Are you tired of the increasingly convoluted steps that it takes to simply prove you're not a robot?

It's not just you. CAPTCHA has long been a staple of website security, helping to reduce malicious activity and keep websites secure. However, this technology is not without its shortcomings, and there are many instances where two-factor authentication (2FA) might be a more user-friendly alternative.


First of all, let's take a second to explore what CAPTCHA is, how it has evolved over the years and some potential future uses for the technology.

A Quick Definition Of CAPTCHA

This acronym stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart." The tests are named after Alan Turing, and they're designed to stop bots in their tracks, clearing the way for legitimate human activity on a variety of websites. If you've ever been asked to type out warped alphanumeric text and special characters, or if you've been directed to click all the squares with bicycles, you've completed a CAPTCHA test.

Google's reCAPTCHA is an example of a popular version of this technology. More recent releases provide a frictionless experience that doesn't require user interaction, but taking part in CAPTCHA tests is still a common occurrence for many people.

CAPTCHA's Shortcomings

While the security afforded by these challenges helps improve the user experience in some ways, CAPTCHAs can also be quite frustrating. In fact, based on internal data, Cloudflare recently claimed that it takes humans about 32 seconds to answer a CAPTCHA. That might not seem like a lot, but keep in mind that as bots get smarter, CAPTCHAs become more complicated. Consequently, they become more difficult for human users, introducing friction and, frankly, leading to annoyance.

Cloudflare also pointed out that many CAPTCHA tests assume the user has certain abilities or cultural familiarities that may not be universally shared. Not to mention, for mobile users, some common CAPTCHAs are often difficult to solve and can run through energy and data quickly.

How CAPTCHA Compares To 2FA

For a select set of circumstances, two-factor authentication may provide a suitable alternative to implementing CAPTCHA.

A Brief Overview Of 2FA

Two-factor authentication refers to techniques for verifying your identity. Instead of just entering your username and password, which could be exposed and exploited by a third party, you also have to provide another factor for authentication.

Often, this involves sending a text message to the user's mobile phone by Short Message Service (SMS). This text provides the individual with an authentication PIN that they can use to help verify their identity.

While CAPTCHAs don't require mobile phone number validation, a successful 2FA completion can sometimes fulfill the objectives of CAPTCHA tests.

Overall Benefits Of 2FA

SMS authentication PINs can be delivered quickly and easily, without requiring individuals to answer questions, complete tests or solve increasingly complicated or difficult puzzles. For cell phone users, SMS is also relatively ubiquitous. Text messaging doesn't require the use of additional hardware or software other than a simple native application on the phone.

In addition to the ability to help verify that a valid user is accessing the site, 2FA can help provide further security for online accounts.

Situations Where 2FA Is the Better Option

If you're attempting to deter bots from accessing hijacked accounts, leveraging 2FA can be a helpful method for securing your website, for yourself and your customers. Two-factor authentication may also be a better alternative for mobile users to verify their identity. Since they're already accessing the application or website using a cell phone, 2FA will be simple for them to use, while a CAPTCHA could appear difficult to interpret and make clicking on the correct response more difficult.

It's also important to think carefully about what your real objectives are. If authenticating a user's identity and providing a heightened level of security for user accounts is your ultimate goal, 2FA may be a better option than CAPTCHA regardless of the circumstances. Even if the initial objective is to filter out bots, as long as implementing 2FA doesn't negatively impact the user experience, two-factor authentication may be a better, more secure and more user-friendly option than CAPTCHA.

Find Out How We Can Help You Get Started With 2FA

At Swift SMS Gateway, we can help you determine whether two-factor authentication is a better option for your specific use cases. With our support, it's easy to integrate 2FA using SMS authenticator PINs. For one client alone, we've delivered more than 200 million PINs. Reach out to our team today to learn more about this cost-effective security measure and find out where you could benefit from replacing difficult-to-read CAPTCHA challenges on your website.