Beware! Virtual reality games are susceptible to hacking, say experts

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Friday, December 7, 2018
Beware! Virtual Reality games are susceptible to hacking, say experts
A cyber forensics research team has uncovered vulnerabilities in popular virtual reality systems

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Doctor Ibrahim Baggili gets to play in the world of virtual reality as part of his job.

But he believes the trendy technology isn't just the next frontier for gamers.

"Virtual reality is absolutely susceptible to hackers at this point in time," he told Action News.

Baggili works with a cyber forensics research team at the University of New Haven.

And they've uncovered vulnerabilities in popular virtual reality systems.

They say this type of hacking will be different from anything we've seen before.

"I think what's really interesting in VR is for the first time we have a technology that takes over your complete sight and your complete vision, and now also, slowly, is taking over your hearing," he said.

In the lab, researchers were able to take over systems and manipulate physically.

Graduate researcher Peter Casey says one breach is known as a "chaperone attack."

"A chaperone attack is when we either disable or expand the safety boundaries that are keeping the player from moving into any obstacles in the room," Casey said.

In a "human joystick attack", researchers were able to gradually move people across a room without them realizing it. Casey says it has to do with a false sense of reality.

The group could walk someone down the stairs or turn on cameras and insert or overlay images right into the middle of an experience.

Baggili stresses that virtual reality hacks haven't even made headlines yet and not all features or brands are proven to be vulnerable.

He also says there are many positive uses for VR but it's critical to expose potential problems before trouble strikes.