CRF Blog

New Ways to Captcha Bots

by Bill Hayes

When you come to register on a web site, you are sometimes asked to copy letters. This is done to prevent spammers from registering automatically using bots. In New Ways to Captcha Bots, Bloomberg Businessweek reassures us that our eyes are not getting worse, those letters we are asked to type are getting more complicated because spammers’ machines are able to read the simpler, older ones. In fact, as the spammers advance, new ways are being employed beyond asking us to type random letters.

The solution dreamt up by Paxton and his business school friends Reid Tatoris and Benjamin Blackmer: Mini-games. Their startup, aptly named Are You a Human, has created 10 simple games that, they say, are easy for humans to solve but almost impossible for computers. In one, users see a box with half a dozen or so colored shapes bouncing inside and are asked to drag two red balls into a bin. That sort of spatial-reasoning task is still very hard, if not impossible, for computers to solve, Paxton says. [more]