When it comes to spam protection, CAPTCHA and honeypot are two common network security mechanisms that people tend to compare with. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of CAPTCHA and honeypot methods, and discuss which one your online business should implement to stop spambots and related bot attacks.

What is the honeypot method?

Honeypot acts as a decoy to detect, deflect and study the suspicious use of internet systems. It allows attackers to exploit certain vulnerabilities of a computer system that regular users are unable to discover in order to trap attackers and distinguish them from legit users.


When it comes to spam protection, a honeypot is often seen in the form of hidden fields. Spambots are a type of malicious computer program that sends spam messages and disinformation over the Internet, like social media platforms, where they’re disguised as human users. That’s where honeypot traps come into use. 


Web developers embed hidden fields inside forms, like comment sections and posting areas, therefore forms with hidden fields that become invisible to regular users are frequently referred to as the honeypot strategy. Bots, on the other hand, can detect and interact with these fields, while an ordinary user cannot interact with the forms, so that it becomes alerts to the site owner saying that there is a presence of a bot. Once identified, bots can be either stopped or fed with fake data.


The honeypot method could be an effective simple way to fight spam. Here are three reasons why you should use honeypot for spam protection.

  • It is simple to implement. If you needed to block spammers, you can simply change your form structure by creating a “honeypot” field with lines of code.
  • It works against most spam senders. If you have multiple anti-spam requirements on different occasions, like email, comment, posting, etc., the honeypot method could meet most of your use cases.
  • Your user experience would not be compromised, because the honeypot method is completely invisible to legit users.


But honeypot method is only a simple layer to prevent attacks like spambots in a simple way. 

  • It is easy to bypass if the spambot operator knows you are using the honeypot method. And some technologies and sophisticated bots can identify whether you use this or not.
  • It will limit the accessibility of your website or app. Users with a screen reader can find the hidden field and may fill it out.

What is CAPTCHA?

CAPTCHA was born to protect people from malicious bots on the internet. It distinguishes if the request is submitted by a real person or an automated bot by presenting a challenge that only humans can solve.

Websites and mobile apps implement CAPTCHA to prevent not only spammers but other common bot attacks, such as ATO, credential stuffing, web scraping, ticket scalping, etc.



  • CAPTCHA covers more types of bot attacks than honeypot methods. Like it is mentioned above, CAPTCHA detects and mitigates more complicated bot threats, while honeypot often only targets spambots.
  • It helps website owners to monitor their traffic patterns. By identifying bots and human users, CAPTCHA offers a rough traffic analysis for online business owners and helps them get insight into their data. 


  • Traditional CAPTCHAs may cause discomfort for users. For example, text-based CAPTCHAs are hard to recognize for visually impaired people and daltonian
  • Supposedly, advanced bots could automatically decode legacy CAPTCHAs at a more accurate rate and speed than people.

Can Honeypot Method Replace CAPTCHA?

Honeypots can certainly halt spambots that are not smart enough to detect honeypot protection. Aside from that kind of bots, the honeypot method is a bit out of its depth. Sophisticated bots are capable of detecting and avoiding such traps, and may even evade them.


While CAPTCHAs are more than honeypot. It has direct protection (the challenges) and n protection (invisible detection and labeling) that can handle the majority of sophisticated bots.

Honeypot methods in GeeTest CAPTCHA

GeeTest CAPTCHA combines the strength of CAPTCHA with honeypot theories in order to reinforce the security of CAPTCHA and improve CAPTCHA’s ease of use for individual users.

  • Add dynamic tokens to the GeeTest CAPTCHA workflow

We roughly divide a CAPTCHA verification process into three steps: challenge-answer-validate. During the validation, GeeTest will send a token to end-users, and if it was a legit user, the token would be returned unchanged, because regular users can’t see or do anything to this token, however, if it was bots, they may miss or change the token when returning it to GeeTest server, so that even though bots seemingly passed the verification, they are already exposed and their action is restricted. Therefore, a honeypot trap is built into GeeTest CAPTCHA.

The image below is the flow chart of GeeTest CAPTCHA

  • JavaScript obfuscation

GeeTest CAPTCHA has a 7-layer dynamic security strategy. The first layer is JS dynamic obfuscation update. When users request CAPTCHA, the CAPTCHA resource will be loaded, that is, JS script loading and JS will be dynamically updated. Attackers may reversely decode the JS to crack CAPTCHA, and GeeTest uses JS obfuscation technology to regularly obfuscate and update the JS invoked by the user.

The image below shows the 7-layer dynamic security strategy of GeeTest CAPTCHA

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Relying entirely on honeypots to prevent spambots is just insufficient. Most CAPTCHA solutions, whether enterprise-grade or not, will make it more difficult for hackers and should be utilized instead. If you run a personal blog or a tiny website, you may be able to get by with an in-house CAPTCHA and a honeypot. However, if your website attracts large traffic, it will almost certainly become a target for attackers, in which case you should be prepared - beginning with an advanced CAPTCHA - before any monetary or reputational harm happens.


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