When distributors of Viagra, pornography and the like want to plant their advertisements over the net, they use automated scripts, or “spambots.” Lately, these bots have attracted a lot of attention from the internet security industry.
One of the most common solutions to prevent spambots from accessing websites is Captcha – a box containing distorted letters, that users are required to type to prove they’re human.
Israeli company SiteBlackBox, founded by Erez Azaria and Shay Rapaport, specializes in detecting automated processes in websites, and claims that the existing Captcha has lost its relevance. “Spammers make a lot of money from their activity.” says Rapaport. “Assuming I create 10,000 fake e-mail accounts daily, and send a few thousand e-mail messages from each account before it’s blocked, I’ve sent a few million messages. Most of them will likely be filtered or blocked, but let’s assume 10,000 reached their target, of those 100 clicked through to my website, and 5 of them purchased my products. At the end, I’ve made a few hundred dollars. Was it worth it? Definitely, because it didn’t cost me anything.”
Due to the widespread use of Captchas, spammers added OCR (Optical Character Recognition) capabilities to their bots. In return, Captcha developers made the letters even more distorted, unfortunately, to the point where it becomes difficult for humans as well as spambots to read them. Then the spammers stroke back – entrepreneurs in India and Bangladesh created companies that provide Captcha-solving services, known as “Captcha Farms.”