Sunday, October 21, 2007

The most unusual image verification process on the Internet

You must have come across image verification process on the Internet quite often. When you register in forums, social networking sites, blogs and other communities you have to type out some letters and numbers in a box from an image, to prove that you are a human and not a spam bot. The most widely used image verification technique, also known as CAPTCHA, is where you have to identify twisted images of alphabets and digits and correctly enter them in a box. Infact, I haven't seen any other image verification process anywhere, until now.

There is a social book marking site called Thoof, similar to other popular sites like Digg and Reddit. The other day, when I was submitting a story on Thoof I saw a rather amusing image verification process. Here, I was asked not to identify alphabets but kittens!! The image showed a couple of kittens along with some other animals you will rarely get to see together, like chickens, rats and some strange unidentified black animals. See the image below.

You have to click on all the kittens and then click Submit to successfully complete the process. Every time you click on an animal on the image, the animal begins to glow. It's a way of showing which animals are selected. If you make a mistake and make a rat glow, you will have to start all over again.

No doubt, it's a unique way of telling humans apart from computers, but it suffers from one major flaw. The same set of the kittens, chickens and rats appear on all the images only at different positions.

The same kittens, the same chickens and the same rats. Not to mention the same black unknown species.

To me it doesn't look like a very clever way of keeping away bots. All you have to do is feed the images of those kittens into a program and let it scan the image. The program just has to recognize where the pattern of pixels occur in the image and then simulate mouse clicks. The only way this method will work is if they show a different kitten each time.

I guess normal CAPTCHA is a much better way.


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