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Researchers Dare AI Experts to Crack New Gotcha Password Scheme

By Network World

November 8, 2013

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Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers have developed Generating panOptic Turing Tests to Tell Computers and Humans Apart (GOTCHA), a password system based on visual cues that typically only a human can decipher. GOTCHA is designed to prevent hackers from using passwords stolen from websites or other sources to gain illegal access to computers.

"To create a GOTCHA, a user chooses a password and a computer, then generates several random, multi-colored inkblots," according to the CMU researchers. The user then describes each inkblot with a text phrase, which is stored in a random order along with the conventional password. "When the user returns to the site and signs in with the password, the inkblots are displayed again along with the list of descriptive phrases; the user then matches each phrase with the appropriate inkblot," the researchers say. They believe that most people can match phrases with inkblots if they are allowed to choose from those on a list, while computers cannot, and they have challenged other researchers to use artificial intelligence to break their system.

The research was presented this week in "GOTCHA Password Hackers!" at ACM's Workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Security in Berlin.

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