Web Scraping Protection
What is Web Scraping?
Web Scraping, or Web Harving, consists of the art of extracting data from a website.
Thus, thanks to software or a program, it is possible to recover the content of a website and subsequently reuse it by structuring it in a database.
This process is today automated using a bot which will browse the sites to retrieve the requested information, this is called crawling.
How can Web Scraping be used?
Both individuals and professionals can use Web Scraping software.
Be careful however, this type of technique must respect the law including the GDPR.
Thus, within the legal framework, an individual can use software to compare prices or classified ads.
Concerning professionals, it is more delicate. Legally, a professional can, for example, use Web Scraping to:
⋅ Detect competitors’ price variations.
⋅ Retrieve contacts in large quantities on social networks such as LinkedIn, but be careful with the information retrieved and the use made, it is prohibited to engage in commercial canvassing.
⋅ Analyze figures and data without disclosing them.
⋅ Collect and analyze the reviews of these customers on the different review platforms.
⋅ Review current events and trends.
However, Web Scraping is often misused. Among the illegal uses, we find:
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The collection and use of personal and confidential data for profit. Indeed, a person must give their consent to the collection and use of their data, this is called opt-in.
Copying all or part of the content of a website onto a publicly accessible medium. It is prohibited by law to copy any image or content without the consent of the original author, because they are protected by copyright.
This type of technique is often used in the context of natural referencing, by copying a well-positioned competitor. Be careful, search engines like Google ban this kind of behavior.
It is also prohibited to use Web Scraping when the extraction method is fraudulent or illegal.
How does a Web Scraping attack take place?
Cyberattacks using Web Scraping take place in 3 distinct phases which are:
1. URL information
This preliminary step is used to enter the URLs that must be targeted, but also to configure the attack by creating fake accounts, or by camouflaging malicious robots into useful robots (like those of Google for SEO).
2. Software and processes
The army of robots used for Web Scraping go to targeted URLs. The more bots there are, the more likely the server is to go down and become inaccessible.
3. Content and data extraction
Bots and cybercriminals extract data and content from targets and then store it in their own databases for future use.
Why should you protect yourself from Web Scraping?
Web Scraping is, just like software, available in “as a Service” mode.
Thus, it is possible to find software for Web Harving, without having to program a single line.
Dishonest people can therefore recover confidential and personal data very easily.
In addition, it is, for example, possible that banking data leaks and that cybercriminals use Web Scraping to recover information en masse very quickly; this type of scenario has already happened and is very dangerous for the confidentiality of vulnerable data.
They can also copy the integrity of a site to duplicate its content and publish their version.
All this is done automatically through the use of a bot. It is essential to protect yourself from it.
Protect from Web Scraping
To protect yourself from Web Scraping, several solutions can be implemented, such as:
⋅ Use a captcha
⋅ Filter incoming requests
⋅ Monitor new accounts (and even existing ones)
⋅ Detect abnormally long visit peaks
⋅ Block malicious IP addresses
⋅ Use protection software against web scraping robots, as offered by Cloudfilt
Indeed, using software like Cloudfilt allows you to protect yourself against Web Scraping effectively and sustainably.
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