What is CAPTCHA? How does it work?

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You’ve probably seen the text “I’m not a robot” quite a few times. It forces you to prove you’re a human countless times in your life. I know you hate it as much as I do. But have you ever wondered what it actually is and why is it used? Or, maybe how does it work by forcing us to select some sort of traffic lights, crosswalks, storefronts as well as an image of a fire hydrant from various set of pictures? Well, in this article I’ll explain to you what exactly CAPTCHA is and what actually goes on in the background while you’re solving it. Likewise, I’ll also explain what is the purpose of forcing you to prove you are not a robot each time you create an account. 

What is CAPTCHA ?

CAPTCHA is a short form for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.” It is a challenge-response test used in computing to determine whether the user is human. The term ‘CAPTCHA’ was first propounded in 2000 by Luis von Ahn, Manuel Blum, Nicholas J. Hopper, and John Langford of Carnegie Mellon University.

Why do websites use it?

Captcha is often known as the gatekeeper of websites to block spam and malicious programs from accessing them. It is widely used by websites and internet companies to protect themselves from hacks and spam by bots. This is especially important for websites that have forms online since the bots can use them to post spam. The process of entering information into a form can also generate revenue from Google ads. So, it’s important for companies to make sure real people who are creating accounts are filling out these forms. Other than these, sites want a real human to create an account rather than any bots or computer program using the service. 

How does CAPTCHA work?

The goal of CAPTCHA is to pose a question or task which is impossible for the computer to complete while also being easy for humans. It takes scanned words that the computer cannot recognize. And then, it presents them to humans along with a known word for interpretation. If 10 other people agree on the transcription of the unknown word, the system will assume this to be correct and you’ll get a tick mark and can proceed ahead. 

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These days most websites use some kind of CAPTCHA to verify that you are human and not a spamming bot. They can be annoying, but they are an important way for companies to keep their information secure.

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