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Researchers from the University of Delaware have concluded that when it comes to authentication for logins, Memes may be one of the strongest techniques to distinguish between a human and a bot.

The Bot Challenge

One of the great challenges to websites when it comes to authentication for logins is that software bots can fool relatively simple tests such as ticking a box to say, ‘I’m not a robot’ and CAPTCHA (both words and images). Also, neural networks and machine learning have helped to train bots to behave more like humans.  With more than half of web traffic believed to be made of bots and to stop bots gaining easy access to sensitive data, correct authentication needs to be based upon a system that can effectively tell humans and bots apart.

Memes Could Be The Answer

According to the University of Delaware researchers, the dynamic nature of memes and the fact that bots don’t get cultural references and online humour, and that humans are familiar with and can understand memes with a greater depth than bots could mean that memes could be the answer to the ‘bot or human’ authentication challenge.

Memes are activities, concepts, catchphrases, or pieces of media, often humorous and/or mimicking, and commonly in the form of an image, gif or video that have cultural meaning and tend to be shared widely on social media platforms.

How Could Memes Work For Authentication?

According to the researchers, after the correct username and password have been verified on login to a website, a meme could be displayed with a question about the meme that relates to something that bots wouldn’t be able to spot.  For example, this question could relate to the facial expression of the person in the meme or to the action taking place in the meme (bots wouldn’t be able to accurately tell what the facial expression is or what it means in relation to that meme). Several possible answers relating to that meme could be given and clicking on the right option will mean that a person is granted entry to the website.

The fact that there is a vast number of memes available online means that the meme and its answer options used for one authentication process can then be deleted from the database to ensure that no answers are stored and learned by bots.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

With more than half of web traffic being made up of bots, and with bots being able to fool many existing systems and with the data security, privacy and fraud risks that bots pose, businesses need to know that their websites have an effective system that can accurately distinguish between humans and bots at the login stage, but not make the process of authentication too complicated or lengthy for registered users.

The cultural references, humour, and subtleties in memes could, therefore, make them an effective way to make that distinction, and could keep businesses ahead of the game until AI/machine learning in bots necessitates another change.