Saturday, January 18, 2020

2020 #VWEDU: #BIZ: Can virtual worlds meet network security requirements? Some can and some still have problems.


Can virtual worlds meet network security requirements?   
Some can and some still have problems.

A simplified look at the issues of secure communication in educational use of virtual worlds.
  • Even education has security requirements: FERPA
  • Business and government units have even stronger needs.
  • How well do virtual worlds fit these needs?
  • OpenSimulator: not at all
  • CybaLOUNGE:  Completely and certainly.
  • 3DWebWorldz: It probably does and certainly can.
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Private network

  • A private network may be operated by a government agency, business, or school.
  • It may be entirely local or communicate with its nodes via encrypted transmissions. 
  • If a virtual world is operated within a private network, its security depends entirely on Network security.
  • Such a virtual world is as secure as anything else in the network.
  • Opensource software can be installed and run on a private network
  • Proprietary software can only be used on a private network with permission of the owner.
  • Thus a user of a private network often prefers opensource software.

Public network  

  • A public network, usually the internet, exposes all communications to interception.
  • The current solution to this security threat is encryption.    
  • The web-based solution is the https protocol.
  • The digital teacher assistant and FERPA: there are security issues.
  • The security issues apply to OpenSimulator.
  • Any web-based virtual world can use secure communications. 
  • The communications can be as secure as bank-level communications.
  • Opensimulator communications are not secure at this time
  • Efforts to make them secure are in progress.
  • To meet FERPA requirements (or the equivalent):
  • educational users of OpenSimulator can use confidential nicknames for students.
  • There are security risks at each end of the connection, but they must be managed at the site.  
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