The days of clicking on traffic lights to prove you are not a robot could be ending after Google's decision to charge for the tool prompted one of the web's biggest infrastructure firms to ditch it for a competitor. "Captcha" – an awkward acronym for "completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart" – is used by sites to fight automated abuses of their services. For years, Google's version of the test, branded reCaptcha, has dominated, after it acquired the company that developed it in 2009 and offered the technology for free worldwide. Google's introduction of charges for the service has prompted Cloudflare, a little-known firm that protects around 12% of the internet from bot attacks, to seek an alternative. The company's founder and chief executive, Matthew Prince, said: "It would have added millions of dollars in annual costs just to continue to use reCaptcha for our free users. That was finally enough of an impetus for us to look for a better alternative."
The saying goes, "the internet is forever." Now, the Wayback Machine and Cloudflare are doing their part to strengthen that adage. The two are joining forces to ensure more web pages are archived, according to a post on the Internet Archive blog. The Wayback Machine, a project of Internet Archive, allows you to view web pages as they appeared on certain past dates. The partnership with Cloudflare means Internet Archive has another source for URLs -- websites that use Cloudflare's Always Online service.
The web is decentralized and fluid by design, but all that chaos and ephemerality can make it difficult to keep a site up and online without interruption. That's what has made the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine feature so invaluable over the years, maintaining a history of long-forgotten pages. Now its deep memory will help make sure the sites you visit never go down, through a partnership with the internet infrastructure company Cloudflare. Since 2010, Cloudflare has offered a feature called Always On, which caches a static version of sites that it can serve to visitors in case of downtime. Always On was one of CloudFlare's original offerings; John Graham-Cumming, the company's chief technology officer, says the infrastructure powering it was due to be rearchitected.
Cloudflare launched today a new service named the "Cloudflare Onion Service" that can distinguish between bots and legitimate Tor traffic. The main advantage of this new service is that Tor users will see far less, or even no CAPTCHAs when accessing a Cloudflare-protected website via the Tor Browser. The new Cloudflare Onion Service needed the Tor team to make "a small tweak in the Tor binary," hence it will only work with recent versions of the Tro Browser --the Tor Browser 8.0 and the new Tor Browser for Android, both launched earlier this month. Tor users who are dead tired of seeing an endless stream of Google reCAPTCHAs when accessing a Cloudflare-protected site are advised to update to one of these two versions. The new Cloudflare Onion Service is also free for all Cloudflare customers and can be enabled by switching on the "Opportunistic Encryption" option under the Crypto tab of the Cloudflare dashboard.
CloudFlare is tweaking its systems to make it easier for legitimate Tor users to access websites that use its network to deliver content. Tor users have complained that CloudFlare-powered websites too frequently display CAPTCHAs, a security gate designed to stop automated web bots and abuse. CAPTCHAs are the squiggly text or puzzles you have to solve to prove you're a real human. Legitimate Tor users thus have a poor browsing experience given the wide use of CloudFlare's CDN. Tor is a network of distributed nodes that provides greater privacy by encrypting a person's browsing traffic and routing it through random proxy servers.