In an age where spammers choose to promote themselves by harassing others, many bloggers, social networks, etc. have resorted to using CAPTHA’s as an inexpensive way to keep fake machine comments/user names/purchases from flooding their world.
Unfortunately it seems that the days of funny letters (and numbers) may be coming to an end, as it seems that a company has created software capable of “reading” those funky image phrases.
But before we begin to explain how much of an impact this will make upon the blogosphere, we need to address the background story–starting with Hannah Montana.
For those of you who either do not have little girls, do not watch kid shows or have better things to do in life, Hannah Montana is a TV show from Disney which is about a rock star girl trying to live both a normal life as well as a superstar.
The show seems to be really popular among little girls (at least in the US) who usually want to go see her live in concert (for the music that is). Hannah Montana’s concerts were becoming so popular that tickets to were selling out within minutes, which is not that unusual in the digital age that we live in.
Unfortunately it was discovered earlier this month that people were not buying up the tickets, but rather robots instead. But what makes this case really interesting is the fact that despite the ticket sites having CAPTCHA’s (or word verification), the bots were able to bypass the security measure to the horror of Montana fans everywhere.
(Wall Street Journal) The Internet era has brought speed and convenience to all sorts of consumer transactions. For concertgoers, [sic] however, it has also led to ever-faster sellouts for hot events. Ticketmaster deploys technology that is supposed to stop brokers from gaining access to large numbers of seats via online sales. But it says brokers’ software circumvents the company’s protections. [...]
For instance, companies like Ticketmaster require customers searching for tickets online to replicate a set of the squiggly letters and numbers, known as a “Captcha.” Theoretically, only human customers can correctly identify the characters despite the odd fonts, screening out automated purchasing programs. But RMG’s software, according to Mr. Kovach, can also “figure out the randomly generated characters and retype them automatically.” Mr. Kovach said RMG employees also gave him advice on fooling Ticketmaster’s computers into thinking his requests were coming from different Internet addresses. Neither Mr. Kovach nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.
About a week ago a judge ruled against RMG Technologies, ordering them not to distribute the software. Although this is a victory for all those who hate comment spam, this is temporarily at best.
It’s only a matter of time before another company creates something similar, and bloggers will once again find their posts filled with comments from businesses promoting “love” between animals and people.
Hopefully WordPress, Blogger and SixApart will find ways to thwart these losers early on, as the last thing many bloggers would enjoy doing is having to once again actively monitor the comment section.