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.
- 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.
- 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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