Artificial intelligence could spell the end for one of the most widely used website security systems. A new algorithm, based on deep learning methods, is the most effective solver of CAPTCHA security and authentication systems to date. CAPTCHA is an acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart", a type of challenge–response test used in computing to determine whether or not the user is human.
Text-based CAPTCHAs use a jumble of letters and numbers, alongside other security features such as occluding lines, to distinguish between humans and malicious automated computer programmes. The system relies on people finding it easier to decipher the characters than machines.
Developed by computer scientists at Lancaster University in the UK as well as Northwest University and Peking University in China, the new algorithm delivers significantly higher accuracy than previous CAPTCHA attack systems, and is able to successfully crack versions where previous attacks failed. It is also highly efficient, able to pass a test within 0.05 seconds on a desktop PC.
Well that's impressive - it usually takes me about 10 seconds to work out what a CAPTCHA is trying to tell me!