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When you log on to Gogo Inflight Wifi or similar, Gogo displays a captcha:


(source: triphackr.com)

A CAPTCHA is usually associated with preventing automated traffic from accessing your network; however, to connect to Gogo you need to be on the plane, thirty thousand feet in the air. It doesn't seem like this is exploitable by bots (or what the advantage would be from doing so).

What am I missing?

closed as off-topic by DA01, tohster, Rumi P., Evil Closet Monkey, Graham Herrli May 11 '15 at 17:07

  • This question does not appear to be about user experience within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    The reason [insert any site] typically shows a CAPTCHA is due to a) habit b) laziness. In terms of UX, there's no good reason for a CAPTCHA. – DA01 May 11 '15 at 5:19
  • Maybe it makes the system look more secure? – Uwe Keim May 11 '15 at 5:28
  • Drones are/will be everywhere – Yohann V. May 11 '15 at 6:40
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    Perhaps this can be migrated to security.stackexchange.com – tohster May 11 '15 at 7:29
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    I like the way it says "visually impared ?" - in small print... – PhillipW May 11 '15 at 7:55
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The web node that provides the internet access for the in-flight wifi is unlikely to be in the plane - it's more likely to be ground based with traffic routed via a satellite connection. Technically, therefore, it can probably be accessed from anywhere in the world. That's why it needs protection from bots.

Also (as @PS86 says) where better to deploy an anonymous bot net from than 30,000 feet in the air? especially as you're going to be flying over all sorts of different national airspaces!

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One possible reason.

Bandwidth to the public internet on flights is severely limited. The more devices connected to the public internet on the flight the worse performance for everybody gets.

Many, if not most, devices connect to public wifi networks automatically. The CAPTCHA forces an interaction that means only active users motivated enough to get past the capture get online. Removing automated connections and "trivial" usage means performance is better for the active invested customers — who are more likely to pay/complain for the service.

  • This doesn't make sense... you can't get "online" without entering your credit card, or logging in. You aren't disconnected from the network if you don't answer the CAPTCHA properly. – Kevin Burke May 11 '15 at 17:45
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What makes you think that someone would not try to create automated network traffic by executing a bot "in-flight"?

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    Because bots are for doing things many times. Like leaving spam messages on forums, or upvoting videos. These things could be done manually, but they would be tedious. Logging in to the plane wifi is not something you're going to do hundreds of times, since you only have a handful of devices on you anyway. – Peter May 11 '15 at 9:07

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