After 25 years, CAPTCHAs are still quite popular, with some of the largest online companies in the world using them. In fact, 36% of the Internet’s top 10,000 sites have a CAPTCHA.
Since CAPTCHAs were originally invented as a way for companies to differentiate between humans and bots, most bot detection technology relies on CAPTCHAs or visual challenges in some way.
Ironically, bots and AI can now solve all types of CAPTCHAs (including Google reCAPTCHA and hCAPTCHA) more easily and faster than humans can. The term “solve” here essentially means hack.
Attackers don’t just bypass CAPTCHAs because they are a nuisance. When they use automation to commit fraud, bypassing CAPTCHAs at scale becomes a necessary evil. Bad actors will evade CAPTCHAs to launch cyber attacks with bots that appear human, creating fake accounts at scale and conducting toll fraud, which can cost brands millions of dollars that cut into their profit margins.
Before we talk about CAPTCHA Alternatives, let’s take a step back to discuss how CAPTCHAs got their start.
The History of CAPTCHAs
When Google acquired reCAPTCHA in 2009, reCAPTCHA’s founder Luis von Ahn (fun fact: he’s also the founder of Duolingo) said, “I’m certain it will happen at some point that computers are as good at this as humans.” At the time, he predicted that humans could probably beat the machines for another 10 years. “At that point, we’ll have to figure something else out.”
Turns out, his prediction was spot on. We’ve reached the point where bots are definitively better at solving CAPTCHAs than humans.
Here’s a timeline overview of the history of CAPTCHAs:
Vendors have announced that they’ve “killed the CAPTCHA,” or tout a “CAPTCHA alternative,” but in reality, they are just different forms of a CAPTCHA that can still be bypassed. In some cases, they provide an even worse end-user experience than traditional CAPTCHAs.
CAPTCHAs are more useless than they’ve ever been.
Now any iPhone user can bypass CAPTCHAs from the settings on their device.
Threat actors use the latest AI advancements to successfully solve CAPTCHAs on enterprise sites.
Some CAPTCHAs, like hCAPTCHA, use AI to generate their CAPTCHAs, but they are still insecure and even more frustrating to end users.
Advanced AI Tools Bypass CAPTCHAs
CAPTCHAs – even reCAPTCHA Enterprise – are bypassed not only by human farms but by bots and AI. With the incorporation of AI tools, the success rate is anywhere from 95% to 100%.
You may have heard about ChatGPT lying about its ability to help a human solve a CAPTCHA. However, there are now inexpensive, yet powerful, AI CAPTCHA-solving services, such as CapSolver, that are easy to find and use. This makes them a popular choice for attackers to leverage at scale.
These AI tools can solve CAPTCHAs up to 6 times faster than humans. The average time it takes an AI solver to defeat a CAPTCHA is just 5 seconds, compared to the average 32 seconds it takes a human. This means cybercriminals can automate attacks much faster and more efficiently than ever before.
Benefits of a Frictionless and Secure CAPTCHA Alternative
A new approach to bot detection and mitigation completely eliminates the need for CAPTCHAs.
Here are five benefits of a solution that uses an invisible challenge that is a true alternative to using a CAPTCHA:
- Improved user experience: CAPTCHAs can be frustrating and time-consuming for users. Forrester found that 19% of adults in the US have abandoned a site because it served up a CAPTCHA. Anti-bot solutions that do not use CAPTCHAs can provide a smoother and more user-friendly experience for website visitors.
- Increased security: CAPTCHAs can be bypassed by advanced bots and AI, making them less effective at preventing fraud and spam. Anti-bot solutions that use dynamic client-side detection and server-side machine learning techniques can provide a higher level of security and detect sophisticated bots that legacy solutions can’t.
- Reduced false positives: CAPTCHAs can misclassify legitimate users as bots, resulting in false positives and harming the user experience. Anti-bot solutions that use a zero-trust approach and do not rely on CAPTCHAs can reduce false positives and provide more accurate detection.
- Lower costs: It can be expensive to implement and maintain CAPTCHAs, especially for high-traffic websites and mobile apps. Anti-bot solutions that do not use CAPTCHAs can be more cost-effective and easier to implement, reducing the burden on website owners and operators.
- Increased compliance and accessibility: Some countries have regulations that require websites to provide accessible user interfaces for those with visual impairments or other disabilities, which can be difficult to achieve with CAPTCHAs. Anti-bot solutions that do not use CAPTCHAs can help website owners comply with these regulations and avoid legal issues.
We believe that in 2023, end-users shouldn’t need to prove they are human. This CAPTCHA-less technology which does not put the onus on any of your customers is what every online business should be implementing.
Kasada’s bot defense is purpose-built to effectively detect and stop automated threats, bot attacks, and online fraud without the friction of solutions that use a CAPTCHA.
Our customers find this no-CAPTCHA approach enhances the overall customer experience and brand perception. It reduces abandonment, increases conversion rates, and improves customer loyalty.
“For us, it’s absolutely critical to not have any visible customer flow interventions, be it things like reCAPTCHAs or challenge pages, or anything like that. Customers literally would abandon a registration process purely just because they have one extra step or five seconds to wait for a challenge page to disappear.” – Global Head of Engineering, PointsBet
While competitive solutions promise “zero friction,” their technologies still rely on a CAPTCHA. Your provider may say that CAPTCHAs are served up less often, but if you talk to your end-users, you will hear that they are frustrated with the increasingly difficult-to-solve CAPTCHAs. For example, this CAPTCHA is from a vendor who claims “legitimate users often experience no friction at all.”
Other vendors who use a CAPTCHA will say that they provide the CAPTCHA solver’s IP address, which can then be matched against the IP address that triggered the CAPTCHA challenge as an effective way to thwart CAPTCHA-solving services, but that doesn’t address the problem with new AI CAPTCHA solvers or clever adversaries that know how to disguise their IP address through residential proxy networks.
How Kasada’s CAPTCHA-less Approach Works
What’s needed is an approach that uses dynamic and invisible challenges to detect and stop bots while frustrating and deterring adversaries at each step in the attack lifecycle. Kasada’s bot defense uses various advanced techniques to identify and stop bots before they can access a website, mobile app, or API. This modern approach is more secure and more effective than CAPTCHAs at detecting bots, while being completely invisible to the end user. Kasada does not require the user to do any verification and it uses data integrity checks to avoid data tampering and replay attacks.
- Invisible Proof-of-Work Challenges: Kasada’s patented asymmetric proof-of-work cryptographic challenge makes attacks computationally expensive for adversaries. This countermeasure increases the mathematical challenges, forcing bot operators to allocate more resources until attacking becomes prohibitively costly. By combining this crypto challenge with other invisible detections, Kasada eliminates the need for user-impeding CAPTCHA or visual challenges that can be easily bypassed. Unlike competitors who still rely on CAPTCHAs, Kasada ensures a truly frictionless user experience without compromising security or performance.
- Invisible Client-Side Detections: Kasada is the first to apply a zero-trust philosophy to detecting bad bots, by assuming all requests are guilty until proven innocent. This is based on a patented client-side interrogation process that detects automation in real-time, collecting hidden traces from malicious automation and AI, without impacting genuine users.
- Polymorphic Client-Side Virtual Machine: The Kasada platform is always changing the way it presents its code to adversaries. If in the event an attacker learns how Kasada’s defenses work, Kasada’s dynamic nature will require attackers to start again from scratch. Kasada forces attackers to run their code in real browsers and mobile devices. This makes it nearly impossible to fake the data like adversaries do to bypass other bot detection solutions.
- Server-Side Anomaly Detection: Kasada strengthens client-side defenses with server-side data analytics and machine learning. It analyzes trillions of bot interactions across all customers, assessing data for tampering to enable trustworthy decision-making. Kasada’s server-side data platform quickly detects and mitigates anomalies within milliseconds, effectively reducing the attack window. This outperforms traditional bot detection systems, which are slower and less effective in detecting and responding to automated threats.
- Threat Intelligence: Kasada’s experts complement its automated detection capabilities. Through threat research, they extract valuable information to anticipate and strengthen defenses against future attack methods. Kasada rapidly applies threat intelligence insights, adding new client-side detections across the entire customer base in under 2 minutes without any software upgrades. The team also adds dynamic detections on a regular basis to enhance its effectiveness.
- No Configuration or Management: Kasada integrates seamlessly with any CDN. There are no rules or policies to manage, no risk scores to assign, no challenges to decide upon, and no cybersecurity expertise to dedicate. Kasada is easily extensible across new websites, APIs, and use cases without any additional customization or training required. Competitive solutions use rules, policies, and risk scores which take time and in-house expertise to manage and maintain.
If you’re looking for a more secure and user-friendly CAPTCHA alternative, then you’ve come to the right place. Kasada Bot Defense provides reliable fraud prevention without the need for frustrating and time-consuming CAPTCHAs or visual challenges. Our risk-based approach ensures a seamless user experience while keeping your website and mobile apps secure and high performing.
Request a demo of our no-CAPTCHA solution today to improve your security posture and customer loyalty.