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March 16th, 2008

3$ for breaking the CAPTCHA

Google representative claims that breaking Gmail accounts CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart) is extremely hard and hiring people who would register email accounts for spam purposes is much cheaper. During last months its been mentioned numerous times that Windows Live and Gmail email services have been bypassed. Access to Google services also grants spammers email addresses that are not blacklisted, which is another advantage.

Spam analysis in Feb. 2008 by MessageLabs shows that only 4.6% of entire spam traffic are sent using webmail services and the concept of bypassed CAPTCHA during automated mass spam accounts registrations was a hypothesis among the IT specialists.
Brad Taylor, Google senior engineer, claims that underpaid workers in third world countries, not the infected PCs, are being drafted in order to register large amounts of email accounts that are used solely for spam. According to Taylor, there is a chance that some software might be used for automation of this process, yet CAPTCHA technology remains very efficient against mass account registrations by infected zombie computers.
According to Websense, some documents in Russian language prove that workers are being paid the minimum of 3$/day for such assignment.

A brief check (by me) shows there is no need for investigations and secret documents. One of Russian language websites, kolotibablo dot com in particular, offers easy money and here what it says on main page:

“Your new job will be recognizing texts from pictures. It will require english letters knowledge and a normal level ability to type those letters using english keyboard layout. With each properly recognized image you will earn 1 cent and you are only limited by your skills, which means you can process up to 10 pictures in 1 minute. Hence, if you choose to get 0.5 cent per image, you might earn 3 dollars per hour.”

This is just one example, there are many others on the russian online segment and probably even more in other countries, where the internet is common and people are trying to think of easy ways to make money.

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More on CyberInsecure:
  • Koobface Worm Creates A Low-cost, Distributed CAPTCHA Breaking Service
  • Google’s Blogger CAPTCHA Under Automated Registrations Attack
  • High Success Rate Breaking Hotmail CAPTCHAs
  • Spammers Successfully Avoid IP Address-Based Reputation By Using Free E-mail Providers
  • Microsoft’s CAPTCHA Under Spammers Attack Again

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