CAPTCHA getting stretched

Evidently I’m not the only person who has found it more and more difficult to suss out what letters the CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) wants me to type.

Bid to kill CAPTCHA security test gains momentum (Canberra Times)

The official web standards body, the World Wide Web Consortium, said there are many CAPTCHA alternatives, including simple maths questions, trivia, the use of sound files and even biometric technology such as fingerprints and retinal scanning. Microsoft have launched a substitute called Asirra (Animal Species Image Recognition for Restricting Access), that asks users to identify photos of cats and dogs instead of letters.

Can respect for privacy be a competitive differentiator?

Though biometrics get quite a lot of attention from people interested in privacy, the real action is in the internet browser and online services. Just remember — If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold*.

The Microsoft “Scroogled” ad campaign against Google is interesting because it indicates that the high-level marketing types at Microsoft believe the public is open to the message that some web services are taking too much information from users compared to the value the users receive in “free” services. Whether respect for privacy is a competitive differentiator among web services remains to be seen, but the fact that Microsoft has spent real time and money on the assumption that it is should not go unnoticed.

Google Privacy Chief Blasts Microsoft’s “Scroogled” Campaign at RSA Conference (CIO)

The bulk of the article linked above is devoted to privacy standards, privacy policy and corporate management. While that’s not nearly as eye-catching as a slug fest between Information Age titans, it is a much more substantial issue and one worth of serious attention.

In a Cloud-Connected IT World, are Biometrics the Answer?

For your eyes only: New twist on Digital ID could keep you from getting hacked (ZDNet)

With so many individuals with multiple accounts on so many linked cloud services, it is inevitable that this sort of cybercrime is going to become more commonplace unless new mechanisms are put into place to prevent this form of compromise that Honan experienced.

One way of dealing with this would be to employ biometrics on all computing devices. I wrote about this at length in February 2011, which eventually led to an appearance on CBC Radio alongside prominent independent security researcher Dr. Markus Jakobsson.