Google updates reCAPTCHA to detect bad traffic without annoying users with challenges

Google's reCAPTCHA technology has been a great tool for webmasters to ward off bots on their sites, but often at the expense of user experience. The search giant is trying to address that by announcing an update to its verification tool that will now assign only a risk score to site visitors without requiring their interaction.

That means with the updated reCAPTCHA (version 3), site users no longer need to squint at distorted text or click on streams of storefront or traffic light images for almost an eternity in order to prove that they're not a robot. In the latest version of the technology, an adaptive risk analysis runs in the background to examine user behavior for irregular activities across different pages on a website.

It does this with a new tag system called Action, which can be added to the web pages for protection so that webmasters will be able to see which specific portions of their site are receiving suspicious traffic. With action tags, webmasters can require site visitors to undergo two-factor authentication or phone verification for identity validation in relation to calculated risk scores. Visitors will be assigned these scores based on their behavior on the site, with zero being the lowest (bad) and one the highest (good). This will let site admins take custom actions on users based on risk score.

Additionally, risk scores can be used in conjunction with a site's internal signals such as user profiles or transaction histories. Site admins can also train their machine learning model to fight off bots by using the reCAPTCHA score as one of the signals. With webmasters now able to control how their websites react to bad traffic, the latest reCAPTCHA ​version is expected to improve the overall user experience.

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