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Google’s new Street View image algorithm can crack most CAPTCHAs


Although most human eyes struggle to see them clearly, Google has developed a software that can crack most CAPTCHAs. In a paper published earlier this week, Google researchers from its Street View and CAPTCHA teams discuss a new algorithm capable of solving the company’s jumbled text security puzzles with an accuracy rate of 99.8 percent.

Not intended for evil deeds, this software was designed to help the company sort out hard to read street signs and house numbers photographed by its Street View cameras. This new tool expedites the process of sorting and matching images with their correct locations. While the software has an almost perfect track record with CAPTCHAs, Street View images are a little more challenging. The system was only able to identify text around 90 percent of the time, however, its accuracy increased to over 96 percent when attempting to recognize complete street numbers.

If you’re worried about someone else emulating this software to bypass CAPTCHAs to gain accessed to privileged information, Google says it’s building a better mouse trap.

“Thanks to this research, we know that relying on distorted text alone isn’t enough,” Vinay Shet, reCAPTCHA’s product manager wrote in a blog post. “However, it’s important to note that simply identifying the text in CAPTCHA puzzles correctly doesn’t mean that reCAPTCHA itself is broken or ineffective. On the contrary, these findings have helped us build additional safeguards against bad actors in reCAPTCHA.”

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