Radical Ghost Captchas Help Snapchat Authenticate Human Users

The friendly photo sharing app Snapchat has fast gathered a massive following, owing to supreme ease of use and great set of features. The app is witnessing an increasing and sustained interest by users for all their social photo sharing needs. As it happens with all popular internet based services, Snapchat has seen its fair share of hackers trying to take advantage of the system by creating fake user accounts. In a recent update, Snapchat has tried to alleviate the problem by introducing a new, intuitive Captcha authentication system. This design is rolled out with a view to prevent fake account creation by account creating robot scripts.

The Snapchat “Find Friends” Service

One of the main reasons behind the popularity of Snapchat is the interesting “Find Friends” service, which allows existing Snapchat users to find other users on the basis of certain specific search criteria. While a number of users enjoy it, the service also had a few security loopholes which made it a potential target for hackers. Very recently, hackers exploited this feature, and as a result, millions of user details and phone numbers were leaked on the internet, thus harming the privacy of the subscribers.

The New Ghost Captcha System

Drawing a lesson from this incident, and heeding reports from various users who have pointed out flaws in the security of the app, Snapchat recently introduced the new Captcha system — Ghost Captcha. This system is designed to genuinely distinguish between real users and robots, and thus prevent the creation of fake accounts which are a powerful tool for hackers.

Unlike most Captchas where the user needs to read and input words and numbers from a picture, the Ghost Captcha system uses simple human comprehension to verify new accounts. A number of images are displayed in a grid format, in which some of the images contain the form of a ghost in white, and a new user is required to select only those images in which this form in present. This is an intuitive and fun way of verifying new accounts, and it might prove to be useful in the long run to prevent hackers from creating fake accounts.

The Road Ahead

According to users, although this might not be a comprehensive solution for the security problems seen recently with Snapchat, it is indeed a positive step forward that might successfully deter hackers from running exploits that leak sensitive user information. Snapchat users have been active in finding and making known the various possible security issues with the app, and the announcement of this new Captcha system marks the first step taken by the developers to address these issues.

Keeping in mind that Snapchat is a service that has seen a meteoric rise in popularity in a surprisingly small span of time, it is expected that the developers will also address the other issues quickly to give users a safe and satisfying app experience. With the new Ghost Captcha system, millions of Snapchat users around the world can surely hope for the best when using Snapchat.

Originally published at: MobDevApp

Like what you read? Give Satinder S. Panesar a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.