UK age verification rules could put users at risk

identity verification

With age verification checks for users of adult sites in the UK set to come into force this summer, cyber security company F-Secure says that the new rules could increase the risk of identity theft and other cyber crimes.

Under the new laws, British internet users will be required to verify their age in order to access adult content websites. This could be by sharing personal information such as passport, driving license, phone number or credit card details with third-party age verification platforms, or by buying a 'porn pass' at a store.

"Preventing kids from accessing certain types of online content, such as pornography, is in everyone's interest. But people who share personal details with third-party age verification platforms need to know that attackers actively target this type of data, and will likely find these databases very enticing," says F-Secure principal consultant Tom Gaffney. "Plus, criminals will almost certainly try to trick users into disclosing personal information by creating fake websites that look like legitimate verification pages, which is another risk users need to be made aware of."

F-Secure says the new requirements come at a time when cyber crime has become more common in the UK than traditional robbery or theft. Attacks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated, while the general public often takes a complacent approach to digital security.

"The checks may drive those who wish to avoid the age verification system into engaging in more risky online behaviors," says Fennel Aurora, security advisor at F-Secure. "This could include accessing smaller, unregistered sites, or using free, untrustworthy tools that can harm unsuspecting users attempting to work around the checks. If these behaviors increase, we could end up exposing internet users of all ages to illegal content, as well as malware and other cyber crimes."

Aurora argues that regulation is an aid and not a replacement for the parent's role and that parental control technology can help to safeguard children online.

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