Security research has cracked the captcha conundrum nightmare
A SECURITY RESEARCHER HAS EARNED HIS MONEY this week by poking a fat hole into the Google Captcha system by turning Google on itself.
The attack is simple, but that doesn’t mean that it is not capable . In very short terms, it takes the audio Captcha challenge from Google, runs it through Google’s voice recognition technology and throws it back as a response.
A teaser on GitHub introduces us to the easy logic vulnerability attack1, while a more detailed blog on the East-Ee Security site provides the necessary information . There we learn that some human interaction is involved because it is necessary to select the audio ReCaptcha option.
“ReBreakCaptcha knows how to solve ReCaptcha v2 audio challenges . Therefore, we need a methodology of how to get an audio challenge every time2 . What is our goal ? To bypass the ReCaptcha . Can we do this ? Yes . How ?
Google Speech Recognition API!,” says our anonymous poster. Google helps out by offering the challenged user the chance to download the audio file challenge . This makes the crack much easier.
“Now comes the fun part, taking advantage of one Google’s service to beat another Google’s service ! Let’s download the audio file and send it to Google Speech Recognition API,” adds the blog.
“Now we have the audio challenge file and are ready to send it to Google Speech Recognition . How can this be done ? Using their API.
“Before doing so, we will convert it to a wav’ format which is requested by Google’s Speech Recognition PI.”
So what we have here is something of a dog bites dog incident . Except someone has incited the dog to bite itself and got a python involved .
The research used a Python library named SpeechRecognition and got nothing but positive results.
“We will use this library implementation of Google Speech Recognition API . We will send the wav’ audio file and the Speech Recognition will send us back the result in a string (e.g .
25143′) . This result will be the solution to our audio challenge,” adds the blog.
“The verification stage is fairly short . All we need to do now is to copy-paste the output string from Stage 2 into the text box and click Verify’ on the ReCaptcha widget . That’s right, we now semi-automatically used Google’s Services to bypass another service of its own.”
A proof of concept is posted on GitHub.
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George Clooney granted permission for security cameras at England home5 George Clooney has won permission to install CCTV cameras around his $16 million country home in Sonning, Berkshire, despite concerns from local council approved his planning application. Ten security cameras will be installed around the house, with
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Wi-Fi based home security camera options are everywhere at the moment, with the Google-owned Nest Cam not the first product with its foot in the door, so to speak . We’ve already seen Withings Home, Netatmo Welcome and Panasonic Nubo to name but a few.
Nest Cam records high-definition footage and, for a monthly/annual fee, can store 10 days of capture in the cloud . It’s possible to view what the camera sees in real-time from wherever you are via its mobile app (assuming a connection) for peace of mind, while notifications can alert you to any movement and sound action.
So far, so similar: that’s what other home security cameras offer too .
Where Nest Cam tries to standout is with its communication tie-in with the wider Nest ecosystem, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke alarm (if, of course, you own such products).
After weeks of testing, however, we’ve not found Nest Cam to communicate with that ecosystem to its full potential, leading us to find the same highs and lows as with many other home security cameras . Has Nest got the edge when it comes to home security, or is it just a big name with little extra to truly offer?
Nest Cam review: Design
Home security cameras range from abysmally unattractive to borderline pretty; no company seems to have quite cracked it yet . Nest Cam tries to stand out with its dark colour, teardrop-esque shape design but, actually, we think it looks rather average .
It’s an industrial look, not a patch on the good-looking silver-edged Nest Learning Thermostat.
In the box Nest Cam comes with a screw-in stand and accompanying base, which can be adhered to the wall if desired . The stand can tilt up and down by 90-degrees each way, while the camera can freely rotate through 360-degrees to compensate for horizontal and vertical positioning as necessary . No vertical videos to be found here.
The 130-degree angle of view from the lens is ultra wide-angle, meaning even smaller rooms will fit into its all-seeing eye field of view .
There’s a mic to listen for sound alerts (which are off by default) and a speaker on the rear which can be used to speak through if you want to shout at the dog for biting the sofa or, who knows, prank your house guest.
Nest Cam review: Setup
It’s supposed to take a single minute to setup Nest Cam, but it doesn’t . Not that it takes so long that you’ll be in tears or pulling out your hair, but there are a few steps that need to be taken to get everything sussed out.
First, plug the mini USB into the camera so it switches on . We wish this port and cable was hidden out of view as the white cable provided looks eye-catching, and not in a good way .
The cable can’t be hidden within the stand stem either.
Next, download the Nest app on your smart device . As Learning Thermostat users we already have this, so it was just a case of adding a new product . On the back of the Cam is a QR code which can be scanned using your app-loaded device’s camera for a supposed quick setup through an associated Wi-Fi network .
Setup failed via the app three times in succession for us, though, so we reverted to the browser-based setup on a laptop instead, which worked fine . But all that added to the setup time.
Once successful a new circle icon (complete with the name you’ve give it – ours is Office ) will appear within the app, so it’s possible to toggle between Nest products as applicable . It’s a simple yet elegant solution.
Nest Cam review: Quality and notifications
Nest Cam captures footage up to Full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution) so there’s ample detail, with the ability to temporarily enhance (which is just digital zoom) into areas of the image as desired .
Nigh Vision is automatic (or can be manually toggled on or off) delivering an impressively clear greyscale image.
That’s one of the big sells for Nest Cam: the quality of its footage is really good . So whether you’re sharing a funny clip of your pet dog going bananas, or catch a break-in, there’s sufficient detail whatever the brightness conditions.
Within the full frame if anything moves then Nest will send out a notification alert via the smartphone app (it’s not possible to receive email alerts) . This is Nest at its simplest, but there are additional ways to detail notifications, including the option to add drawn-on and named Zones (it’s only possible to create these polygonal sections from a browser on a computer, though, not within the app) .
It’s possible to toggle these Zones on and off for notifications, but Nest will always record when it sees motion, it’s whether or not you’ve told the system to notify or not.
There’s a 2-second lag between live events and when you’ll see the image if you’re watching live via the app or a browser, while automated recorded sections of footage can be opened and viewed as you please – although the inability to scroll through long clips from the History section with ease is frustrating and not very Nest in an app that ought to be more refined . Opening a clip directly from a notification pulls it up fullscreen with enough on-screen controls to scrub through a clip, but this doesn’t translate to older historical clips for some reason.
Nest Cam review: The Nest big thing?
It’s possible to schedule when Nest Cam is on and off, in a similar way to the Nest Learning Thermostat . It’s even possible to have the Nest Cam come on when the thermostat knows when we’re away, putting itself into Away mode .
Although we’ve been unconvinced this has worked at all times: sometimes Nest Cam goes offline and we’ve not been sure why, so the communication between products feels uncertain.
Nest Cam is said to automatically record if the Nest Protect smoke alarm triggers, although that may not be of use if placement of the two devices are in different rooms (and we don’t have that product connected to verify this).
According to Nest, from its own in-app setup notes, there’s also advanced motion sensing which, to quote, looks for faces while filtering out light, shadows, leaves and trees . It didn’t work for us: it never identified a face, while changes in light from passing cloud cover caused repeat alerts while away on holiday (causing frantic, what the heck is going on in the office ? moments, only to see nothing but the sun lighting up a patch of wall).
With devices such as Netatmo Welcome offering users face registration so they can be recognised and alerts dished out accordingly, Nest isn’t the most advanced home security cam out there .
And we wholly expected it to be.
Nest Cam review: Cloud cost implication
Like so many home security cameras, Nest Cam is only really useful if you subscribe in order to store 10 consecutive days of capture in the cloud . There’s a free 90-day trial with each purchase, so you’ll get almost three months of use, which is the way in which we’ve been using the camera.
When that trial time is up, it’s still possible to plug into the live view of the camera, but clips aren’t going to be stored in the cloud . And with no on-board microSD storage option, those hoping to use Nest Cam as a simple pet monitor, for example, are going to be disappointed .
Although we’ve often called out how on-board recording would be as good as useless if someone broke in, spotted the camera and took it with them.
Nest Cam costs 159 in the UK, so it’s relatively competitive in the order of things . The cloud storage, called Nest Aware, is priced at 8/month of 80/year, so that ongoing cost is the thing to really consider.
There’s a lot to be said for expectation . With Nest being, well, Nest, we anticipated it was going to be a five-star home security camera .
But it’d be a stretch to call it the best option going, given the advances other manufacturers have made in facial recognition and related notifications, with Nest not always delivering on its potential, nor always functioning with perfect accuracy.
As home security cameras go it’s a familiar tale: Nest Cam has got all the necessary notifications and back-up cloud storage options for a decent core experience, one with great quality Full HD video capture and Night Vision options . Its real sell should be the communication with the wider Nest ecosystem, but the way in which this works doesn’t feel well communicated at present . For Nest Cam to be the five-star product it could be there ought to be a more advanced Nest ecosystem tie-in, app layout adjustments for better usability, improved intelligent recognition, and additional advanced features to really standout.
Overall Nest Cam lays a solid product, and stands out for the way it looks (whether you’re a fan or not), but it doesn’t quite elevate itself beyond the competition .
Which would almost be high praise for an underdog, but feels shy of full potential in this instance .
Future updates ought to further improve the experience, though, so the only way is up.