I'm sure you've seen them before - those sometimes annoying little puzzles and strings of hard-to-read text you have to solve in order to access certain web pages.
These things are called CAPTCHAs, an acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing Test, and they are designed to help computers tell the difference between robots and humans online.
With CAPTCHAs, sites can do things like prevent spam posts, get accurate poll results, and protect users' registrations.
Google, of course, has been on top of CAPTCHA systems, releasing the new CAPTCHA standard in 2014 called reCAPTCHA. It's been the go-to security feature for major websites for years now, but, like any code on the Internet ... it can be cracked.
Security researchers at Columbia University have discovered flaws in Google’s reCAPTCHA technology that would allow hackers bypassed access to certain systems that could be used in large scale attacks. And here's the kicker - it also uses Google's own reverse image search to solve the puzzles.
To prove the point, researchers were able to perform an attack that solved more than 70% of Google's reCAPTCHA questions. To make matters worse, it wasn't much better for Facebook - the attack was able to solve 83% of those CATCHAs.
It should come as no surprise that hackers are making money off of the scheme. Experts believe hackers could be selling their services for as little as $2 for 1000 solved puzzles, which could equal out to more than $100 a day.