Google launches invisible spam barrier

March 10, 2017 by

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Google invisible reCAPTCHA

“CAPTCHAs” are programs designed to protect websites from being hammered by spam bots and abusive scripts, slowing them down and detrimentally impacting website performance for legitimate visitors (humans).

Until three years ago, CAPTCHAs were cryptic and often difficult to read boxes of distorted text which websites required you to decipher and then retype to prove you’re a real human, like the example below.

CAPTCHA V1

A welcome advance came in 2014 when Google introduced “No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA”, replacing distorted text challenges with a simple “I’m not a robot” checkbox for validating users.

reCAPTCHA V2

With a single click, website visitors could verify they were humans and not bots.  This was a big improvement over the fuzzy text in a box that frustrated and infuriated real humans, especially on mobile devices.

While this was a big improvement, these CAPTCHAs can still be somewhat intrusive and impede user engagement on websites.

The good news is that Google has continued to work on improving their reCAPTCHA technology and this week released its new Invisible reCAPTCHA.

Invisible reCAPTCHA now means users no longer see the “I’m not a robot” checkbox or have to click anything to prove they are humans. Invisible reCAPTCHA automatically validates users in the background when a user clicks on an existing button on the site. It can also be called through a JavaScript API. A CAPTCHA challenge puzzle that only gets shown if traffic is determined as being suspicious.

The end result is that visitors seamlessly pass a security check without even knowing it. This is especially important on mobile websites where, until now, reCAPTCHAs have interrupted user flow by taking up precious screen real estate on check-out and sign-up pages.

Why should you care?

reCAPTCHA is a free service from Google that protects your website from spam and abuse. Register your site here and get the code which is straightforward to implement.

If you have a WordPress site it’s even easier using a free plugin. Invisible reCaptcha for WordPress has options to enable protection on the WordPress login, registration, comments, and forgot password forms. It’s also compatible with WooCommerce.

Finally, in the unlikely event it ever comes up as a question in Trivial Pursuit or a pub quiz, CAPTCHA is an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”.

Now you know… 😉

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