“Oh, I just love spam! It hardly takes up any of my time or causes me any inconvenience, and I find it all really interesting!” – said no one ever.
Let’s be real, the more accurate (and universal) answer to spam is: UGH!!!
While online print ordering allows you to level the competitive playing field and expand your reach, an unfortunate side effect of the internet age is the increase in online scams and spambots.
On your print website, these spambots most likely make themselves known through a surge of fake customer accounts and an unwelcome onslaught of bogus account emails.
But, what exactly is a spambot and what can you do to get rid of them?
Besides being a royal pain, a spambot is a computer program that performs repetitive tasks and typically tries to disguise itself as a real user.
These repetitive tasks usually include things like creating fake emails or accounts on forums and messaging apps. Creating a user account on your print website only involves filling out a few fields, such as your print buyer’s name, email address, etc., making it relatively easy for a skilled programmer (a.k.a. attacker) to fill out those form fields automatically using a bot.
So, what can you do about this unwelcome visitor? You can pull out a good ole bottle of spam repellant!
There is one good thing about these “People of the Spam”: they’re impatient. They don’t want to stick around and actually work at anything.
Because these lovely spammers who create spambots are trying to streamline the process and create literally hundreds of accounts at the same time, you can prey on their impatience and slow them down by adding verification steps through reCAPTCHA.
Think of reCAPTCHA sort of like Batman’s shark repellent, but way stronger and for spambots. Here’s how it works.
The term CAPTCHA stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.” In other words, a CAPTCHA test is used to determine if a visitor to your website is really a human print buyer or just a pesky bot.
You’ve probably seen this original type of test yourself when signing up for something online. The computer will ask you to identify a bunch of obscured letters and numbers strung together, similar to this:
Because human brains can pick out the letters and numbers correctly but computers can’t, the test prevents a spambot from moving forward in the account creation process.
But as technology progresses, so does the need for better spam-blocking measures. That’s where reCAPTCHA comes in.
Google offers the free reCAPTCHA service as a replacement for traditional CAPTCHAs. Unlike original CAPTCHA tests, reCAPTCHA uses text from real-world images, such as pictures of street addresses or print sources like old books and newspapers, making it much more advanced than the typical CAPTCHA tests. You’ll see a couple of different versions of these tests. Here are a couple of examples:
In this type of test, the user (and computer) have to pick out image squares that contain certain objects, such as bridges, streetlights, or statues. The test then determines if a user is real or fake by the image selections chosen, the time it takes, and how the user interacts with the page.
This version of a reCAPTCHA test entails only one simple action: checking a box to indicate that you’re not a robot.
How does checking one box prove you’re not a robot? It doesn’t. But, what the test is actually measuring is all of the actions you took that led up to checking the box. For example, the movement of your cursor as it approaches the checkbox. If your movement contains even a microscopic amount of randomness or unpredictability, it helps prove you’re a real, live human being. Spambots have a hard time duplicating these tiny, unpredictable movements we as humans don’t even know we’re doing.
If, however, the test can’t tell solely based on your cursor movements, it might give you an image recognition test as well. But, for the most part, evaluating a user’s cursor movements, along with things like website cookies and device history, are enough.
Did you know that, on average, it takes a user 10 seconds to complete a reCAPTCHA test?
Who has time for that? Google has been pretty in tune with the fact that real people don’t like to be slowed down or feel like they’re wasting their time on reCAPTCHA tests. So, they created a behavior assessment test.
In this test, reCAPTCHA starts analyzing the behavior of the user on your site to evaluate how human-like it is. If a user’s actions and behavior on the site turn out to be pretty human-like, it will present them with only the “I am not a robot” box. If anything appears robotic about the way that person may be interacting with the web page, then they’ll receive a more involved test.
Implementing reCAPTCHA on your print website just makes good business sense. Here’s how to implement this feature on your website from Marketing Ideas For Printers.
To create a Google reCAPTCHA account, visit https://www.google.com/recaptcha/, and select ‘Admin Console’ in the upper-right corner. From here, you can ‘Register a new site’, enter your reCAPTCHA label (business name, domain name, or whatever you’d like to name it), and choose the reCAPTCHA version you’d like to use. We recommend that you use reCAPTCHA v3. This is the most customer-friendly version that is still free for you up to one million assessments per month.
During this account setup process, you can also add Owners if you’d like to receive alerts for things such as misconfigurations or an increase in suspicious traffic.
Once you’ve created your account, you’ll receive a Site Key and a Secret Key for your reCAPTCHA form from Google. You’ll need to enter that Key information into your website’s settings by going into your Control Center > Website Settings > reCAPTCHA Settings and entering and saving the keys there.
One last thing, for those of you with Private Label Websites, you’ll also want to add the domain addresses (URLs) of your Private Label Websites to your Google reCAPTCHA account.
And, there you have it: bada bing, bada boom, forget ’bout it! You can go about your business and say goodbye to those annoying fake accounts.
If you need additional help keeping the riff-raff out of your website with reCAPTCHA, reach out and we’ll help you every step of the way.