Search engine giant Google will make the process of proving that you’re a human a little less annoying with a new version of its reCAPTCHA technology.
The new technology will be completely invisible to the end user, allowing Web sites to verify that someone is not a robot without forcing them to try to decipher distorted images of text, or puzzles, according to Google.
Marketing the new version of the reCAPTCHA service as “tough on bots, easy on humans,” the company isn’t offering up any details on how exactly the security system works. All that Google will say is that the update relies on machine learning and advanced risk analysis to make informed decisions about who’s human and who’s a bot.
The reCAPTCHA system is a security safeguard used by Web sites to weed out malicious bots from human users. The platform was acquired by Google in 2009, and is now the most widely used provider of CAPTCHA verification technology in the world, according to Google.
CAPTCHA involves asking users to perform a series of visual-perception tasks, such as reading distorted text, to prove they’re real. But the procedure can prove frustrating for users, such as when they appear in the middle of financial transactions, or if users are visually impaired.
Google said the latest version of the technology is an improvement over previous versions of the verification system, in which users had to verify they were not bots by clicking on checkboxes. Now, however, reCAPTCHA will only subject users exhibiting suspicious activity to additional security challenges.
Google’s new system tracks how a person interacts with a website to prove they are real, so the puzzles are no longer necessary for most people.
Captcha checks are often deployed by concert ticket websites to stop people setting up automated bots to buy all the best tickets. They also appear when somebody is trying to log in to a website with the wrong password, to spot automated attempts.
“Since the launch of No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA, millions of Internet users have been able to attest they are human with just a single click,” the company wrote on the reCAPTCHA Web site. “Now we’re taking it a step further and making it invisible. Human users will be let through without seeing the ‘I’m not a robot’ checkbox, while suspicious ones and bots still have to solve the challenges.”
According to Google, the system uses a broad range of cues to distinguish humans from bots, although the company didn’t say what sort of behavior it considered suspicious. Potentially, anyone using a Tor browser or VPN to access Web sites could be interpreted as suspicious.
But Google said thanks to Invisible reCAPTCHA, a “significant portion” of valid human users will now be verified without ever having to perform any of the usual verification tasks. If it works as advertised, the new widget should prove a huge relief to users tired of having to identify storefronts in blurry images.