reCaptcha: The invisible war against bots

Chances are over the last year or two, you’ve been asked to select which images contain a road sign, or which pictures contain a store front, when browsing the internet or submitting forms.

This is a test designed to tell the difference between computers (bots) and humans, monitoring how real people engage with the questions to block bots that intend to use the website maliciously. For example, on websites that sell event tickets, bots automate the buying process so their parent companies can sell the tickets on for a fee.

Google’s version of CAPTCHA, which stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart” is called reCaptcha, and is the most widely used source of protection on the web. In their own words:

"reCAPTCHA offers more than just spam protection. Every time our CAPTCHAs are solved, that human effort helps digitize text, annotate images, and build machine learning datasets. This in turn helps preserve books, improve maps, and solve hard AI problems."

Now Google have turned their reCaptcha invisible, meaning no more annoying tests to prove whether you’re human or not! Well, almost. Google will continue to monitor user behaviour on sites, and if your visit falls into the category of ‘suspicious’ (your guess on this is probably as good as ours!), then a reCaptcha box will appear, but we’re likely to see far fewer of these tests.

The only negative we’ve seen of reCaptcha forms in the past, is their impact on user experience. While the checks obviously add value to your website security, it’s another step in the process of checking out, or submitting an enquiry.

Head of development, Andrew Womersley commented: “This update is a win win for users. From a design point of view, you no longer have to incorporate the captcha form into page layouts, which often results in an ugly checkbox. From a user point of view, the ‘I’m not a robot’ box is a confusing step for users. As 99% of web traffic will no longer see the captcha box, it creates better experiences across the web.”

You can watch Google's video about the new Invisible reCaptcha below

More from the blog