What is Web3?
Web3 refers to the ongoing development of the third generation of the internet, wherein applications and websites possess the ability to process data in a smart and human-like manner using technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, decentralized ledger technology, big data, and more.
From a technical standpoint, Web3 Technology can be defined as a decentralized network where data is interconnected and monetized. Internet transactions are supported by distributed ledgers rather than relying on a centralized authority. The vision of the Internet in the Web3 era can be summarized as follows:
- Open: Content platforms are built on open-source software, promoting transparency and collaboration.
- Distributed: Devices, services, and users can interact with one another without requiring authorization from a central authority, fostering a peer-to-peer network.
- Trustless: A zero-trust architecture extends security measures to all Internet of Things (IoT) edge devices, ensuring enhanced security and privacy.
Web3 risks – What are they?
The potential of Web3 and blockchain architectures presents an intriguing future, but it can be challenging to anticipate the specific risks that may arise from the tradeoffs in their design. For example, while Web 2 brought about a revolution in user-generated web content, providing opportunities for expression, information access, and community, it also introduced challenges such as widespread misinformation, extensive surveillance, and centralized gatekeepers.
The biggest risks of Web3 security
- Social engineering and new forms of attack –
Web3 has uncovered a new class of cyber threats that are unique to blockchain networks and interfaces.
- Smart Contract Logic Hacks: This emerging threat specifically targets the underlying logic embedded within blockchain services. Smart contract logic hacks exploit various services and functionalities, including project governance, interoperability, cryptocurrency wallet functions, and crypto-loan services.
- Flash Loan Attacks: This threat involves the exploitation of smart contracts that facilitate the provision of flash loans to siphon off assets. Attackers manipulate multiple inputs to the smart contract, taking advantage of uncollateralized loans.
- Cryptojacking: Cryptojacking is a threat where malicious actors embed themselves within computers or mobile devices to exploit the machine’s resources for mining cryptocurrencies. Malicious cryptominers typically infiltrate devices through web browser downloads or rogue mobile applications, compromising various devices such as smartphones, desktops, laptops, or network servers.
- Rug Pulls: Rug pulls are malicious acts within the cryptocurrency industry where developers abandon a project and abscond with investors’ funds. These incidents often occur in decentralized exchanges (DEXs) in which malicious individuals develop a token, list it on the DEX, and pair it with leading cryptocurrencies like Ethereum.
- Ice Phishing: Ice phishing refers to a blockchain-based attack in which users are deceived into signing a malicious transaction, enabling attackers to gain control over cryptoassets.
- Data security and reliability –
The broader network topology encompassing actors, interfaces, and data storage inherently expands the scope of security risks in Web3. While Web3 transactions are encrypted, and decentralized information and services reduce single points of risk and censorship, they also introduce potential vulnerabilities, including
- Data availability: With greater control lying in end-user nodes, concerns arise about the impact on applications or processes if a node becomes unavailable, raising questions about data availability.
- Data authenticity: On the other hand, ensuring the authenticity, originality, and accuracy of available information becomes a challenge, as users need mechanisms to verify the trustworthiness of the data.
- Data manipulation: Various risks associated with data manipulation exist within the Web3 ecosystem, including the injection of malicious scripts across the diverse range of programming languages used in Web3, enabling attackers to execute application commands.
- Wallet cloning, where attackers gain access to a user’s passphrase and take control of their contents.
- Unauthorized access to information and impersonation of end-user nodes.
- Eavesdropping or interception of unencrypted information transmitted across the network.
- These risks highlight the importance of implementing robust security measures and protocols to mitigate the potential vulnerabilities inherent in Web3 systems.
- Identity and anonymity –
Web3 capabilities reduce certain data confidentiality and privacy risks associated with Web2 by empowering individuals with greater control over their information. However, anonymity and pseudonymity in Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) also have drawbacks. The transparent nature of public blockchains, which makes transaction records available to everyone, fosters trust without the need for intermediaries but also introduces privacy and security trade-offs.
- Economic incentives and social risks –
In many early Web3 applications and digital communities, microeconomics, currencies, and other financial assets are integrated, creating new incentives and disincentives that will alter the way risks are calculated. These factors introduce new incentives and disincentives that will reshape the risk assessment process.
For example, Web3’s economic structures embedded within applications create unique motivations for hackers, distinct from those in the traditional cloud or IT environments. In traditional settings, services, and data are often targeted without a clear or immediate monetary benefit. However, blockchain applications frequently store significant value directly within the blockchain, making them an appealing target for malicious actors.
Best practices for Web3 security of applications and infrastructure
Web3 represents the evolution of the internet, specifically designed to tackle security challenges faced by blockchain networks like Ethereum, ensuring their sustained advancement and prosperity. To mitigate such risks when engaging with web3, various measures can be implemented, a few of which are outlined below:
- Comprehensive code auditing prior to deployment:
Conducting comprehensive security audits is crucial for organizations before releasing or deploying their code. If any security vulnerabilities are discovered after deployment, they should be addressed in the subsequent version.
- Security-centric design approach:
Security plays a paramount role in the success of any new technological innovation in the market. By adopting this approach, Web3 developers can create products with robust infrastructure and secure code that are highly resistant to hacking attempts.
- Enhanced user-controlled key management:
In the Web3 paradigm, user transactions heavily rely on cryptographic keys, which can be challenging to handle. Since businesses rely on key management, the associated risks lead some users to opt for hosted wallets instead of non-custodial ones.
- Implementation of two-factor authentication:
One prevalent type of threat in the current landscape is social hacking, where visually identical interfaces are used to trick users into disclosing personal or confidential information to hackers. In the Web3 space, this is often observed through the cloning of popular applications to create convincing replicas.
The risks associated with Web3 security provide a realistic overview of what security experts can anticipate in the Web3 era. These risks are a significant concern for the adoption of Web3, as new users are hesitant to expose their valuable information to potential threats. Additionally, the transition to Web3 security would have profound implications for the digital transformation of various conventional processes and everyday activities.
PrimaFelicitas is a leading Web3, Blockchain & Metaverse Development Company, offering a wide range of Web3 security services to help businesses and individuals protect their assets and data in the emerging Web3 ecosystem. Our team of experienced Web3 security experts has a deep understanding of the latest security threats and vulnerabilities. We use a combination of manual and automated tools to identify and mitigate potential security risks.
Prioritizing Web3 security is a crucial factor in ensuring the successful long-term adoption of Web3. Addressing security challenges, such as unauthorized access to information and data confidentiality, is vital for the effective utilization of Web3 technologies. However, taking a proactive approach to identifying and managing risks can lead to substantial improvements in value when utilizing Web3.