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Google accidentally cracks its own CAPTCHA verification with Maps algorithm

Originally intended to determine the exact location of addresses on Google Maps
Thu Apr 17 2014, 17:15
Google Maps latest update released

GOOGLE HAS ACCIDENTALLY cracked its own CAPTCHA technology while developing a system to read street numbers in Google Street View in order to locate addresses on Google Maps.

"Translating a street address to an exact location on a map is harder than it seems. To take on this challenge and make Google Maps even more useful, we've been working on a new system to help locate addresses even more accurately, using some of the technology from the Street View and reCAPTCHA teams," Google product manager of reCAPTCHA Vinay Shet said in a blog post.

The reCAPTCHA technology finds and reads street numbers in Street View, and correlates those numbers with existing addresses to pinpoint their exact locations on Google Maps. Google described these findings in a scientific paper at the International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR).

"In this paper, we show that this system is able to accurately detect and read difficult numbers in Street View with 90 percent accuracy," Shet added.

Google found that the algorithm can also be used to read CAPTCHA puzzles and it can decipher the hardest distorted text puzzles from reCAPTCHA with over 99 percent accuracy.

"Thanks to this research, we know that relying on distorted text alone isn't enough. 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."

Moving forward from the discovery, Google will improve the technology to not only make Google Maps more precise and useful but also to make reCAPTCHA safer and more effective, Shet said. µ


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