Paid Advertising
web application security lab

Cyborg CAPTCHA Breaking

I normally steer very clear from articles like this, but I was totally fascinated when I heard this. Both rat neurons and human neurons were used to steer a robotic car. They did so completely without computer or human intervention. They literally “thought” about what they wanted to do to complete a task. Interesting take on a Cyborg - don’t start with a human and tear it down and replace it’s extremities with mechanical parts, start with a machine and introduce a blank slate of a human brain tissue. Now, that’s amazing in it’s own right. But where are the applications for us in security? The first thing I thought of was a super advanced system for anomaly detection, but honestly, computers are far better at processing large data sets than people are. Plus brain-masses (for lack of a better term) lack knowledge and experience, so it would take years for them to even understand what they were looking at, let alone be better than a true human analyst. However, there is one thing that struck me as something that people mostly would agree humans should be better at than computers - CAPTCHA breaking.

Image analysis in general - yes, it’s possible, but CAPTCHAs should be easy. Just like a child, you’d have to teach it the alphabet, colors, lines, shapes, and all the basics. Then you’ve have to give it a reward system so it wouldn’t fatigue (read the Terminal Man if you want to see why that part is potentially dangerously problematic). But assuming you can get all that done, there is no reason a human brain-mass shouldn’t be able to solve CAPTCHAs just like a human would. You wouldn’t need a head on it, or really anything else. You could have multi-core human brain-mass computers all shoved into a rack. Just need a way to feed them and you’ve got yourself the most effective human analog CAPTCHA breaking system ever built. Scary and morbid, but extremely effective against all fluctuations in CAPTCHA design, assuming they were taught the parameters.

So what is exactly the definition of a CAPTCHA? I’ve harped on this before. But let’s think about it. What exactly is the measure of a human? Is it cognitive abilities? Then are mentally retarded people no longer considered people? Is it a physical body part? Then are people who have had limbs removed no longer human? What exactly are we trying to measure with a CAPTCHA if indeed the truest definition of such a thing could exist? I think what we are attempting to ascertain most of the time is intent. And with a human brain-mass anti-CAPTCHA system, that would no longer be something we could do. The only thing what we currently think of as CAPTCHAs would still be effective at is increasing the cost of spam. Of course this is all science fiction and riddled with problems, not the least of which is expense. But there are unfathomable military applications for such things, where expense is no longer an obstacle. Skynet may be coming, but it might not be a computer - it might be human brain-mass. Scary.

11 Responses to “Cyborg CAPTCHA Breaking”

  1. CrazyDave Says:

    Another thing about CAPTCA is that you trying to have a lower “inteligence” (for lack of a better word) differentiate between another lower “inteligence” and a higher “inteligence. This is illogical in its base theory when you look at it from this point of view.

  2. Rafal Los Says:

    …….. I say this with all the love and respect I have for you… You seriously creep me the F out, no seriously! In a goof way I guess. But seriously, less coffee more sleep?

  3. mckt Says:

    I think by “Brain-mass” you mean “Neural Net”.

  4. mckt Says:

    Scratch that… I read the article. Less wine, more reading.

  5. id Says:

    Mmmm RAIB…redundant array of inexpensive brains…

  6. Hannibal Says:

    I think you seriously overdid this one :) With all do respect but this is a load of crap :) CAPTCHA is not THAT important :) And also there are scripts that can break does better then a human mind reads them :D And what is a human measured by? You got there from CAPTCHAs? :D Nice :D Al though i do see the advantages of human brain tissue computers i don’t think that they would be used to break captcha on 24/7 :D But please correct me if i’m wrong. :)

  7. RSnake Says:

    @Hannibal - I agree, it’s a big leap. I was using an example of how CAPTCHAs are totally flawed even if you follow it to the ludicrous extremes. But if you go to the next step and talk about pattern recognition and true AI this is less science fiction and more just a matter of time.

  8. Hannibal Says:

    I agree! And i have a perverted love for AI for some reasone… Wonder why.

  9. calandale Says:

    I’m less impressed with doing this with the inherently slower biological solution (look at the training time a human takes :P) to using a purely electronic one. Image recognition using ANN’s and other pure software solutions is advanced enough that CAPTCHA technology is becoming too cumbersome for ME (and other humans) to actually cope with. When combined with other security enhancements (such as complex password requirements) I’ve been turned away from sites for which I could easily write software which could automate entrance.

    The whole model of trying to restrict users by making things difficult to do is collapsing on itself. I have to use the ‘forgotten password’ functionality with every single transaction I make with a particular banking institution.

    The only solutions are very ugly though - like centralized authentication schemes among many major players (microsoft passport anyone?) which terrify me as to their intrusive capability.

  10. Carter Cole Says:

    heres an article i did on breaking simple image captchas id love yalls thoughts

  11. austin Says:

    i think i work for one of those….