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CAPTCHA Update 2014: Will New Verification System Be More Effective?

First Posted: Dec 04, 2014 02:21 PM EST
Google Headquarters

Photo : Getty

For years, websites attempted to block bots and spammers by requiring visitors to read a distorted series of characters and type what they saw in a form. The idea was that humans would interpret what machines see as nonsense.

The security system, known as Completely Automated Public Turing test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHA), is designed to prevent automated spamming of websites. The test can be completed by humans but not by spambots.

If you ask many users of CAPTCHA, the test cannot be easily completed even by humans. The random, hard-to-read letters and numbers test not only a human's guesswork ability but also patience. Google, recognizing user frustration, created reCAPTCHA, a single-click solution for assuring websites that you are a human being, reports Gizmodo.

Google admited the old CAPTCHA system wasn't that effective:

"While the new reCAPTCHA API may sound simple, there is a high degree of sophistication behind that modest checkbox. CAPTCHAs have long relied on the inability of robots to solve distorted text. However, our research recently showed that today's Artificial Intelligence technology can solve even the most difficult variant of distorted text at 99.8 percent accuracy. Thus distorted text, on its own, is no longer a dependable test."

Google's new reCAPTCHA simply asks users to click on a box to verify "I am not a robot." It uses a "risk analysis" engine to determine if you can bypass the reCAPTCHA with a click, or if further analysis is required to confirm you are a living, breathing person. WordPress and Humble Bundles have already adopted the new security system and reportedly have a 60-80 percent one-click passing rate for users, according to Google.

The reCAPTCHA is easy to use. Website visitors will be presented with a checkbox that they can click. For reCAPTCHA to be effective on mobile devices, Google tricks bots with Computer Vision problems: a game of matching images, like puppies and birds, with clues. The matching game is fun and far more user-friendly for proving that you are human.

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