The End of CAPTCHA? Testing AI CAPTCHA Solvers Part Two
Cyber Risks & Threats | October 18, 2023
The following is the second of a two-part series on solving CAPTCHA challenges with AI tools. Read part one here.
In part one of this series, we spotlighted the role of advanced AI in cracking CAPTCHA systems, but it’s crucial to recognize that CAPTCHAs have been under siege for quite some time, and not just from machine learning models. A variety of methods, both high-tech and low, have been employed to bypass or solve CAPTCHAs, and have determined bad actors can easily bypass detection with legacy methods. Let’s look at a few ways CAPTCHAs are often bypassed.
Click Farms and the Business of CAPTCHA-Solving
For bad actors who prefer not to get their hands dirty with code, the grey market offers a range of CAPTCHA-solving services. There are a slew of companies that offer APIs to connect bots to an army of human CAPTCHA solvers, typically working in large click farms under sweatshop-like conditions. These services are available for fees as low as $0.77 per 1,000 solved CAPTCHAs, and not only make it easier for attackers to bypass security checks, but also reduce the computational overhead enabling the use of simpler bots.
The Art of Evasion: Beyond CAPTCHA-Solving
Avoiding CAPTCHA altogether is another strategy employed by savvy bad actors. This involves a range of techniques, from using high-quality residential proxies to disguise scraper bots, to mimicking legitimate browser headers and fingerprints. Some even delve deep into the intricacies of security layers like Cloudflare’s waiting room, studying its internal logic to either replicate or bypass the security checks involved.
Beyond Security Concerns: CAPTCHA Hurts User Experience and Privacy
If the security shortcomings weren’t enough, there’s another great reason to ditch CAPTCHA: everyone hates them.
And all that frustration and disdain means that when consumers encounter a CAPTCHA on your site, they won’t be happy. In fact, they may even leave.
Stanford University found that CAPTCHAs can lead to a 15% page abandonment rate, a significant loss when average online conversion rates hover around 2%. Another study showed that even financially motivated users abandoned forms at a rate of 1.47% when faced with a CAPTCHA.
But it’s not just about annoyance. CAPTCHAs, especially Google’s reCAPTCHA, pose serious privacy concerns. France’s Privacy Commission (CNIL) has warned that reCAPTCHA may not comply with GDPR guidelines without explicit user consent. The system collects a wide array of data, from device information to behavioral metrics, raising questions about data proportionality under GDPR.
The latest version, reCAPTCHA V3, exacerbates these issues. It requires pervasive tracking code across web pages, leading to data collection that could be considered excessive under GDPR standards. Add in data transfers to U.S. servers, and you’re navigating a potential GDPR minefield.
So why are so many websites still using CAPTCHA?
If CAPTCHAs are so problematic — frustrating users, lowering conversions, and posing privacy risks — why do they remain a staple on many websites? The aforementioned UC Irvine study found that 59% of the top 200 websites still employ them.
The prevailing notion is that CAPTCHAs, while not foolproof, create a barrier that’s just inconvenient enough to deter automation of tasks like account creation. The logic? Even if AI can crack CAPTCHAs, the time, effort, and resources required to do so at scale make it a cumbersome option for most attackers. It’s akin to using a basic lock on your bike—it won’t deter a determined thief, but it might discourage a passerby from making an impromptu grab.
That may seem like sound logic, but the reality is that this approach is dated.
For one, many cyberattacks are highly targeted. Professional web scrapers, for example, are often contracted to extract specific data sets from particular websites. These aren’t opportunistic attackers but professionals with a clear objective.
Secondly, the rise of accessible AI tools for CAPTCHA-solving has changed the game, and the prices for these tools are plummeting. These low-cost solutions can handle thousands of requests per day, effectively nullifying the ‘inconvenience barrier’ that CAPTCHAs were supposed to establish.
Given these shifts, clinging to CAPTCHAs as a security measure is increasingly indefensible. There are more effective, user-friendly ways to secure your website that neither compromise the user experience nor flirt with non-compliance. If you’re still relying on CAPTCHAs, it’s time to explore these smarter, more efficient alternatives.
The Smarter Alternative: CHEQ’s Sign-Up and Lead Protection (SLP)
If you’ve made it this far, you’re likely convinced that relying on CAPTCHAs for your website’s security is a losing battle. They’re increasingly ineffective, frustrating for users, and can even put you at risk of non-compliance with privacy regulations. So, what’s the alternative?
Enter CHEQ’s Sign-Up and Lead Protection (SLP), a comprehensive solution designed to secure your website’s form fill processes against both automated and human threats. Unlike CAPTCHAs, which are easily bypassed by modern bots and even legacy techniques, SLP employs advanced methods to validate user authenticity in real-time during form submissions, sign-ups, or account creations.
Why Choose SLP?
- Real-Time Analysis: SLP conducts a series of tests, analyzes input data and behavioral patterns, and leverages CHEQ’s detection engine to validate users. You can either block suspicious users or allow them into your funnel while enhancing their profiles with CHEQ’s analysis data.
- Flexibility and Customization: SLP offers two activation modes—blocking and data enrichment—giving you the flexibility to either block a form immediately or allow it to progress through the funnel, enriched with detection data, threat type, and risk score.
- Protect Your Brand and Resources: By filtering out fake leads, SLP ensures the purity of your CRM and sales pipeline, allowing your teams to focus on genuine potential customers. It also prevents bad actors from exploiting your platform, thereby preserving your brand’s reputation.
Ready to Make the Switch?
Don’t let outdated CAPTCHAs compromise your website’s security, user experience, and compliance. Sign up for demo today.