Money Matters - Simplified

Google acquires reCAPTCHA

Hopes to strengthen Web security measures and prevent Web frauds

<strong>New York, September 17 --</strong> Google Inc. on Wednesday officially confirmed on its Web site that it has acquired reCAPTCHA, a company that provides Web-based security systems.

New York, September 17 -- Google Inc. on Wednesday officially confirmed on its Web site that it has acquired reCAPTCHA, a company that provides Web-based security systems.

There is no word from Google Inc. on what price they have purchased the software company.

Wikipedia defines CAPTCHA as an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.” In layman’s terms, reCAPTCHA technology specializes in prevention of web fraud.

The software in itself is not completely hacking-proof, but Google is determined to avoid hacking of any sort in the future. The same can be said about the company’s OCR output system.

What exactly does reCAPTCHA do?
ReCAPTCHA takes passages from old books, news clippings and articles and presents them in a way that can’t be read by optical character recognition (OCP) technology- the very same software hackers are using to decode CAPTCHAs.

This information is then fed to the humans one word at a time with another additional word reCAPTCHA knows. Then the user enters both words to get the desired result. The words are tested and if the reCAPTCHA knows it and if it is correct, it now learns a new word to use for future use.

"In this way, reCAPTCHA's unique technology improves the process that converts scanned images into plain text, known as Optical Character Recognition (OCR)," state Luis von Ahn, cofounder of reCAPTCHA, and Will Cathcart, a Google product manager, in a jointly-written blog post. "This technology also powers large scale text scanning projects like Google Books and Google News Archive Search”.

Readers online not really convinced with reCAPTCHA
There’s quite a buzz on the online forums where readers are discussing reCAPCTHA. They don’t feel convinced that reCAPTCHA will protect them from spam.

One reader, ‘Anonymous freak’, has posted his views on arstechnica.com, “The big problem with spammers is that nowadays they use ultra-cheap labor to have actual people bypass the captchas. Who needs OCR when you can pay $0.01 (or less) for a person to do it?”

Another reader Tenorikuma writes specifically about reCAPTCHA, “Lord I hate ReCaptcha. Last time I was at a site that used it, my input got rejected 5 times before I gave up.”

Then there’s ‘dnom’, who pretty much feels the same. He/she posted on the same forum, “It's gotten to the point where I can't figure them out anymore. All too often there's a 0/O or l/1 that completely ruins me.”

To cut the long story short, readers are not really convinced, but concrete analysis should be made only after using reCAPTCHA technology.