Most of us have been in a situation where it’s a race against time to purchase concert tickets online.
You log on with plenty of time, complete all of your personal details and select your tickets and it all seems to have gone off without at hitch…until you reach the dreaded CAPTCHA code. We are all familiar with the CAPTCHA code, the distorted and very difficult to read series of letters and numbers to let the website know you are human and not a robot.
You enter what you believe to be the correct letters or numbers but to no avail. You refresh the CAPTCHA to try another code which doesn’t seem to be any easy to decipher, all the while tickets to the concert are dwindling by the second.
Finally, you crack the code only to find out the ticket allocation has been exhausted. It’s a familiar tale for many.
What is CAPTCHA
CAPTCHA or “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Human Apart”, is the security measure that determines whether or not someone using a website is a robot, helping to protect websites from spam and automated software.
Bots are not supposed to be able to read the letter and number combinations produced by CAPTCHA, while we humans are meant to be able to read them easily, therefore eliminating spam robots from being able to access the website.
Like most things in the cyber sphere, as the bots become more advanced with their ability to break the codes, the characters used in the CAPTCHA codes are increased in difficulty and now humans even struggle to identify the letters and numbers.
In a recent study, it was established that Artificial Intelligence is in fact capable of breaking CAPTCHA codes 90 – 97% of the time anyway, identifying the need for a more effective security measure.
It should come as no surprise then that the masterminds at Google have taken it upon themselves to address this shortfall in security to develop a new method for verifying humans versus robots.
Named reCAPTCHA, this API is designed to not only make the user experience more pleasant but to also provide a higher level of security from bots. To verify you are human, all you have to do is simply check a box that says “I am not a robot”.
In most cases, this is all you will need to do to verify that you are not a robot but in some instances, you may be asked to complete a traditional CAPTCHA code as an added level of identification.
If you’ve ever tried to complete a CAPTCHA on a mobile device, you know all too well how hard it can be to zoom in on the little numbers and letters so Google has gone one step further to also address this issue. You will be required to complete image association which is much easier to see, particularly on small devices.
How Does It Work?
Google started working on the project approximately 18 months ago which involved developing an advanced risk analysis engine that can determine who was attempting to pass the CAPTCHA code.
Through analysing several factors including how the website visitor arrived at the site, where the mouse was on screen, how long it was on the screen for and the steadiness of the mouse for example, the program is able to determine if the user is a robot or human in a matter of seconds.
It does so by comparing your behaviour patterns to that of a normal model of human behaviour, effectively weeding out the bots.
Google is currently offering the reCAPTCHA technology for free, with the likes of WordPress and Snapchat already on board.
Considering all we have to do as a user is check one box, this is pretty amazing stuff.