Will This Artificial Intelligence Render Captcha Obsolete?

  • 2 years ago
Blue Security Map | IT services in Hampshire

As a company that offers professional IT services in Hampshire, CSMB is very familiar with the ins and outs of cyber security, as well as the online measures taken by many to prevent spam. Captcha has become integral to our online experience as a whole, with many websites relying on it to keep their servers clear of bots – but could the development of new AI software ensure that this soon becomes a thing of the past?

What’s Captcha?

Whether you are a fan of it or not, we’re all familiar with Captcha – the strange distorted strings of letters and numbers that pop up periodically online to check if we’re “really human”. Captcha, or “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart” was originally invented to prevent bots from setting up mass fake accounts all across the web (not that this seems to have stopped them completely!) but computer scientists have now managed to develop an AI that completely turns this on its head.

Brains vs Networks

As a company that provides IT services in Hampshire, we had to ask just how they managed it? The answer lies within neural networks, which are modelled after human brains and contain hundreds of layers and many interconnected artificial “neurons”. Of course, for these networks to function properly, they first have to be trained how to recognise images by humans, which, ironically, is something that Captcha actually does. Yes, it’s true: some of the captchas you complete are used to help train AI systems and image recognition software! Considering this, perhaps it’s inevitable that AIs would eventually learn to solve these puzzles themselves.

However, even humans have difficulty completing certain Captchas, with a usual success rate of around 87%, and the AI closing the gap at 66.6%. The software in question (Recursive Cortical Network, or RCN) is not only able to crack Captchas with a level of reliability (a mere 20% less than humans), but actually mimics various processes found in the human brain, all the while using less computing power than standard neural networks.

Time Bomb

Captcha currently isn’t seeing any attacks, but past experience shows that it usually only takes a few months for hackers to start trying their luck after flaws have been publicly announced, especially as the required software becomes mainstream and easily accessible.

So, it seems clear that Captcha’s days are numbered; but what could hope to replace such a vital piece of security software? Only time will tell for sure, but two-factor authentication is being suggested as a reliable and secure replacement at the moment.

CSMB offers reliable IT services in Hampshire to companies in need of assistance with setting up communication, peace of mind regarding online security, overhauls of their current setup, and more. If you require any of our services or would like a free audit from us, simply contact our friendly team today by emailing sales@csmb.co.uk or calling 0203 478 3141. Alternatively, you can complete a contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.