Kittens could save us from spam

Kevin Larson, a researcher at Microsoft, has come up with a unique idea for combating e-mail spam – kittens!

Typically, would-be spammers use free e-mail services like Hotmail and Yahoo mail for sending their spam messages. These mail services attempt to prevent automated signups for new mailboxes by using a protocol referred to as HIPS – Human Interactive Proofs. You've seen them. A box appears containing slightly distorted letters or numbers and you are asked to type what you see. The HIPS were designed to prevent machines from accessing the site, or, in the case of mail services, signing up automatically for mail addresses from which spam messages can be launched.

Recently, the spamming community has begun finding out ways to have their machines recognize the HIPS characters, thus defeating the protection. Companies that use HIPS can make the characters harder to detect, but the spammers continue to rise to the occasion. Enter Mr. Larson.

Speaking at the annual TypeCon conference earlier this month in Seattle, Larson suggested that using photos in place of the HIPS letters and numbers – for example, photos of kittens – might possibly fool the spammers. The process would involve displaying a group of 16 or more photos and asking the user to identify which photos are of a certain type.

You can experiment with a beta service of the technology, called Asirra, on the Microsoft Research web site. Identify the kitten photos correctly and you are notified that you indeed are a human. If you like the images you see, you can click a link that takes you to a pet adoption web site.

"It's possible that kittens are the wave of the future," Larson commented at the convention, an annual event hosted by the Society of Typographic Aficionados.

You may like these other stories...

Regulatory compliance, risk management and cost-cutting are the big heartburn issues for finance execs in the C-suite. Yet financial planning and analysis—a key antacid—is insufficient.That's just one of the...
Continuing its efforts to simplify accounting procedures, the FASB has issued a proposed Accounting Standards Update on customer fees paid in a cloud computing arrangement. The newly-proposed update (Intangibles—...
How are you planning? What tools do you use (or fail to use) for forecasting? PlanGuru is a business budgeting, forecasting, and performance review software company based in White Plains, N.Y. AccountingWEB recently spoke...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Aug 28
Excel spreadsheets are often akin to the American Wild West, where users can input anything they want into any worksheet cell. Excel's Data Validation feature allows you to restrict user inputs to selected choices, but there are many nuances to the feature that often trip users up.
Sep 9
In this session we'll discuss the types of technologies and their uses in a small accounting firm office.
Sep 11
This webcast will include discussions of commonly-applicable Clarified Auditing Standards for audits of non-public, non-governmental entities.
Sep 26
In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards. A dashboard condenses large amounts of data into a compact space, yet enables the end user to easily drill down into details when warranted.