Website scraping, popularly known as web scraping, continuously extracts data or content on a website. To do that, cybercriminals use a series of automated requests performed by a computerized program. For instance, bots that copy and paste content from one site to another site. The program used to generate the automated request is, referred to as the scraping bot, while the process is known as the scraping process.
It is essential to note that web scraping is legal when used for the right reasons. Think of scraping bots that scrape the content you have just published and not re-publish the content on another site. However, scraping bots can reduce your resources and slow down your website. Googlebot and Bingbot are good examples of scraping bots used for the rights reasons. These bots extract data from your site and analyze it to determine your sites ranking on the SERPs.
However, cybercriminals are now using malicious bots to scrape your website for all the wrong reasons. These bots are used to extract content from your site and replicate the stolen content on other sites. Moreover, these bots will identify vulnerabilities in your site to facilitate further attacks.
This article will teach you everything you need to know about web scraping and how to protect your web page from bad bots. We will also let you know how you can take advantage of good web scraping bots.
How Does Web Scraping Work?
Cybercriminals use various methods and techniques to extract data from your webpage. However, the attackers have to generate HTTP GET requests and send them to your servers. When your servers receive the request, they will respond by sending web files and web pages to the scraping bot.
The attacker will proceed to parse the HTML file and extract the required data. This process continues for several various pages until the bot completes its tasks. Web scraping is not an illegal process when used to extract published information. The process is only considered illegal if used to remove content from hidden web files and pages.
What Kinds of Content Can be Scrapped?
Web scraping bots can crawl and save any content. The bot can extract anything published on the internet, including images, CSS code, videos, and HTML. It all depends on the intentions of the attacker. Here are the types of content targeted by bot owners:
- Cybercriminals can use web scrappers to extract text-based content, including blog posts and website content to paste it to another web page. The bots will also replicate your Google ranking.
- Web scraping bots can also extract HTML and CSS codes to create a fake website and initiate a scam attack.
- Attackers can launch phishing attacks using the stolen data. These attacks occur when cybercriminals create a fake website and trick the clients into thinking it is a legit site.
- The bots can also harvest essential contact details, including email addresses, social media handles, and phone numbers.
- These bots can also be used to steal pricing information on a site to give the bot owner a competitive advantage.
How to Prevent Website scraping?
Taking the necessary steps to prevent web scraping is essential. You have to implement the right solution to detect and manage bot activity. Today, we will discuss some critical ways to protect your web page from web scraping:
- Update Your Terms and Conditions
- It is prohibited to replicate all the material on this site.
- Do not reproduce or use the content on this page for your commercial use.
The goal should be to clarify that no one should use your content for their commercial gain.
- Introduce CAPTCHA
Also known as, Completely Automated Public Turing to tell Computers and Humans Apart, introducing a CAPTCHA will help you win the battle against bots. Just like the name suggests, CAPTCHAs are Turing tests that tell humans and computers apart. Humans and not machines can complete these tests easily and quickly. It is best to consider the following when implementing CAPTCHAS:
- It is best to use CAPTCHAS sparingly to enhance the user experience.
- Please do not include the answer to the CAPTCHA in the HTML markup since it can be scrapped.
- Use sophisticated CAPTCHAs since attackers are using advanced bots.
- Keep Tabs on Your
You can also win the war against scraping bots by monitoring your traffic logs. Monitoring your traffic logs will allow you to detect unusual activities, including sudden spikes, more bandwidth usage, and unusual fluctuations in bounce rate. The following are crucial tips you should keep in mind when monitoring your traffic logs:
- Since advanced web scrapper bots use modern technology, you should focus on other elements apart from the IP addresses.
- Limit the access of headless browsers like Phantom JS early on to keep bots away.
- Pay close attention to unusual activity.
- Use rate limiting.
- Change Your HTML Markup Frequently
scraping bots try to find vulnerabilities in your page’s HTML markup. That is why you should change the HTML markup frequently to confuse the bots and discourage attackers from spending resources on your site.
- Mask Your Data
You can also obfuscate your data to make it hard for attackers to download the HTML for a URL to remove the required content. The attackers might move from your site and look for a new target.
Implementing a reliable bot management solution that can tell legit traffic and bot traffic apart I the best way of preventing web scraping.