CAPTCHAShort for completely automated public turing test to tell computers and humans apart, a technique used by a computer to tell if it is interacting with a human or another computer. Because computing is becoming pervasive, and computerized tasks and services are commonplace, the need for increased levels of security has led to the development of this way for computers to ensure that they are dealing with humans in situations where human interaction is essential to security. Activities such as online commerce transactions, search engine submissions, Web polls, Web registrations, free e-mail service registration and other automated services are subject to software programs, or bots, that mimic the behavior of humans in order to skew the results of the automated task or perform malicious activities, such as gathering e-mail addresses for spamming or ordering hundreds of tickets to a concert.
In order to validate the digital transaction, using the CAPTCHA system the user is presented with a distorted word typically placed on top of a distorted background. The user must type the word into a field in order to complete the process. Computers have a difficult time decoding the distorted words while humans can easily decipher the text. Some CAPTCHAs now use pictures instead of words where the user is presented with a series of pictures and asked what is the common element among all of the pictures. By entering that common element, the user validates the transaction and the computer knows it is dealing with a human and not a bot.
The word public in the term refers to the fact that the algorithm used is made public instead of being held secret. The idea is that breaking the scurity of a CAPTCHA depends on artifical intelligence; discovering the algorithm itself does not defeat the security measures. The term was coined by Luis von Ahn, Manuel Blum and Nicholas J. Hopper of Carnegie Mellon University, and John Langford of IBM in 2000.
- Watch Datamation's editor James Maguire moderate roundtable discussions with tech experts from companies such as Accenture, Dell, Blue Jeans Network, Microsoft and more »
The future remains, well, cloudy. But either way: Amazon, look out. Microsoft is gaining fast. Read More »Hype Versus Action in the Developer's World
Often times technologies start as hype but with time become adopted. As a developer or technologist, it is worth reading the hype and knowing the... Read More »Microsoft Hyper-V Network Virtualization Q&A
The top 5 Hyper-V questions with answers provided by Nirmal Sharma, a MCSEx3, MCITP and Microsoft MVP in Directory Services. Read More »
Webopedia Polls: Is iPhone 6 or iWatch on your list? Read More »How to Create a Desktop Shortcut to a Website
This Webopedia guide will show you how to create a desktop shortcut to a website using Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer (IE). Read More »Flash Data Storage Vendor Trends
Although it is almost impossible to keep up with the pace of ongoing product releases, here are three recent highlights in the flash data storage... Read More »