Bruce Schneier's blog pointed me to a research paper on "Attacks and Design of Image Recognition CAPTCHAs" (PDF). The abstract says, "We systematically study the design of image recognition CAPTCHAs (IRCs) in this paper. We first review and examine all IRCs schemes known to us and evaluate each scheme against the practical requirements in CAPTCHA applications, particularly in large-scale real-life applications such as Gmail and Hotmail."
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