Snapchat’s Account Registration CAPTCHA System Hacked

30 minutes and less than 100 lines of code was all it took to find the ghost

By on January 23rd, 2014 14:24 GMT

Snapchat has been having a lot of security-related problems lately. After someone leaked the details of 4.6 million customers, now experts have managed to hack the newly introduced CAPTCHA system.

The system is designed to prevent bots from registering accounts. Users are presented with nine images and they have to select those that contain the Snapchat ghost.

However, shortly after Snapchat announced the new security feature, a man named Steve Hickson managed to write a piece of code that can automatically solve the puzzle. It took him around 30 minutes to develop a program that has less than 100 lines.

“With very little effort, my code was able to ‘find the ghost’ in the above example with 100% accuracy. I'm not saying it is perfect, far from it. I'm just saying that if it takes someone less than an hour to train a computer to break an example of your human verification system, you are doing something wrong,” Hickson explained.

“There are a ton of ways to do this using computer vision, all of them quick and effective. It's a numbers game with computers and Snapchat's verification system is losing.”

Hickson is not the only one who cracked the CAPTCHA. 16-year-old Graham Smith, who has identified a number of Snapchat security issues over the past period, says he has also written a script for solving the puzzle.

After the recent data leak, Snapchat has promised to focus more on security. However, it remains to be seen if the company can keep its promise. Smith believes that the company has to improve the way it works with outsiders.

The expert has told TechCrunch that “Snapchat is doomed forever as far as security” if it doesn't take some measures.

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