Web Scraping: How One Bot Can Steal All Your Content?

Web Scraping How one bot can steal all your content
Web Scraping How one bot can steal all your content

Web Scraping: How One Bot Can Steal All Your Content? – When a bot downloads substantially or all of the content on a website, regardless of the website owner’s intentions, this is known as content scraping or web scraping. Data scraping is a type of content scraping. It is almost often carried out by computerized bots. Scraper bots may sometimes download an entire website’s content in a matter of seconds.

Scraping bots are frequently used to repurpose content for nefarious objectives, such as duplicating content for SEO on attacker-controlled websites, infringing copyrights, and stealing organic traffic. Content scraping may entail filling out and submitting forms to gain access to additional gated content, resulting in junk data in a company’s database as a byproduct. Furthermore, responding to HTTP requests from bots consumes server resources that may otherwise be used to serve human users.

What methods do bots use to scrape content?

A website scraper bot will often perform a series of HTTP GET queries, then copy and save all of the information returned by the web server, working its way up the website’s hierarchy until it has copied all of the content.

More advanced scraper bots can utilize JavaScript to fill out all of a website’s forms and download any gated content. In an attempt to fool the website’s server into thinking a human user is accessing the material, “browser automation” tools and APIs allow automated bots to interact with websites and APIs as if they were using a standard web browser.

Even for huge sites like e-commerce sites with hundreds or thousands of unique product pages, bots can explore and download all of the content on a website in seconds.

What are the types of content that content scraping bots look for?

Bots may scrape any publicly available information on the Internet, including text, photos, HTML code, CSS code, and so on. Scraped data can be used for a variety of purposes by attackers. Text can be reused on another website to confuse users or steal the first website’s search engine ranking. An attacker could exploit the HTML and CSS code of a website to imitate the look of a legitimate website or another company’s branding. Cyber criminals might utilise stolen content to create phishing websites that imitate the legitimate version of another website to deceive people into submitting personal information.

What are the different types of web scraping?

Scraping in contact

Web scraping is an automated data extraction process. This is the process of scanning webpages for contact information such as phone numbers and email addresses, and then downloading it. Email harvesting bots are a form of scraper bot that particularly targets email addresses, typically in order to locate fresh spam targets.

Scraping of prices

This occurs when a corporation gets all of the pricing information from a competitor’s website in order to alter its own pricing.

How can businesses protect themselves from web scraping?

Bot management solutions, which generally rely on machine learning, can detect bot behavior patterns and prevent bot scraping. Rate restriction can also assist prevent content scraping: a real user isn’t going to request the content of hundreds of pages in a matter of seconds or minutes, and any “user” doing so is most certainly a bot. CAPTCHA difficulties can also aid distinguish between real users and bots.

Instead of a human manually copying and pasting material or code, a bot can accomplish it in a matter of seconds and never stop. The beauty of web scraping is that it allows you to acquire a large amount of data with little effort and in a short amount of time.

When does web scraping come in handy?

When someone needs to gather information. It doesn’t matter if it’s:

    • A business attempting to identify a specific demographic
    • A government attempting to collect data about its citizens
    • A businessperson attempting to deduce (or steal) his competitor’s pricing and marketing strategy.

Web scraping can be a useful tool, but that doesn’t imply it’s acceptable to everyone involved.

There are benefits and drawbacks to web scraping.

Web scraping can be done in a variety of ways, and not all of them are malicious. Web scraping bots are used by a number of companies to help content authors.

To improve their search results, Bing and Google use crawlers to scrape the web. Trying to prevent users from doing so will inevitably result in your website being relegated to the internet’s dark and lonely corners.

Web scraping bots aren’t all created equal. Unfortunately, the most majority of site scraping bots aren’t out to aid you; rather, they’re trying to gain an unfair advantage over you.

Scraping prices, for example, is a frequent strategy for gaining a competitive advantage. Someone could scan every competition he has in a heartbeat and try to undercut everyone on that market with the correct botnet.

Another type of botnet misuse is content scraping, which occurs when a botnet copies and downloads everything on your website. A bot will download and store every line of code – including your content – without your permission.

Is it true that while web scraping is frequently a less-than-legal practise, the law protects you from it? No, not at all.

Is web scraping permissible?

Despite the fact that rules differ from state to state and country to country, it’s safe to argue that there’s no clear-cut way to define what constitutes legal online scraping.

Across the previous two decades, judges all over the world have reached varied conclusions on the issue (and, sometimes, without fully understanding what web scraping is). In the end, the legal consensus boils down to this: it differs from case to case.

So, when is online scraping going to be considered a criminal offence? When a hacker or programmer employs bots to steal material or data in order to profit from it. Even in such case, online scraping may not be illegal in and of itself, but the act of using or selling the information is.

Because bots (like anything computer-related) are always developing, lawmakers and courts are always one step behind in this sector. And whether or not web scraping is legal can change in an instant.

How to Prevent Scraping on Your Website

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to web scraping. It’s a difficult task to take on, one that will require you to roll up your sleeves and devise your best approach.

Most experts currently advise taking a hands-on approach, which entails taking the time to figure out where the bots are coming from and blocking those entry points. Analyze the bots’ online fingerprints, IP addresses, and other characteristics to do so.

The best defense against online scraping is a combination of that hands-on method and a more general one, such as a verification challenge (and other malicious bots).

Keep in mind that bots are always changing. Always try to keep one step ahead of the game, and never get too comfortable with bot management.

Jennifer Thomas
Jennifer Thomas is the Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer at Cybers Guards. Prior to that, She was responsible for leading its Cyber Security Practice and Cyber Security Operations Center, which provided managed security services.