New Skype users face a mad captcha stopping them from finishing their registration. It appears, again and again, each time when you try to log in for the first time with your Microsoft account. The corporation does not comment if it is a bug or a feature that is designed to decrease the flow of the fake account.
Skype captcha problem: what is going on?
On Monday, 01/04, a lot of messages about the Skype captcha madness appeared. This thing is pretty familiar for old users of this application, but this time it does its best to prevent your login. Instead of weeding out robots who try to log in, this thing acts as a real mind-breaker for the users. Solving it once is ok, but 10 times in a row can make literally anyone mad. And it is very easy to make a mistake in one of the attempts, so you would do this test again.
Without the Skype captcha, you will not be able to log into your account if you are doing it for the first time. Hence, the newcomers are just paralyzed in using this video messenger. It is not clear why this thing appeared, but it is obvious that it must be fixed as soon as possible. Microsoft does not comment on this situation, and that looks like an old-new tradition. Earlier, when their attempts at propagating Edge came into view, the tech giant did not say even a word on the situation. The case with an old bug in Azure that lead to a large data leak also left almost without any comments. This time, history repeats itself.
How to solve Skype captcha?
Obviously, as its “normal” alteration – by solving what it asks you to. But it is not OK when you need it fast, not after several attempts and 10-15 minutes of trying. Users report that this error will not appear if you will log in with a Microsoft account, and not using a Microsoft account. Other folks say that the problem disappears when you turn off your VPN – just to prevent the blocks because of unusual connection setups. But the last piece of advice does not help very often.
Why did this bug appear?
As I have mentioned, Microsoft did not comment on this situation. However, Reddit users figured out an interesting thing: the first second of 2022 was out of a max integer value in 32-bit notation. 23:59 12/31/2021 was 2,112,312,359 (21-12-31-23-59), and the first one in 2022 was 2,201,010,000. The maximum integer value for the 32-bit notation systems is 2,147,483,6471 – which is less than the value for the first second of 2022. This thing just caused the stack overflow. That thought fits well in what happened – all Microsoft services turned mad after the New Year celebration.
It is notable that the fears about issues after a new year coming are not new. More than two decades ago, in 1999, people were afraid of a so-called “Y2K problem”. That thing had similar origins with the hypothesis of a Reddit user. People at the edge of Millenium were afraid that all digital clocks and counters that were designed for the XX century would fail to count the year number that is bigger than 1999. Since programmers used to shorten the year to just the last two digits, 1900 and 2000 were indistinguishable for the programs. And it happened in several places – clocks on the railway stations said that it is 01/03/1900 – when it was the third of January, 2000.
What is captcha?
Captcha is a simple visual test that appears on different websites and in applications. Cybersecurity specialists created it to weed out the requests created by non-humans – in case of DDoS-attack, for example. It usually has a shape of “choose the bike images”, simple mathematics, or just an opt-in button. Humans will likely solve it in less than 10 seconds, so it will not inflate the browsing experience. However, bots are still not able to solve all captchas correctly, especially when we talk about botnets.
These tests showed perfect efficiency for stopping excessive traffic. Even this traffic appears because of real people – for example, on a Eurovision web page during this song consent – captchas slow down the requests flow. Therefore, the page can work with more users on it simultaneously – and you don’t need to improve your hosting. Providing sustainability is a very important part of website/web interface maintenance, and captcha is just one of the tools from the DevOps’ toolkit. But sometimes, just like in the case of a Skype captcha, it acts against normal users.
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- More information about the calculation standards is on the IBM website.