Australia’s retail sector is leading the charge in its plans to launch initiatives in the metaverse, new research from Tenable has revealed.

A majority of respondents (91%) doing business within Australia’s retail sector said they plan to conduct business in the metaverse in the next six to 23 months, while 81% of UK retailers and 57% of US retail businesses are expected to do so in the same timeframe.

Major retail brands have already begun conceiving how their next investment might take shape in the metaverse with Gucci becoming the first major luxury brand to build its own virtual world with Gucci Vault.

According to the research, the metaverse holds promising business opportunities for the Australian retail sector, the most significant of which includes improvements in learning and training (45%), enhanced customer engagement (40%) and remote work and collaboration opportunities (38%).

However, only 50% of respondents feel confident in their ability to curb threats in this new environment with respondents wary of conventional phishing, malware and ransomware attacks (86%), compromised machine identities and API transactions (86%), cloning of voice and facial features and hijacking video recordings using Avatars (90%) and invisible-avatar eavesdropping or ‘man in the room’ attacks (85%).

In addition to the cybersecurity threats, respondents identified several major barriers to entry, including the prospect of security breaches and identity theft (45%), the lack of a clear process for data privacy (45%) and the lack of experienced security professionals to secure the metaverse (38%).

“Understandably, retailers are excited about compelling new growth opportunities presented by participating in or creating their own metaverse experiences. However, with online shopping scams exceeding $7.54 million as of Oct 2022, it’s vital that businesses take into account the new threats that can occur and the old threats that could transcend the metaverse. Progressive businesses that start by re-evaluating their existing infrastructure will be better equipped to navigate and build out their metaverse environments,” Tenable senior staff research engineer, Satnam Narang said.