing device control

Augmented and virtual reality devices transport users into a deeply immersive environment. If a hacker gets past the company’s defences and seizes control of the user’s device with destructive intent, the user will be left vulnerable to any harm inflicted by the hacker. This is a prime reason why VR and AR developers must take every possible security measure when it comes to protecting devices and consumers against the hordes of malicious hackers out there.

3. Damage to AR medical devices

Tech manufacturers in the healthcare industry incorporate AR and VR into medical software, applications and devices. These products are used to enhance every aspect of healthcare including education, communication and treating patients through advanced surgical robotics and prosthetics. Today’s doctors, nurses and even medical students continually rely on AR/VR devices and apps to complete daily tasks. If these applications or devices fall victim to a cyber attack, it could disrupt everyday medical care and even harm patients whose sensitive information will be made available to the hacker.