Cybercrime is the fastest-growing crime in the U.S.
On an annual basis, cybercrime causes trillions of dollars in damages. The crimes center around digital identity theft, where bad actors gain access to sensitive information and use it to wreak financial havoc. And the problem isn’t going away. The more money that pours into Web2, the more attractive it becomes to cybercriminals, and the more ruthless those criminals get.
The solution to cybercrime isn’t two-factor identification or your mother’s maiden name.
The solution to cybercrime lies in the transition to Web3.
Web2 wasn’t built with individuals in mind. It was initially conceived as a digital encyclopedia where anyone could access information from anywhere in the world. The advent of “digital identities” led to makeshift credentials like emails and passwords—which any cyber-thief savvy enough can steal. Web3 contains intrinsic protections that Web2 is too far gone to emulate.
Why does Web2 make individuals so vulnerable?
A “digital identity” on Web2 is little more than a username and a profile picture. To create one of these, all you need is a verifiable email address, and there’s no limit to the number of email addresses a single person can make.
Most of us have multiple email addresses that we use for different reasons—personal correspondence, work communication, spam filtering, etc. Anyone with the credentials can log into any of these emails, and there’s no way beyond two-factor identification to verify that the person logging in is who they say they are.
Moreover, once a company gets access to our personal information, we users have practically zero liberties or rights to control it. Hence, the secondary sale of our personal information for the sake of targeted ads. Beyond being a blunt abuse of our personal data, secondary sale gives access to it, and thus increases the opportunities cybercriminals have to exploit it.
The bottom line: When the first developers built Web2, they had no idea how it would be used. Now, it’s a global, multi-trillion-dollar target with no built-in safety features for individuals. Companies are scrambling to retrofit security solutions—but the true solution lies in a wholesale leap forward to Web3.
How Web3 will solve Web2’s security problems:
- Login security. I just moved to Austin, TX. Currently, if a cybercriminal in Waco had all my credentials (and could simulate my SIM card using any number of nefarious technologies), they could credibly pass as me. In the future, centralized authorities will no longer manage your data. With the use of DIDs and Blockchain-backed verification, it will be as simple as using a biometric unlock. Bots are constantly scraping the internet for stray credentials that they can use to infiltrate emails, bank accounts, and more. Consolidated digital identities, accessible via biometric logins, will nip this in the bud.
- Control and monetize your data. With a consolidated digital identity comes the power for each individual to use their personal data as they see fit. Each person has complete control over who sees their data—and who has to pay for it. For example, you could build a decentralized advertising network on a Web3 system and give users the power to opt into or out of the system. If they opted in, advertisers would be able to see and use their data, but the advertisers would have to pay the users for this privilege. It would probably be a small fee, but it would be better than the no-fee, exploitative access advertisers currently have to our personal data. And if you opted out, you’d lose this revenue stream, but you’d know that your data was entirely secure. Put simply, you’d control your data’s destiny—whatever you wanted that destiny to be.
Web2 was designed for information access—a valuable service, but not one that’s conducive to protecting personal information. Web3 will be designed to include the kinds of rights and liberties that we experience everywhere other than the internet.