How to Stop Spam Bots on Website with CAPTCHA Solutions

Over the years, there have been various approaches used by website owners to protect their businesses from threats. The sophistication of these threats has been on the rise with the technology advancements. One such threat that has threatened online businesses has been bots and botnets. We have adopted various methods to stop these malicious bots from attacking online infrastructure and web servers. Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHA) is one such method. This method was easy to differentiate bots and humans through a simple test like solving a math test, entering a word, or even telling the color that a word is in. CAPTCHA has helped prevent bots from accessing web pages and filling in forms. However, according to cybersecurity experts, CAPTCHA solutions are no longer the most effective method to combat bot attacks and spamming. Below are the arguments to support this opinion; if you should still implement CAPTCHA and other techniques, you can stop bots.

How to Stop Spam Bots on Website with CAPTCHA

Are CAPTCHA Solutions the Best Anti-Bot Solution for Websites?

Most internet users have experience with CAPTCHA solutions and the idea behind them. CAPTCHA tests are simple for humans but complex for bots/ computers to solve. Initially, the CAPTCHA solutions were simple. I asked a user to read some hidden or jumbled text and type the answer into a box. Today CAPTCHAs have developed considerably. Google has been at the forefront to promote this method of preventing bots and spammers; they gained re CAPTCHA in 2009 and have made significant improvements.

What are the Issues of CAPTCHA Solutions?

Because bad bots could not solve the CAPTCHA test between 2000 and 2009, the use of the CAPTCHA solution was effective at stopping them. Therefore, to submit a form, register an account, confirm an online purchase, comment on a blog or conduct other online activities, you had to fill a CAPTCHA test to verify if you were a human. However, CAPTCHA is not as effective today, therefore not considered the ideal option for bot prevention. We attribute this to the following main issues:

1. They Ruin the User Experience

A CAPTCHA’s basic rule is to have tests that are as easy as possible for a human and that the user experience is positive while it is hard for bots to solve. Because of advancements in artificial intelligence, pattern recognition, and machine learning, it has become challenging to prevent bots from solving the CAPTCHA test. It is because they are nowadays intelligent and can solve the test with ease.

No matter how simple CAPTCHA is, it will slow down a legit user from doing their desired task: conducting an online search, surfing a website, making an online purchase, or submitting a form. This is a natural weakness of CAPTCHA solutions. CAPTCHA solutions have also to consider legitimate users who have accessibility challenges and other forms of impairments. When faced with a CAPTCHA test, 15% of the users leave the web service.

2. The Efficiency of a CAPTCHA Solution

Bot designers, developers, and operators are among the most talented and creative people. As technology advances, they have been getting smarter. The intelligence of a malicious bot has also increased. With the help of Machine learning and artificial intelligence, bots can solve any CAPTCHA, including Google’s reCAPTCHA. CAPTCHA tests have to be more challenging to ensure they efficiently prevent and block malicious bots. It has the drawback of ruining the user experience and may drive away customers from a website.

3. Does Your Website Need a CAPTCHA Solution?

Because a CAPTCHA solution will impair a user experience, you need to answer the above question before implementing it. There are different reliable and affordable CAPTCHA solutions that you can implement. However, the most reliable CAPTCHA solution is Google’s reCAPTCHA. The following questions can give you an insight into whether to implement a CAPTCHA solution.

1. Do you get a lot of spam traffic?

2. Does your site allow submissions and postings?

3. Are there any payments and transaction processing on your website?

4. What amount of traffic does your website get daily?

If user verifications are required on your website, and the answer to the above questions is in the affirmative, you need to implement a CAPTCHA on your web service. Does your website publish only static content? Because there isn’t much user-generated content, your site doesn’t need a CAPTCHA but may need other forms of bot protection.

How to Stop Spam Bots on Website without a CAPTCHA?

Having seen that CAPTCHAs are no longer the best solution to block malicious bots and prevent spamming, what alternatives, if any?

They have developed various approaches for replacing CAPTCHA. Below are some of them:

1. Detection by Measuring Time

Bots work faster than human beings. Therefore, if you measure the time a user takes to complete a task, a bot will be several times faster than a human being, making it easy to differentiate the two. The drawback is that bots can also use a low and slow mechanism, making it hard for this method to detect and prevent them.

2. Second and Third Versions of reCAPTCHA

After acquiring reCAPTCHA in 2009, Google released the second and third versions of the system. They increase efficiency and enhance the user experience. V2 and V3 of reCAPTCHA are designed to make them more challenging and sophisticated for bots to bypass them. They ensure human users can easily and swiftly solve them. reCAPTCHA is divided into reCAPTCHA v2, reCAPTCHA v3, reCAPTCHA v2 invisible, and v2 for the android library.

3. Anti-Spam Honeypots

Anti-spam honeypots in cybersecurity refer to deliberate traps set to lure computer programs and bots to reveal who they are. You can accomplish this by adding a hidden field within the form. Since bots are clicking and filling every field, they will see this form and fill it. Filtering out the form submissions, you can identify the users who submitted the form with a hidden field. Anti-spam and anti-bot techniques can be used in different ways, but the goal remains to lure the malicious bots with an attractive item as per their purposes and expose their identity.

4. Securimage

This is the oldest CAPTCHA solution available. It is effective to date and can generate complex challenges that a bot cannot solve but cannot affect the user experience. The limitation of this solution is that it will only work in environments that have PHP.

5. Using an Anti-Bot Management Service

This is an alternative to CAPTCHA that is both efficient and effective. By automatically and in real-time detecting and managing bots, you effectively keep them away. Such bot managers use advanced techniques like AI and Machine to prevent bot activity in real-time without affecting user experience.

Conclusion:

Although CAPTCHA solutions aren’t regarded as an ideal way of dealing with bots, a few alternatives are worth considering. The persistence, sophistication, and intelligence of bots nowadays have rendered CAPTCHAs ineffective. However, to improve your website’s security and prevent cybersecurity threats caused by malicious bots, invest in a reputable bot management solution to replace CAPTCHA.

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TechGlobeX: How to Stop Spam Bots on Website with CAPTCHA Solutions
How to Stop Spam Bots on Website with CAPTCHA Solutions
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