Cloudflare, the Internet web infrastructure company has announced their decision to stop support for Google’s reCAPTCHA service and move to a new bot detection provider called hCaptcha.
The co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare, Matthew Prince said that they have made this decision in view of Google’s future plans to charge for the use of the reCAPTCHA service, that would have cost them millions of dollars in annual costs for the company.
Cloudflare has imposed significant costs on the reCAPTCHA service, even for Google. He added that if the value of the image classification training did not exceed those costs, it is wise for Google to ask for payment for the service they provide.
Cloudflare would begin integrating a new anti-bot CAPTCHA system into Cloudflare products named hCaptcha which is provided by California-based company Intuition Machines, Inc.
Intuition Machines makes profit by renting access to hCaptcha to companies who want to run image classification experiments, and then pay website owners to implement its hCaptcha product.
Cloudflare however stated that they will be paying the company instead, rather than being paid by hCaptcha. He makes sure that Intuition Machines will have the resources to scale its infrastructure to meet Cloudflare’s demands.
Cloudflare is a managed DNS provider for 11.3% of all internet websites, and a reverse-proxy (firewall) provider for 12.4% of all internet sites, and boasts of handling massive amounts of traffic on a daily basis.
Prince admits that while paying for the facility to use hCaptcha generates some additional costs for his company; still that cost would be nothing as compares to what reCAPTCHA would have induced.
By using hCaptcha, two other issues faced by Cloudflare are also addressed. The first is that reCAPTCHA is sometimes intermittently blocked in China making it impossible for Chinese-based websites and users to use Cloudflare. Secondly, the company doesn’t have to worry about Google’s privacy-intrusive data collection policy, as hCaptcha collects much less data about users who complete its forms.
Cloudflare has used Google’s reCAPTCHA service as part of its IP Firewall and Gatebot products, where reCAPTCHA would activate itself when a Cloudflare-protected website would come under DDoS or other forms of automated attacks, asking users to complete a reCAPTCHA form before accessing the site.
Cloudflare also uses reCAPTCHA part of its Security Levels feature, permitting site administrators to enable a reCAPTCHA form for all incoming users as a basic form of traffic filtering and rate-limiting, even if the website was under attack or not.