If you’ve used any secure site on the Internet before, the chances are that you’ve used a CAPTCHA before. The term CAPTCHA stands for the Completely Automated Public Turing test, and it’s a tool designed to help tell humans and computers apart. 

The purpose is to block any robots, automated users, or digital malware from infiltrating sites.

CAPTCHA works like a challenge or a test, putting forth problems that are very easy for humans to solve but difficult for computers. 

For example, a CAPTCHA may ask you to identify cars in a series of pictures, except that the car would be situated in a different real-life scenario in each picture. In other words, it won’t be clipart, but it’ll still be fairly easy for you to point out which pictures have cars. But as for AI? 

Well, it couldn’t differentiate the images of cars from others, which means no bots could go through the system.

How Does a CAPTCHA Work?

Standard CAPTCHAs, which are still being used on some web properties today, involve requesting users to recognize letters from the alphabet and numbers. The letters are distorted to make it hard for bots to recognize them. 

To finish the assessment, users need to decipher the twisted content, type the right letters into a structure field, and submit the form. On the off chance that the letters end up not matching, you'll be allowed to attempt once more. 

Such tests are quite regular in login structures, account information exchange forms, online surveys, and eCommerce checkout pages.

The concept is that a computerized program, for example, a bot, will not decipher the distorted letters. However, a human being, accustomed to seeing and interpreting letters in a wide range of settings – various text styles, various penmanship styles, and so forth – can easily recognize them. 

The best that some bots may be able to do is enter many random letters, which means that the chance they might pass would be improbable. As a result, bots fail the test and are hindered from connecting with the site or application, while humans can keep utilizing it like normal.

What Is reCAPTCHA?

reCAPTCHA is a free service Google offers as a substitute for the standard CAPTCHAs. reCAPTCHA technology was created by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and then eventually acquired by Google in 2009. 

reCAPTCHA is a lot more developed than the regular CAPTCHA tests. The example we gave at the start of car pictures was that of an image recognition reCAPTCHA.

Similar to CAPTCHA, some reCAPTCHAs expect users to enter pictures of text that computers experience difficulty interpreting. 

But unlike standard CAPTCHAs, reCAPTCHA sources the content from true pictures: pictures of road addresses, text from printed books, text from old papers, etc.

Can CAPTCHA Be Bypassed?

It’s normal to wonder whether CAPTCHA is as secure as it’s supposed to be.

The unfortunate answer is no, CAPTCHA can be bypassed by bots - even though it does take some effort. 

Some bots can get past the text CAPTCHAs on their own. Researchers have shown ways to compose a program that could beat the image recognition system of CAPTCHAs too. 

Moreover, attackers or hackers can use click farms to beat the tests: thousands of low-paid workers solving CAPTCHA for the benefit of bots.

So, yes, there's undoubtedly a need for other security measures in place (to block unwanted bots) apart from regular CAPTCHAs.

Key Takeaway

Overall, CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA are relatively efficient systems of distinguishing artificial intelligence from human beings. They’re used as a security measure in many sites and applications, ensuring that any bots or automated users don’t hack into or disturb the system.