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Web Scraping with reCAPTCHA

Updated: Jun 26

As more and more businesses post content, pricing, and other information on their websites, information is more important than ever in today’s digital age. 


Web scraping—also commonly referred to as web harvesting or web extracting—is the act of extracting information from websites all around the internet, and it’s becoming so common that some companies have separate terms and conditions for automated data collection. In this blog post, however, we’ll examine the rising trend of malicious web scraping, how and why it happens, and how it can be mitigated with reCAPTCHA Enterprise. 


Web scraping 101

Gathering all the information on the Internet manually would be time consuming and tedious. Web scraping with bots enables companies and individuals to automate web scraping in real time, and makes it very easy to retrieve and store the information being scraped much faster than a human ever could.


Two of the most common types of web scraping are price scraping and content scraping. 


Price scraping is used to gather the pricing details of products and services posted on a website. Competitors can gain tremendous value by knowing each other’s products, offerings, and prices. Bots can be used to scrape that information and find out when competitors place an item on sale or when they make updates to their products. This information can then be used to undercut prices or make better competitive decisions.


Content scraping is the theft of huge amounts of data from a specific site or sites. Content can be stolen and then reposted on other sites or distributed through other means, which can lead to a huge loss of advertising revenues or traffic to digital content. This information can also be resold to competitors or used in other bot campaigns, like spamming. 


Web scraping can also negatively impact how your site utilizes resources. Bots often consume more website resources than humans do because they can make requests much faster and more frequently. In addition, they search for information everywhere, often ignoring a site's robots.txt file, which normally sets guidelines on what should be scraped. This can cause performance degradation for real users and increased compute costs from serving content to scraping bots. 


How reCAPTCHA Enterprise can help

Scrapers who are abusing your site and retrieving data will often try to avoid detection in a similar manner to malicious actors performing credential stuffing attacks. For example, these bots may be hiding in plain sight, attempting to appear as a legitimate service in their user agent string and request patterns.


reCAPTCHA Enterprise can identify these bots and continue to identify them as their methods evolve, without causing interference to human consumers. Sophisticated and motivated attackers can easily bypass static rules. With its advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning, reCAPTCHA Enterprise can identify bots that are working silently in the background. It then gives you the tools and visibility to prevent those bots from accessing your valuable web content and reduce the computational power spent on serving content to them. This has the added benefit of letting security administrators spend less time writing manual firewall and detection rules to mitigate dynamic botnets.


In today’s threat landscape, fighting automated threats requires behavioral analysis. reCAPTCHA Enterprise can also give you visibility into just how many bots are accessing your web pages and how often. Most importantly, reCAPTCHA Enterprise’s detection won’t slow down or interfere with your end users and customers, providing protections with zero friction for your most important users—real humans.


#webscraping #reCAPTCHA

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