Death by CAPTCHA is a company that has figured out a way to bypass security CAPTCHAs by offering their technology to solve CAPTCHA phrases. While this may sound like celebratory news for those who are tired of face-palming every time they try to read the twisted words provided by websites looking to make things secure for their users, in reality, it is a gateway to spam.
CAPTCHAs have been in use for quite some time, and serve to bring comfort to website users who are looking for security. The idea is that only humans can decipher those garbled words, but the fact is that many programs out there can, in fact, solve CAPTCHAs. And many humans, in fact, cannot. A Stanford study shows that 1 in 5 website visitors will leave the website instead of even trying. And there is no denying that some CAPTCHA companies need to take more responsibility in coming up with systems that are more user friendly. Our own system, by Ironclad, only requires users to identify images, and once they’ve done so successfully, the can continue to comment on our posts without having to do it again.
Death by CAPTCHA is a service that, for $1.39 per 1,000 CAPTCHAs (with a pricing scale going all the way up to 100,000 CAPTCHA translations for $139.00), will decipher CAPTCHAs for the subscriber. Why would someone spend over $100 and need 100,000 CAPTCHAs read? Because they are spam-bots looking to break through the security walls of dozens of websites and blogs. And with technology like Death by CAPTCHA, it is essentially opening the spam floodgates.
But some point out that the spy vs. spy-like war between hackers and CAPTCHA developers may take an even more dastardly turn with advancements in artificial intelligence. As David Hill points out over at SingularityHub.com:
“Fundamentally, hackers are teaching programs how to think like humans. Anyone creating a CAPTCHA system is playing a game of staying ahead of the curve, meaning they develop methods that bots cannot solve until someone teaches them to. Theoretically, this could go on and on if it wasn’t for the fact that the tests are no longer simple, but have become challenging for humans. When the failure rate of humans and the success rate of bots converge, CAPTCHAs will become meaningless. In other words, the “Completely Automated Public Turing test” cannot tell computers and humans apart. We’re likely on the cusp of that point.”
While CAPTCHAs seem like a good idea, the unfortunate news is that hackers are continually finding a way around these security measures, and only causing CAPTCHA systems to be more and more intricate. So if you find yourself becoming aggravated because you have to continue to hit the “refresh” button due to the indecipherable letters, the systems may just become even more frustrating as they continue to try and stay one step ahead of the hackers.
You can read David Hill’s article at SingularityHub.com here.
A tip of the hat to TIP reader Pete Laberge for tipping us off to Mr. Hill’s article!