Many companies widely use captcha solutions to ensure that only real users are accessing certain services. They are the virtual equivalent of the text you see on websites asking people to write their name or enter their telephone number to submit a form.
They were initially designed as an anti-spam measure, but companies have also used them to avoid automated access from robots. Captcha stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.
However, new studies show that captchas are not very effective at defending against robot attacks anymore. This article looks at how effective they are in stopping automatic account creation and other bots that try to gain access through captcha.
What are Captchas?
A captcha system is a method of computer security based on the principles of noise and redundancy. The idea is that they should create images that humans can easily identify as letters or numbers, but robots cannot.
Despite advances in artificial intelligence, computers still have problems identifying objects like letters with little background noise. Consequently, typing text into boxes or pointing at numbers randomly displayed on an image provokes errors, especially for users who do not control the keyboard precisely because of their physical handicap.
A captcha system makes it possible to extract letters from images by asking users to select all the parts of an image that contain letters without confusing them with similar elements such as those used to compose icons or other simplified versions of images.
What Are the Problems with Captcha?
The idea behind captcha systems was to protect companies from the bot attacks that were getting more common. However, research shows that these systems are no longer effective for stopping automatic account creation bots.
A study showed that random typing is no longer a reliable way of distinguishing between robots and humans.
Their results reveal that bots have become so advanced in recognizing obstacles in images thanks to artificial intelligence algorithms, databases used for machine learning, sophisticated search engines, and image recognition tools, so much so that they can complete tasks that require human-level performance in visual recognition fields such as object classification or segmentation.
This means that captchas are not effective anymore and can mainly be used to stop spambots.
What Changes in Captcha Systems Are Required?
It seems like the only option left for companies wishing to protect their services from robot attacks is to ask users to prove that they are human by asking them to perform simple tasks which robots cannot carry out.
One example is when a user must click on all the squares appearing in an image but not on any other element present therein, such as icons or logos. Forcing a user to execute multiple tasks instead of just one could also prevent automatic account creation while still easy for a person to complete without much difficulty.
In fact, according to researchers at Google, captchas can even help improve machine learning systems.
Benefits of Captchas
Developers who want to protect their website against spam and bots often wonder whether it’s better to use a text-based captcha or another method. While some people believe that the time and effort needed to develop a custom captcha is not worth it, we can assure you that captchas have countless benefits.
Here are some reasons why implementing captchas on your website is still beneficial:
Displaying Captcha on Registration Page
Displaying captcha during the registration process will reduce the number of bots-created registrations as bots don’t like answering questions or solving captcha. It also acts as an extra layer of validation during the user registration process, which helps protect against fake accounts.
Protecting User Profile Against Scraping
A user won’t be able to extract information about other users by using automated bots. This protects your user profile from unwanted attention and scraping.
Improving User Experience
Users find captchas more user-friendly than filling out long forms. They are happy to spend that extra couple of seconds providing you with information to help your website. Captchas act as an opportunity for the user to stop, think about what they’re doing, and proceed after providing the correct answer – like completing a puzzle.
Preventing Email Harvesting
Stopping email harvesting is vital for protecting our personal information online. Hackers use botnets to collect thousands of emails a day for spamming purposes or ransomware distribution, etc. Email harvesters don’t like captcha because they can’t extract any information from them.
Improving Your Alexa Rank and Google Page Ranking
Using captchas positively impacts your website’s Alexa rank and Google page ranking as bots and scrapers don’t like captcha and stop indexing your site.
Preventing Online Fraud
Captcha prevents online fraud by stopping automated social engineering attacks. Captchas encourage people to contact businesses directly via telephone or email for verification purposes instead of placing orders without direct human interaction.
Verification through phone calls makes it more difficult for fraudsters to provide correct answers to complete the process, not just random letters/numbers that might be used as a captcha solution. This will also reduce the number of reported fraudulent cases that occur due to poor online experience.
Doubling Your Revenue
Captcha improves user experience and increases your website revenue by 50%. Some studies say that displaying captcha can double income on your website. Captcha solutions encourage users to spend more time on a site instead of closing it due to frustration, which results in a higher number of pages viewed, thus increasing the site’s value.
At the same time, captchas decrease bounce rate because they provide a better experience for those who want to proceed further into your site or complete a purchase/action you ask them to do. This means an improved number of conversions and increased ROI, which will make marketers go wild!
Increasing Conversion Rate
Using captcha will increase conversion rate as people who can’t read/understand image-based captcha won’t proceed onto your site. This will automatically filter out people who are only wasting resources on your site without any good intentions.
Improving Search Engine Rankings
Using visual captchas stops search engine crawlers from indexing the content of your website. Crawlers don’t like solving captchas because it takes a lot of effort to extract information from an image that is not machine-readable.
Are Captchas Still Worth It?
Captchas are effective at stopping bots from registering for an account, but they often stop real people. Online services use captchas to keep spam bots off their systems, but these frustrating puzzles have become so ubiquitous many users refuse to complete them.
Captchas have also been misused in attempts at humor or added without any thought of how human visitors will react to them.
But, when you weigh its benefits, captcha solutions are still worth it. So, it is still up to you what works best if installing a captcha or not is the best choice.