|Professional Services||Second Signal||Presentations||Andrew's Blog||Support|
You might be a hacker.
If you've ever been asked to read an image of distorted letters and numbers, then type them into a field on a web form, you're using a Captcha.
The thing is, even though the programs that make the images are keeping ahead of the programs that read them, it is quickly loosing its effectiveness. Hackers are now using YOU to do the work.
Suppose a comment spammer wants to automate adding stuff to your blog, but you've got captcha codes set up. These spammers are resourceful people. Here's a method I heard about the other day.
1. Identify the part of the target page that shows the captcha image.
2. Code a script to read the page, and grab that image location - maybe even copy down the image.
3. Set up a PORN, Free Music, or other such site that also uses captcha for access. However, instead of having your own captch generator program, each time someone loads a page that asks for a user to interpret and enter the captcha digits, serve them the image from the page you're targeting.
4. The user, to get access to your porn or music site dutifully interprets the captcha image you shown him, and types it in. He submits the page, and now you have your human interpreted captcha result to use against your target page.
This method can easily and quickly be set up so that every single time you get some user to go through YOUR page using captcha, you're also using that same person to give you the data you need to create another bogus yahoo mail account, post a bogus blog comment, or otherwise mess with people.
Brilliant. Evil, but brilliant. Its a little insight into how the mind of a hacker works.
Please wait while your document is saved.
Also, there's a good posting over on the "Coding Horror" web site about how
even a very simple captcha works great for most web sites.
High-value targets (like ticketmaster) do need to be thinking about this issue.