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University experts publish guide to metaverses for SME owners

Experts at the University of Salford have published a new guide for business owners on the pros and cons of metaverses, as more and more SMEs consider harnessing these fast-developing technologies to innovate and grow their companies.

The 170-page book explores the workings of the virtual world of metaverses and how these can help tech-minded companies in a secure way, as well as highlighting the risks involved.

It has been compiled by Umran Ali, John O’Hare and Allen Fairchild from the Greater Manchester Cyber Foundry after the trio began analysing blockchain, crypto-currencies, virtual and augmented reality, non-fungible tokens and other aspects of metaverses for a business which had approached them for technical help.

Allen said their undertaking began as a technical paper, but grew and grew as the trio delved deeper into the subject at the GM Cyber Foundry’s virtual laboratory.

Their book, Money in Metaverses, has initially been published online on the GitHub platform as an open source guide which can be updated. It may be produced in print at a later date.

Allen is a GM Cyber Foundry analyst, developer and team leader working alongside Umran, a senior lecturer in creative media, and John, who is a Bitcoin researcher and the technical director of the Octave Lab, a multi-modal immersive research system at the University of Salford. Lorena Gomez, the GM Cyber Foundry project manager, also contributed to the book.

Allen said: “At the GM Cyber Foundry, we have been collaborating with SMEs over recent years, responding to their questions about emerging trends.

“As part of this mission, we were asked about new developments in terms of the value and trust in metaverses.

“We were interested in researching this field, and our virtual lab has become bigger and bigger as new technologies have emerged, so it seemed a logical step to compile the book as a guide to businesses looking at ways to enter the metaverse world and capitalise on the opportunities available.

“The aim is to show how the technologies and software can help businesses to enable them to make an informed decision if they wish to get a foot in the door of metaverses on a global stage without compromising their cyber security.

“It looks at blockchain, Bitcoin and other crypto currencies, NFTs, Web3 and more. Metaverse technologies are extremely fast-paced, and many aspects and topics are enormously complex.

“We have exhaustively researched the emerging consensus narrative to try to figure out how these technologies might serve SMEs from a perspective of security best practice. We have also included a how-to guide to the software used in metaverses.”

Allen added that, while there are many advantages for SMEs in entering the metaverse world, there are also pitfalls of which they should be aware.

“There are many ways to get the technology wrong,” he said.

The GM Cyber Foundry is a £6m scheme which helps innovative companies to develop digital products and services in a cyber-secure way.

More than 140 business have benefited from the initiative since its launch in 2018.

It brings together experts from Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Manchester, the University of Salford and Lancaster University to share their expertise with SMEs and help them to innovate and grow while defending data, systems and software from cyber-attacks.

In partnership with the GM Cyber Foundry, companies undertake research and development projects which are fully funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

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L-R authors Umran Ali, John O'Hare and Allen Fairchild

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