‘CAPTCHA’ Annoying Spam Mongers

All experienced web surfers have heard of spam. Not the canned, pre-cooked meat product but the time wasting junk messages that end up stealing links, eating up network bandwidth, and wasting your time. Website owners and web administrators alike are well aware of malicious web robots that crawl the web, filling out forms with their junk postings or leaving annoying spam comments on the site, thereby also impacting your site’s SEO. There are innovative ways to design efficient sign-up and log-in forms to fight off these pesky spam bots and one such tool is CAPTCHA.

What Is CAPTCHA?

A CAPTCHA is an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.  It is a verification process to distinguish if a user is human or a computer. The most common type of CAPTCHA requires the user to enter a code correctly from an image of obscured letters or number sequence displayed in a box. CAPTCHAs are highly effective in stopping automated bots from spamming and abusing a site’s resources, as well as deterring brute-force attacks, because the task of reading the images correctly is easy for humans but proves difficult for computers. When spam bots fail at this challenge they are unable to submit the form.  CAPTCHA was first used by Alta Vista to prevent automated search submissions but now it is used to prevent spam from automated form submissions that jam your site with junk messages, spam user accounts, and this process can even identify security holes that can be exploited on your site.

While using CAPTCHA does ensure that only real live humans fill out your web forms, verification systems that are prohibitive often become an obstacle for users browsing your site, which can hurt conversion rates. However, when the CAPTCHA system is used properly and for the customer’s protection, sites of all sizes stand to benefit from it.

How Can CAPTCHA Be Used?

Use a CAPTCHA to help reduce spam, increase security and prevent hacking. 

To reduce spam, use a CAPTCHA submission form at the end of your contact page/form. It will block most of the junk emails that would otherwise wind up in your Inbox, wasting your resources and time.  Most website administrators find it frustrating to deal with spam comments. While there are plugins that can capture spam comments from bots and send them to the spam folder in your dashboard, they can’t stop these comments from being submitted all together. CAPTCHAs help in blocking a large portion of spam comments from even being submitted.

A website is the digital presence of a company, brand, or person and protecting it from any security risks is essential in preventing loss of reputation for the brand. The simple CAPTCHA has proven to be an effective way of preventing automated attacks. For instance, you can make modifications to the login page on your site by adding a custom CAPTCHA field in your login form for security reasons.

CAPTCHA also helps prevent brute force attacks that try to steal customer data. CAPTCHA prevents any automated mechanisms from trying to crack into a customer-focused site to get access to their sensitive data. The notifications you receive from failed CAPTCHA entries should be examined for security issues, as an increase in CAPTCHA code failures from unknown areas may be a sign that your site is a target for improper advances. You must increase security protocols for the safety of your website and the protection of your customers.

Where Do I Need To Use CAPTCHA?     

CAPTCHA protection can be added to your web site in these areas:

  • Naked forms for processing user-submitted data through contact forms, e-mail forms, comment forms, and registration forms
  • New user sign up forms.
  • Surveys or polls.
  • Account change or password request pages.
  • Pages that accept file uploads or downloads by users.
  • For all user-submitted data.

The Best CAPTCHA Codes
The best CAPTCHA code for your website helps protect the users’ private information by using sets of numbers or letters that could be case sensitive. The visual sequence is generally obscured in some way, or set against some complex background, to make it more difficult for bots to pick out the letters. But the CAPTCHA code should not be too long or too difficult for users to read as it will end up frustrating the users on your site, resulting in a poor user experience. Overuse of the CAPTCHA windows may force users to give up on your site. So carefully place CAPTCHA codes only in the areas of the site where it is most needed. The best CAPTCHA’s allow users to request a new code if the one given cannot be read.  Include audio options and an enhanced version of the code for as alternative ways for the user to identify the CAPTCHA.

Types of CAPTCHA

There have been different types of CAPTCHAs designed over the years in order to block spam.

ReCAPTCHA
It is a code system used by Google with two words or numbers for users to decipher. It is used by Google to assist with automatic digitization of books and recognition of street signs. The reCAPTCHA widget can be added to your website to prevent spam and to make sure that the visitors signing up are actually human.

No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA
The update to reCAPTCHA minimizes the attempts made by a user, by limiting the number of times that a CAPTCHA gets displayed to the user. This analyzes browser behavior of the user and his engagement with the CAPTCHA to either present a difficult CAPTCHA if the system detects a bot or else display a simple checkbox to be ticked.

BotDetect CAPTCHA
BotDetect is a traditional CAPTCHA code with different kinds of letter and number sequence images. It offers a number of different languages and CMSes on its site, such as PHP, ASP, Java, and WordPress.

Image CAPTCHA
The image CAPTCHA presents a set of images to the user for identification.  For example, the user is asked to pick the odd one out or select all images in the same class.

Put It To Use

Code snippets are given by the service provider for whichever CAPTCHA you decide to use on your website. You can drop the code snippets on those forms where the CAPTCHA window is supposed to appear. Spam is an annoying problem for all websites and CAPTCHA forms along with other popular spam blocking plugins can help in eliminating the spam mongers. Go ahead and CAPTCHA the spam bot battlefield!