Someone told me about an ingenious way that spammers were cracking "captchas" -- the distorted graphic words that a human being has to key into a box before Yahoo and Hotmail and similar services will give her a free email account. The idea is to require a human being and so prevent spammers from automatically generating millions of free email accounts.
The ingenious crack is to offer a free porn site which requires that you key in the solution to a captcha -- which has been inlined from Yahoo or Hotmail -- before you can gain access. Free porn sites attract lots of users around the clock, and the spammers were able to generate captcha solutions fast enough to create as many throw-away email accounts as they wanted.
Now, chances are that they didn't need to do this, since optical character recognition has been shown to be readily tweakable to decode captchas without human intervention -- that which a computer can generate, a computer can often solve.
My cow-orker Seth Schoen points out that human-generated captchas are much harder to solve: say, picking out a photo of an animal, at a funny angle, in a cage, and challenging attackers to correctly identify it. People can do so readily, machines probably can't.
Except, of course, that getting people to pick out pix of animals at funny angles doesn't scale. Unless, of course, you offered them free porn to do so ("Want free porn? Identify the animal in this cage!").
Which suggests a curious future, where commodity pornography, in great quantities, is used to incent human actors to generate and solve Turing tests like captchas in similarily great quantities.
A judge in Canada today granted $10 million bail for Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of China electronics giant Huawei. She has to remain in the Vancouver area, where she has a home. The United States has requested her extradition. China is not happy. Huawai’s response follows. .
That massive data breach that hit hotel group Marriott? Now there are clues the hackers behind it were working for a Chinese government intelligence gathering operation.
Tumblr will ban ‘female-presenting nipples’ and other content beginning December 17, 2018. Photographer and writer Nate ‘Igor’ Smith is a longtime Tumblr user whose work straddles the boundaries of art, editorial, and adult. Here, Nate explains why Tumblr’s decision to censor is devastating for the Tumblr’s longtime users, and the rest of us. — XJ […]
Everybody’s flown a paper airplane. But what if you could fly on a paper airplane? Until we invent shrink-ray technology, the PowerUp X FPV Video Paper Airplane Kit will have to do – but it’s as fun as that sounds and more. The original version of this creative toy added drone tech to the old, […]
Adobe’s design software catalog is essential to any graphics program, as much for their simplicity as their versatility. Anyone can be an effective graphic designer with tools like Illustrator and InDesign – and the right training in their potential. That’s where the Adobe CC A-Z Lifetime Bundle comes in. Whether you’re getting your feet wet […]
Businesses of any size continue to use PDFs despite – and perhaps because of – their stubborn resistance to simple editing. But for those who need a little flexibility on their documentation, the search is over for alternative software. PDF Expert for Mac is the catch-all solution for wrangling those PDFs, and it’s available at […]