PC stripper helps spam to spread

Monday, March 31st, 2008

PC stripper helps spam to spread — by getting eager guys to decipher Captchas:

The scrambled text systems used to defeat automatic sign-ups are known as Captchas or “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”.

Typically they feature a disfigured word or one overlaid with artefacts that make it difficult for anyone but a human to decipher.

Many computer criminals have been trying to crack these systems to get at the net-based resources, such as e-mail accounts or blogging tools, they are designed to protect.

“The free e-mail services, so far, have been extremely successful at using Captchas to recognise a human being or an automatic program,” said Raimund Genes, chief technology officer at Trend Micro.

The novel system for getting round Captchas uses images of a woman called “melissa” who invites victims to decipher the scrambled text. Entering the correct text produces another image and another chunk of scrambled text.

The weak link in security is almost always human.

(Hat tip to Tom.)

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