AI For Bot Detection
October 4, 2023

CAPTCHA needs to Evolve

A sudden howl roared up across the office.

“What do you mean”, she screeched,

“ I just have to match up the orientation of the Elephant’s trunk?”

The MD had just failed the advanced CAPTCHA for the second time and needed help. 

In a seemingly endless war of attrition, the bots are winning. While traditional CAPTCHAs were once effective, now they frustrate and annoy users, and often are bypassed by bots.Bots can now decipher distorted letters and numbers, rendering these old defences obsolete.  AI based image and voice recognition services have improved dramatically and are much cheaper to use than even a few years ago. CAPTCHA farms are also now widespread - enabling CyberCrime as a Service (CaaS) platforms to routinely plug into human CAPTCHA factories, who use cheap labour paid cents for each successful completion. 

Playing its part in the arms race, the software vendors make solving CAPTCHAs more difficult, often with a sinister twist. If you fail the first ‘easy’ ones, completion is made progressively more challenging. No room for human failure. Human’s routinely failing CAPTCHA is getting more and more common.

Let’s face it, users hate them.

The UX Research is clear:

In this blog article, we'll explore how CAPTCHAs, specifically reCAPTCHA and its traditional counterparts, are no longer sufficient in safeguarding online businesses. It's time to take a closer look at how you can you use AI bot detection platforms for accurate bot protection for the future.

CAPTCHA: An Aging Guardian

CAPTCHA, or Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart, was designed to distinguish between malicious bots and genuine human users. Why do we need an upgrade?

The Dark Side of Bots

Let's delve into the nefarious activities that bots engage in:

1. Creating Fake Accounts

Malicious bots create fake accounts to boost website traffic, skew analytics, overload servers, and deny real users access to services. It's a tactic often used by threat actors to disrupt online platforms.

2. Spamming Comments and Forms

Unchecked bots can inundate websites with inappropriate content and dangerous links. This not only tarnishes a site's reputation but also puts users at risk of scams and cyber threats.

3. Scalping High-Demand Products

Bots have been known to swoop in on high-demand products, like tickets or limited-edition merchandise, and resell them at exorbitant prices, exploiting genuine customers.

4. Manipulating Online Polls and Social Media

Malicious bots can manipulate product ratings, skewing public perception and undermining trust in online reviews. This misrepresentation affects consumer sentiment.

Evolving Threats

While traditional CAPTCHAs were once effective, the landscape has evolved. CAPTCHA isn’t enough.

Beyond CAPTCHA: A Comprehensive Approach

To stay ahead of malicious actors, organizations must strike a balance between security, user experience, and privacy. A single layer of security is no longer sufficient. Here are key considerations for developing an effective bot protection strategy:

1. Transparency in CAPTCHA

A CAPTCHA solution should offer transparency, allowing organizations to review false positives and negatives. An iterative feedback loop is essential for adapting to evolving threats.

2. Data Privacy

Users should never have to worry about their data being collected without consent. CAPTCHA solutions must adhere to global data privacy regulations and clearly communicate data usage.

3. User Experience

Traditional CAPTCHAs often impede user experience with slow loading times and accessibility issues. A modern CAPTCHA should be unobtrusive, quick to load, challenging for bots, and accessible to all users without compromising security.

The Recipe for Success?

As the threat landscape continues to evolve, so must CAPTCHAs. Businesses should seek solutions that incorporate a dedicated team capable of tailoring their protection strategy. This strategy should combine client-side and server-side capabilities, including device details, event tracking, reputation analysis, behavioral monitoring, and fingerprinting.

While CAPTCHAs alone may not provide complete bot protection, they remain a valuable tool when integrated into a comprehensive bot and online fraud protection program. In the ever-shifting battle against cyber threats, staying one step ahead is the key to success.

How VerifiedVisitors uses CAPTCHA.

Using ML to examine the complete risk surface area

VerifiedVisitors has a comprehensive AI-based bot management suite of detectors constantly working to examine each and every signal from your visitors. These include the detailed fingerprint analysis of the stated platform and even mouse movements. We combine these with the actual behaviour of the visitor, and its digital provenance. As part of an entire suite of tools, CAPTCHA can be  just one tool in helping to defeat the bots. The CAPTCHA fail and pass rate forms part of this continual feedback look, and is used to further improve the human or bot validation. For example, once classic indication of a CAPTCHA farm is the overall latency increase. The CAPTCHA event is passed onto the farm, queued up for completion and then passed back via an API. This sequence takes longer than your average human completion. Of course humans often will get distracted and sometimes take longer to complete, but this type of multi-variant analysis is a great application for the Machine Learning to identify a suspicious cohort and then look for other tell-tale signs of bot activity in that sub-set of data. 

Using the Output of the CAPTCHA Results

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