What is CAPTCHA? – Google Workspace Admin Help
Send feedback help content & informationGeneral Help Center experience CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) is a type of security measure known as challenge-response authentication. CAPTCHA helps protect you from spam and password decryption by asking you to complete a simple test that proves you are human and not a computer trying to break into a password protected account.
A CAPTCHA test is made up of two simple parts: a randomly generated sequence of letters and/or numbers that appear as a distorted image, and a text box. To pass a the test and prove your human identity, simply type the characters you see in the image into the text box.
Why does Google use CAPTCHA?
Google is committed to keeping your information safe and secure. CAPTCHA offers protection from remote digital entry by making sure only a human being with the right password can access your account. CAPTCHA works because computers can create a distorted image and process a response, but they can’t read or solve the problem the way a human must to pass the test.
Many web services, including Google, use CAPTCHA to help prevent unauthorized account entry. You may also see CAPTCHA on other sites that provide access to sensitive information, such as bank or credit card accounts.
When does Google use CAPTCHA?
Google uses CAPTCHA to strengthen the security around the most sensitive account access points. You may see a CAPTCHA when you:
Sign up for a new Google service (Gmail, Blogger, YouTube)
Sign up for any edition of a Google Workspace Account
Change a password on an existing account
Setup Google services for a third party device or application (such as iPhone, Outlook, ActiveSync, etc. )
I am having difficulty viewing a CAPTCHA image. What can I do?
If you can’t see a CAPTCHA image or are having trouble reading the text, refresh your browser for a new image.
Although CAPTCHAs normally rely on images, audio versions are available for the visually impaired. To access an audio version, click the link that appears near the text box as the International Symbol of Access image (the wheel-chair icon). The alternate text for this image is, “Listen and then type the numbers you hear. ” CAPTCHA is not supported for the deaf-blind community.
Was this helpful? How can we improve it?
What Does CAPTCHA Mean? | CAPTCHA Types & Examples
What is CAPTCHA
CAPTCHA stands for the Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. CAPTCHAs are tools you can use to differentiate between real users and automated users, such as bots. CAPTCHAs provide challenges that are difficult for computers to perform but relatively easy for humans. For example, identifying stretched letters or numbers, or clicking in a specific area.
What are CAPTCHAs Used for
CAPTCHAs are used by any website that wishes to restrict usage by bots. Specific uses include:
Maintaining poll accuracy—CAPTCHAs can prevent poll skewing by ensuring that each vote is entered by a human. Although this does not limit the overall number of votes that can be made, it makes the time required for each vote longer, discouraging multiple votes.
Limiting registration for services—services can use CAPTCHAs to prevent bots from spamming registration systems to create fake accounts. Restricting account creation prevents waste of a service’s resources and reduces opportunities for fraud.
Preventing ticket inflation—ticketing systems can use CAPTCHA to limit scalpers from purchasing large numbers of tickets for resale. It can also be used to prevent false registrations to free events.
Preventing false comments—CAPTCHAs can prevent bots from spamming message boards, contact forms, or review sites. The extra step required by a CAPTCHA can also play a role in reducing online harassment through inconvenience.
How Does CAPTCHA Work
CAPTCHAs work by providing information to a user for interpretation. Traditional CAPTCHAs provided distorted or overlapping letters and numbers that a user then has to submit via a form field. The distortion of the letters made it difficult for bots to interpret the text and prevented access until the characters were verified.
This CAPTCHA type relies on a human’s ability to generalize and recognize novel patterns based on variable past experience. In contrast, bots can often only follow set patterns or input randomized characters. This limitation makes it unlikely that bots will correctly guess the right combination.
Since CAPTCHA was introduced, bots that use machine learning have been developed. These bots are better able to identify traditional CAPTCHAs with algorithms trained in pattern recognition. Due to this development, newer CAPTCHA methods are based on more complex tests. For example, reCAPTCHA requires clicking in a specific area and waiting until a timer runs out.
Drawbacks of Using CAPTCHA
The overwhelming benefit of CAPTCHA is that it is highly effective against all but the most sophisticated bad bots. However, CAPTCHA mechanisms can negatively affect the user experience on your website:
Disruptive and frustrating for users
May be difficult to understand or use for some audiences
Some CAPTCHA types do not support all browsers
Some CAPTCHA types are not accessible to users who view a website using screen readers or assistive devices
CAPTCHA Types: Examples
Modern CAPTCHAs fall into three main categories—text-based, image-based, and audio.
Text-based CAPTCHAs are the original way in which humans were verified. These CAPTCHAs can use known words or phrases, or random combinations of digits and letters. Some text-based CAPTCHAs also include variations in capitalization.
The CAPTCHA presents these characters in a way that is alienated and requires interpretation. Alienation can involve scaling, rotation, distorting characters. It can also involve overlapping characters with graphic elements such as color, background noise, lines, arcs, or dots. This alienation provides protection against bots with insufficient text recognition algorithms but can also be difficult for humans to interpret.
Text-based CAPTCHA patterns
Techniques for creating text-based CAPTCHAs include:
Gimpy—chooses an arbitrary number of words from an 850-word dictionary and provides those words in a distorted fashion.
EZ-Gimpy—is a variation of Gimpy that uses only one word.
Gimpy-r—selects random letters, then distorts and adds background noise to characters.
Simard’s HIP—selects random letters and numbers, then distorts characters with arcs and colors.
Image-based CAPTCHAs were developed to replace text-based ones. These CAPTCHAs use recognizable graphical elements, such as photos of animals, shapes, or scenes. Typically, image-based CAPTCHAs require users to select images matching a theme or to identify images that don’t fit.
You can see an example of this type of CAPTCHA below. Note that it defines the theme using an image instead of text.
Example of image-based CAPTCHA
Image-based CAPTCHAs are typically easier for humans to interpret than text-based. However, these tools present distinct accessibility issues for visually impaired users. For bots, image-based CAPTCHAs are more difficult than text to interpret because these tools require both image recognition and semantic classification.
Audio CAPTCHAs were developed as an alternative that grants accessibility to visually impaired users. These CAPTCHAs are often used in combination with text or image-based CAPTCHAs. Audio CAPTCHAs present an audio recording of a series of letters or numbers which a user then enters.
These CAPTCHAs rely on bots not being able to distinguish relevant characters from background noise. Like text-based CAPTCHAs, these tools can be difficult for humans to interpret as well as for bots.
Math or Word Problems
Some CAPTCHA mechanisms ask users to solve a simple mathematical problem such as “3+4” or “18-3”. The assumption is that a bot will find it difficult to identify the question and devise a response. Another variant is a word problem, asking the user to type the missing word in a sentence, or complete a sequence of several related terms. These types of problems are accessible to vision impaired users, but at the same time they may be easier for bad bots to solve.
Social Media Sign In
A popular alternative to CAPTCHA is requiring users to sign in using a social profile such as Facebook, Google or LinkedIn. The user’s details will be automatically filled in using single sign on (SSO) functionality provided by the social media website.
This is still disruptive, but may actually be easier for the user to complete than other forms of CAPTCHA. An additional benefit is that it is a convenient registration mechanism.
No CAPTCHA ReCAPTCHA
This type of CAPTCHA, known for its use by Google, is much easier for users than most other types. It provides a checkbox saying “I am not a robot” which users need to select – and that’s all. It works by tracking user movements and identifying if the click and other user activity on the page resembles human activity or a bot. If the test fails, reCAPTCHA provides a traditional image selection CAPTCHA, but in most cases the checkbox test suffices to validate the user.
Imperva Bot Detection: CAPTCHA as a Last Line of Defense
Imperva provides the option to deploy CAPTCHAs, but uses it as the final line of defense, if all other bot identification mechanisms fail. This means it will be used for a very small percentage of user traffic. Imperva does provide the option to manually enforce CAPTCHA, for websites that need a stricter approach to advanced bot protection.
In addition to providing bad bot mitigation, Imperva provides multi-layered protection to make sure websites and applications are available, easily accessible and safe. The Imperva application security solution includes:
DDoS Protection—maintain uptime in all situations. Prevent any type of DDoS attack, of any size, from preventing access to your website and network infrastructure.
CDN—enhance website performance and reduce bandwidth costs with a CDN designed for developers. Cache static resources at the edge while accelerating APIs and dynamic websites.
Cloud WAF—permit legitimate traffic and prevent bad traffic. Safeguard your applications at the edge with an enterprise‑class cloud WAF.
Gateway WAF—keep applications and APIs inside your network safe with Imperva Gateway WAF.
RASP—keep your applications safe from within against known and zero‑day attacks. Fast and accurate protection with no signature or learning mode.
How CAPTCHA Works – Computer | HowStuffWorks
You’re using your computer to purchase tickets to see a concert at a local venue. Before you can buy the tickets, you first have to pass a test. It’s not a hard test — in fact, that’s the point. For you, the test should be simple and straightforward. But for a computer, the test should be almost impossible to sort of test is a CAPTCHA, an acronym that stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart. They’re also known as a type of Human Interaction Proof (HIP). You’ve probably seen CAPTCHA tests on lots of Web sites. The most common form of CAPTCHA is an image of several distorted letters. It’s your job to type the correct series of letters into a form. If your letters match the ones in the distorted image, you pass the would anyone need to create a test that can tell humans and computers apart? It’s because of people trying to game the system — they want to exploit weaknesses in the computers running the site. While these individuals probably make up a minority of all the people on the Internet, their actions can affect millions of users and Web sites. For example, a free e-mail service might find itself bombarded by account requests from an automated program. That automated program could be part of a larger attempt to send out spam mail to millions of people. The CAPTCHA test helps identify which users are real human beings and which ones are computer interesting thing about CAPTCHA tests is that the people who design the tests aren’t always upset when their tests fail. That’s because for a CAPTCHA test to fail, someone has to find a way to teach a computer how to solve the test. In other words, every CAPTCHA failure is really an advance in artificial ‘s take a closer look at exactly what a CAPTCHA is in the next ntentsCAPTCHAs and the Turing TestWho Uses CAPTCHACreating a CAPTCHABreaking a CAPTCHACAPTCHA and Artificial IntelligenceCAPTCHAs and the Turing TestCAPTCHA technology has its foundation in an experiment called the Turing Test. Alan Turing, sometimes called the father of modern computing, proposed the test as a way to examine whether or not machines can think — or appear to think — like humans. The classic test is a game of imitation. In this game, an interrogator asks two participants a series of questions. One of the participants is a machine and the other is a human. The interrogator can’t see or hear the participants and has no way of knowing which is which. If the interrogator is unable to figure out which participant is a machine based on the responses, the machine passes the Turing course, with a CAPTCHA, the goal is to create a test that humans can pass easily but machines can’t. It’s also important that the CAPTCHA application is able to present different CAPTCHAs to different users. If a visual CAPTCHA presented a static image that was the same for every user, it wouldn’t take long before a spammer spotted the form, deciphered the letters, and programmed an application to type in the correct answer, but not all, CAPTCHAs rely on a visual test. Computers lack the sophistication that human beings have when it comes to processing visual data. We can look at an image and pick out patterns more easily than a computer. The human mind sometimes perceives patterns even when none exist, a quirk we call pareidolia. Ever see a shape in the clouds or a face on the moon? That’s your brain trying to associate random information into patterns and not all CAPTCHAs rely on visual patterns. In fact, it’s important to have an alternative to a visual CAPTCHA. Otherwise, the Web site administrator runs the risk of disenfranchising any Web user who has a visual impairment. One alternative to a visual test is an audible one. An audio CAPTCHA usually presents the user with a series of spoken letters or numbers. It’s not unusual for the program to distort the speaker’s voice, and it’s also common for the program to include background noise in the recording. This helps thwart voice recognition programs. Another option is to create a CAPTCHA that asks the reader to interpret a short passage of text. A contextual CAPTCHA quizzes the reader and tests comprehension skills. While computer programs can pick out key words in text passages, they aren’t very good at understanding what those words actually the next section, we’ll take a closer look at the kinds of sites that use CAPTCHA to verify whether or not you have a Uses CAPTCHAOne common application of CAPTCHA is for verifying online polls. In fact, a former Slashdot poll serves as an example of what can go wrong if pollsters don’t implement filters on their surveys. In 1999, Slashdot published a poll that asked visitors to choose the graduate school that had the best program in computer science. Students from two universities — Carnegie Mellon and MIT — created automated programs called bots to vote repeatedly for their respective schools. While those two schools received thousands of votes, the other schools only had a few hundred each. If it’s possible to create a program that can vote in a poll, how can we trust online poll results at all? A CAPTCHA form can help prevent programmers from taking advantage of the polling gistration forms on Web sites often use CAPTCHAs. For example, free Web-based e-mail services like Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail or Gmail allow people to create an e-mail account free of charge. Usually, users must provide some personal information when creating an account, but the services typically don’t verify this information. They use CAPTCHAs to try to prevent spammers from using bots to generate hundreds of spam mail brokers like TicketMaster also use CAPTCHA applications. These applications help prevent ticket scalpers from bombarding the service with massive ticket purchases for big events. Without some sort of filter, it’s possible for a scalper to use a bot to place hundreds or thousands of ticket orders in a matter of seconds. Legitimate customers become victims as events sell out minutes after tickets become available. Scalpers then try to sell the tickets above face value. While CAPTCHA applications don’t prevent scalping, they do make it more difficult to scalp tickets on a large Web pages have message boards or contact forms that allow visitors to either post messages to the site or send them directly to the Web administrators. To prevent an avalanche of spam, many of these sites have a CAPTCHA program to filter out the noise. A CAPTCHA won’t stop someone who is determined to post a rude message or harass an administrator, but it will help prevent bots from posting messages most common form of CAPTCHA requires visitors to type in a word or series of letters and numbers that the application has distorted in some way. Some CAPTCHA creators came up with a way to increase the value of such an application: digitizing books. An application called reCAPTCHA harnesses users responses in CAPTCHA fields to verify the contents of a scanned piece of paper. Because computers aren’t always able to identify words from a digital scan, humans have to verify what a printed page says. Then it’s possible for search engines to search and index the contents of a scanned ‘s how it works: First, the administrator of the reCAPTCHA program digitally scans a book. Then, the reCAPTCHA program selects two words from the digitized image. The application already recognizes one of the words. If the visitor types that word into a field correctly, the application assumes the second word the user types is also correct. That second word goes into a pool of words that the application will present to other users. As each user types in a word, the application compares the word to the original answer. Eventually, the application receives enough responses to verify the word with a high degree of certainty. That word can then go into the verified sounds time consuming, but remember that in this case the CAPTCHA is pulling double duty. Not only is it verifying the contents of a digitized book, it’s also verifying that the people filling out the form are actually people. In turn, those people are gaining access to a service they want to, we’ll take a look at the process that goes into creating a eating a CAPTCHAThe first step to creating a CAPTCHA is to look at the different ways humans and machines process information. Machines follow sets of instructions. If something falls outside the realm of those instructions, the machine isn’t able to compensate. A CAPTCHA designer has to take this into account when creating a test. For example, it’s easy to build a program that looks at metadata — the information on the Web that’s invisible to humans but machines can read. If you create a visual CAPTCHA and the image’s metadata includes the solution, your CAPTCHA will be broken in no milarly, it’s unwise to build a CAPTCHA that doesn’t distort letters and numbers in some way. An undistorted series of characters isn’t very secure. Many computer programs can scan an image and recognize simple shapes like letters and way to create a CAPTCHA is to pre-determine the images and solutions it will use. This approach requires a database that includes all the CAPTCHA solutions, which can compromise the reliability of the test. According to Microsoft Research experts Kumar Chellapilla and Patrice Simard, humans should have an 80 percent success rate at solving any particular CAPTCHA, but machines should only have a 0. 01 success rate [source: Chellapilla and Simard]. If a spammer managed to find a list of all CAPTCHA solutions, he or she could create an application that bombards the CAPTCHA with every possible answer in a brute force attack. The database would need more than 10, 000 possible CAPTCHAs to meet the qualifications of a good CAPTCHA applications create random strings of letters and numbers. You aren’t likely to ever get the same series twice. Using randomization eliminates the possibility of a brute force attack — the odds of a bot entering the correct series of random letters are very low. The longer the string of characters, the less likely a bot will get PTCHAs take different approaches to distorting words. Some stretch and bend letters in weird ways, as if you’re looking at the word through melted glass. Others put the word behind a crosshatched pattern of bars to break up the shape of the letters. A few use different colors or a field of dots to achieve the same effect. In the end, the goal is the same: to make it really hard for a computer to figure out what’s in the signers can also create puzzles or problems that are easy for humans to solve. Some CAPTCHAs rely on pattern recognition and extrapolation. For example, a CAPTCHA might include a series of shapes and ask the user which shape among several choices would logically come next. The problem with this approach is that not all humans are good with these kinds of problems and the success rate for a human user can drop below 80, we’ll take a look at how computers can break eaking a CAPTCHAThe challenge in breaking a CAPTCHA isn’t figuring out what a message says — after all, humans should have at least an 80 percent success rate. The really hard task is teaching a computer how to process information in a way similar to how humans think. In many cases, people who break CAPTCHAs concentrate not on making computers smarter, but reducing the complexity of the problem posed by the ‘s assume you’ve protected an online form using a CAPTCHA that displays English words. The application warps the font slightly, stretching and bending the letters in unpredictable ways. In addition, the CAPTCHA includes a randomly generated background behind the word. A programmer wishing to break this CAPTCHA could approach the problem in phases. He or she would need to write an algorithm — a set of instructions that directs a machine to follow a certain series of steps. In this scenario, one step might be to convert the image in grayscale. That means the application removes all the color from the image, taking away one of the levels of obfuscation the CAPTCHA, the algorithm might tell the computer to detect patterns in the black and white image. The program compares each pattern to a normal letter, looking for matches. If the program can only match a few of the letters, it might cross reference those letters with a database of English words. Then it would plug in likely candidates into the submit field. This approach can be surprisingly effective. It might not work 100 percent of the time, but it can work often enough to be worthwhile to about more complex CAPTCHAs? The Gimpy CAPTCHA displays 10 English words with warped fonts across an irregular background. The CAPTCHA arranges the words in pairs and the words of each pair overlap one another. Users have to type in three correct words in order to move forward. How reliable is this approach? As it turns out, with the right CAPTCHA-cracking algorithm, it’s not terribly reliable. Greg Mori and Jitendra Malik published a paper detailing their approach to cracking the Gimpy version of CAPTCHA. One thing that helped them was that the Gimpy approach uses actual words rather than random strings of letters and numbers. With this in mind, Mori and Malik designed an algorithm that tried to identify words by examining the beginning and end of the string of letters. They also used the Gimpy’s 500-word and Malik ran a series of tests using their algorithm. They found that their algorithm could correctly identify the words in a Gimpy CAPTCHA 33 percent of the time [source: Mori and Malik]. While that’s far from perfect, it’s also significant. Spammers can afford to have only one-third of their attempts succeed if they set bots to break CAPTCHAs several hundred times every ‘d think that the inventors of CAPTCHA would be upset that their hard work is being picked apart by hackers, but you’d be wrong. Find out why in the next PTCHA and Artificial IntelligenceLuis von Ahn of Carnegie Mellon University is one of the inventors of CAPTCHA. In a 2006 lecture, von Ahn talked about the relationship between things like CAPTCHA and the field of artificial intelligence (AI). Because CAPTCHA is a barrier between spammers or hackers and their goal, these people have dedicated time and energy toward breaking CAPTCHAs. Their successes mean that machines are getting more sophisticated. Every time someone figures out how to teach a machine to defeat a CAPTCHA, we move one step closer to artificial people find new ways to get around CAPTCHA, computer scientists like von Ahn develop CAPTCHAs that address other challenges in the field of AI. A step backward for CAPTCHA is still a step forward for AI — every defeat is also a victory [source: Human Computation] what about Web administrators? They might not find von Ahn’s philosophy to be nearly as attractive. From their perspective, they still have to deal with a massive problem — spammers and hackers. People who maintain Web sites or create online polls need to be aware that several CAPTCHA systems are no longer effective. It’s important to do a little research on which CAPTCHA applications are still reliable. And it’s equally important to keep up to date on the subject. If one CAPTCHA system fails, the administrator might need to remove the code from his or her site and replace it with another for CAPTCHA designers, they have to walk a fine line. As computers become more sophisticated, the testing method must also evolve. But if the test evolves to the point where humans can no longer solve a CAPTCHA with a decent success rate, the system as a whole fails. The answer may not involve warping or distorting text — it might require users to solve a mathematical equation or answer questions about a short story. And as these tests get more complicated, there’s a risk of losing user interest. How many people will still want to post a reply to a message board if they must first solve a quadratic equation? In 2014, Google (which acquired reCAPTCHA in 2009) started phasing out the classic service. In place, it asked you to check a box with the words “I am not a robot. ” This was called No CAPTCHA. In 2017, Google announced it was as getting rid of No CAPTCHA. Instead the service would rely on techniques like noticing how you move an onscreen pointer or analyzing your browsing habits to determine whether you are human or robot. This is called Invisible reCAPTCHA. If you seem suspicious (perhaps you are in fact a robot), you’ll see one of the old reCAPTCHA challenges to solve as further verification[source: Titcomb] More InformationRelated HowStuffWorks ArticlesHow Code Breakers WorkHow Spam WorksHow Spyware WorksHow JAVA WorksHow Computer Viruses WorkHow Encryption WorksHow Gmail WorksHow Google WorksHow Hackers WorkHow Internet Search Engines WorkWhat is a computer algorithm? How can a logical machine like a computer generate a random number? More Great LinksGwapThe Official CAPTCHA SiteReCAPTCHASourcesChellapilla, Kumar and Patrice Simard. “Using Machine Learning to Break Visual Human Interaction Proofs (HIPS). ” Microsoft Research. (Aug. 6, 2008), Monica and J. D. Tygar. “Collaborative Filtering CAPTCHAs. ” In Human Interactive Proofs: Second International Workshop. 2005. 4, 2008), Carl. “Breaking Google’s audio CAPTCHA. ” Computerworld. May 2, 2008. 4, 2008), John. “Spammers crack Gmail CAPTCHA. ” The Register. Feb. 25, 2008. 5, 2008), Greg and Jitendra Malik. “Breaking a Visual CAPTCHA. ” Simon Fraser University. 4, 2008), Graham and David Dowe. “The Turing Test. ” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. April 9, 2003. 5, 2008), Clive. “For Certain Tasks, the Cortex Still Beats the CPU. ” Wired. June 25, 2007. 5, 2008), Steven J. “How CAPTCHA got trashed. July 15, 2008. 5, 2008) Ahn, Luis. “Human Computation. ” Google TechTalks. July 26, 2006. 6, 2008) Ahn, Luis, Manuel Blum and John Langford. “Telling Humans and Computers Apart Automatically. ” Communications of the ACM. 2004. Vol. 47, No. 2. 4, 2008) Ahn, Luis, Manuel Blum and John Langford. “Using Hard AI Problems for Security. ” Computer Science Department — Carnegie Mellon University. ( Aug. 4, 2008) Working Group Note. “Inaccessibility of CAPTCHA. ” W3C. Nov. 23, 2005. 4, 2008)
Frequently Asked Questions about capcha
What is CAPTCHA example?
CAPTCHAs are tools you can use to differentiate between real users and automated users, such as bots. CAPTCHAs provide challenges that are difficult for computers to perform but relatively easy for humans. For example, identifying stretched letters or numbers, or clicking in a specific area.
How do I enable CAPTCHA?
How to enable reCAPTCHA:Fill in the registration form, using information about your SilkStart website. … Copy the Captcha Site Key and Site Secret that reCAPTCHA gives you.Log in to your SilkStart site, and from the Admin Panel, go to Site > Website Settings, and paste in your Captcha Site Key and Site Secret.More items…•Apr 2, 2020
How does a CAPTCHA work?
The most common form of CAPTCHA is an image of several distorted letters. It’s your job to type the correct series of letters into a form. If your letters match the ones in the distorted image, you pass the test. … The CAPTCHA test helps identify which users are real human beings and which ones are computer programs.Aug 18, 2008