Co-WIN Ditches Captcha; Brings New Fix Against Bots, Browser Extensions For Better Success Rate

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The Union Health Ministry has removed the captcha code verification step before bookings on Co-WIN, according to a report in Times of India on Friday. The report, citing a central government officer familiar with the matter, said that the government has also limited a number of slot searches per user on the portal, which is likely to prevent bots or browser extensions from automatically searching for slots. “Captcha was origially introduced to deter distributed denial-of-service (DDos) attacks, but it is proving to be an inconvenience for booking slots. With technology advancing, simple captchas can be tampered with and the introduction of more complex captcha’s would have proved inconvenient to users,” the officer was quoted by TOI as saying.

The officer also told the daily that additional security measures are now in place on the portal. He said that the number of searches for a slot has now been restricted to 15-20, after which the portal will log the user out. This, he said, would prevent bots from playing with our systems and carrying out multiple searches at any point in time. It was recently reported that people were making browser extensions to bypass captcha on Co-WIN, with claims that such programmers could automatically book appointments on the portal, including entering the code.

Founders of apps that use Co-WIN API to alert users on the availability of vaccine slots said that the additional security measures introduced on June 3 are in fact, helping people to book slots manually.

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