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Spammers and porn sites team up to beat CAPTCHA

I was just reading an interesting article The Human Advantage in the July 07 of Wired Magazine.  The story is about this computer genius Luis von Ahn who has developed various ways for humans to assist computers.  One of von Ahn’s inventions is the CAPTCHA — it’s that distorted text box that you see when you register for a new free email account and on other forms.  CAPTCHA is an acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart."  The goal of CAPTCHA is to prevent spambots and other evilbots from registering on these forms and wreaking havoc.  Since computers have a really tough time figuring out these puzzles, it is a very effective shield.

But it turns out the spammers were not totally thwarted.  They turned to their friends who run porn sites and they made a deal… the porn sites offered free porn to its human users in return for solving CAPTCHA puzzles passed over from the spammers.  So, the spambot encounters a CAPTCHA passes it to the porn site who presents it to the user who solves the puzzle and sends the answer back to the spambot who enters the answer and then wreaks its havoc.

Very creative.  What if these guys used their creativity for good?  The world would be a much better place.

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