Home Security Web & Email CAPTCHA May Be More Harmful Than Helpful

CAPTCHA May Be More Harmful Than Helpful

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If we were to have an annoying contest between passwords and CAPTCHAs, the winner would be passwords, but not by a huge margin.

CAPTCHA, which means “Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart,” was developed to foil bots from creating a bunch of accounts at websites and blogs. Once such accounts are created, they can be exploited by spammers for sending malicious messages. However, despite being useful, there are signs that CAPTCHA may have outlived its usefulness in the present scenario.

CAPTCHA decreases conversions

According to a study by Distil Networks this month, it was found that 12% of website visitors, when presented with CAPTCHA, were unlikely to continue with what they had come for. That figure is even worse for mobile users. About 27% of them will just close the site when confronted with a CAPTCHA.

Distil Networks CEO and cofounder Rami Essaid also said that using CAPTCHA during checkout or transaction could cost websites huge loses as many users hate to enter the letters or symbols.

Distil tried out CAPTCHA to prevent spammers but the attempt to solve a fraud problem dramatically decreased the company’s conversions by over 20%. So, that’s how Distil commissioned a study team to look at the problem.

CAPTCHA is against users, not bots

Essaid said that most users of the site were annoyed by CAPTCHAs so much that they simply leave any interaction or whatever they were doing. The result was shocking and dramatic.

It was also found that there was a wide gap between desktop and mobile abandonment. Since all CAPTCHAs being specifically created for desktops, mobile users find it hard to fill in.

Bots are better now

A big turnoff for CAPTCHAs is that their main purpose ­– to block bots – is becoming problematic. The bots have evolved to a point where they are able to solve CAPTCHAs, Essaid stated. Smart CAPTCHAs can stop many bots, but the worst bots can still get past a CAPTCHA.

So what do you think? Should we abandon using CAPTCHA on websites altogether and make up some new testing technology to tell bots and real humans apart? Share your thoughts in comments.