Many e-commerce businesses and local businesses need data to learn about market trends, understand what preferences customers have, and identify how competitors are strategizing. With web scraping, an automated process used to extract data that businesses use to achieve their business goals, you can not only collect information but also use it for search and market analysis.
Many businesses take advantage of competitors' public data using web scraping and obtain this data and store it in another storage partition for later analysis. Although some types of web scraping are considered illegal by the cyber security laws of different countries in order to ensure the privacy of some information. Also, many website owners try to prevent web scraping and theft of their data by creating difficulties.
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Is Web Scraping Legal?
If you do not use the data obtained as a result of web scraping for unethical purposes, web scraping certainly does not become an illegal activity. Businesses have also been known to extract publicly shared data to stay competitive and get ahead of other companies. Although this method is being sued by data owners and websites, the judges certainly did not find it illegal and did not qualify it as federal hacking.
In addition to all these, the use of scraped data can sometimes cause direct or indirect copyright infringement. In this case, as in the Facebook and Power Ventures case, web scraping can be found to be illegal. So doing web scraping or using web scrapers for that is actually not illegal. Illegal situations have been revised in the last 10 years with privacy regulations such as General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
What are the Data Scraping Challenges?
While discussing whether web scraping is legal or not, we mentioned in which situations you may run into illegal problems. Apart from these, web scraping tools are known to face many different challenges. A large part of these difficulties is technical and barriers provided by the website owner. In this section, we will talk with you about bot access, IP blocking, CAPTCHA, Honeypot Traps, various web page structures, login requirements, dynamic data, and data issues from multiple sources. If you're ready, let's start.
What is a Bot Access Problem?
A robots.txt file is included in the source files of websites to manage what a web browser and a web scraper can do and set what activities are allowed. In order to access the URL address and content on the website, the robots.txt file must allow you access, if you do not have access, you will not be able to access the URL address or the content. The robots.txt file, which can communicate with search engine crawlers, will tell you which URL addresses should be accessed in order to prevent websites from getting more load.
If you want to scrape a website with a robots.txt file, the web scraper bot will check the robots.txt file to see if the content is crawlable. The information written in this file will contain information about the bot's browsing limit in order to prevent congestion on the website and not prevent other users from accessing it. The website, on the other hand, will block a web scraper after detecting it in the robots.txt file. The web page will still show up in the search results, but there will be no description at the time of it, i.e. exe files, video files, PDFs and other non-HTML files will become inaccessible. In this case, the web scraper will not be able to scrape the URL addresses and content obscured by the robots.txt file, and it will be impossible for you to automatically collect data using a web scraper bot.
What is an IP Blocking Problem?
An IP blocking issue can occur if the proxy spends more time scraping a website than necessary and anticipated. In this case, the network service's scraper will block the bot's IP address and the entire subnet. If the request is coming from the same IP address extremely frequently, the website will know that these requests came from a crawling bot. You will also not be able to scrape the website after a while, as you also leave a clear footprint where you automate HTTP/HTTPS requests during web scraping.
Website owners can also prevent an IP address from accessing data by detecting which IP addresses are scraping from binary log files based on the number and frequency of requests. It makes sense to review this rule as each website may have a different rule about allowing or blocking their data from scraping. For example, although a website may have a threshold of 100 requests per hour from the same IP address, for some websites this content may be 50.
Some countries may prohibit access to websites from a different country, in which case you may be banned depending on your geographic location. You may not be able to access many websites because your IP address indicates your location. The biggest reason for this situation may be that a government, business, or organization imposes some sanctions, such as imposing restrictions on accessing websites. At the same time, a large part of these restrictions is measured to prevent hacking and phishing attacks.
What is a CAPTCHA Problem?
CAPTCHA, a fully automated public Turing test to understand Computers and Humans Apart, has questions and some puzzles that humans can easily solve but web scraper bots cannot easily solve. Since bots cannot solve these puzzles, it is also possible to characterize them as a kind of website security measure that separates humans from bots. In addition, CAPTCHA prevents bots from creating fake accounts and sending spam messages to the registration website. In addition to all these benefits, it prevents web scrapers from purchasing large numbers of tickets to resell and on the black market, it also prevents these bots from making false registrations for free events.
When using CAPTCHA, also prevents bots from making false and inaccurate comments. CAPTCHA, which also prevents spamming on message boards, contact forms or review sites, identifies bots better than other systems and blocks bots from accessing websites, so it's a serious risk for web scraping. However, there are also many CAPTCHA solver services you can use to constantly scrape, avoid any obstacles, bypass the CAPTCHA test, and allow bot access. While these solver services will help you bypass CAPTCHA blocks and allow you to collect data unhindered, all of this will slow down the web scraping process.
What Is The Honeypot Traps Problem?
Honeypots, which describe and see themselves as a vulnerable system targeted by attackers on the internet, can be software and networks, as well as servers, routers, or high-value applications. Honeypots, which we can define as any source, can be operated by any computer in the network. The purpose of these applications is to deliberately present themselves as compromised on the network so that attackers can exploit them. By exploiting the Honeypot system, it is possible to detect whether the attackers are real computers on the network. In addition, these honeypots, which seem very legitimate, can manage to detect your bots through some traps.
One of the traps used by the Honeypot system is the links that scrapers can easily detect and click on, but cannot be seen by real users. In the Honeypot application, the bot will learn from the bot's code how the website is or can be evaded as soon as it is trapped. The honeypot system, which examines the code of the bot, will be able to create a stronger firewall on its own to prevent such scraping bots from logging into websites.
What is a Miscellaneous Web Page Structure Problem?
It is known that most website owners design websites both in line with the needs of their business and taking into account the needs of the users. Each website has its own page design method, and in addition to these, website developers are known to update website pages to add new features to the website and improve the user experience.
Frequent structural changes to website pages will be a serious challenge for a web scraper. The website owner should use HTML tags while designing a website, and the page is created in line with these tags. While designing web scraping tools, HTML tags and elements are used to design web scraper tools. So, if the page structure of a website changes, or even the slightest change, it becomes impossible to scrape that website using the same web scraping tool. If you want to scrape an updated web page, you will have to create a completely new web scraper.
What is the Login Requirement Problem?
Because some websites require you to log in, scraper bots may not be able to scrape the website. In this case, the web scraper bot needs some necessary credentials to scrape the website. Logging in can be easy or difficult, depending on how severe the security measures the website has put in place. Considering that the login and the sign-up page is a simple HTML form asking for username, email, and password, a bot will easily fill out this form if it has the necessary information. Immediately afterward, an HTTP POST request containing the form's data will be sent to the URL address directed by the website, and immediately after the server processes the data and checks the credentials, the bot will be able to be redirected to the home page.
Immediately after your login credentials are sent to the website's server, the browser will add a different diagnostic value to various requests running on other sites, so the website will know that you are the one who logged in before. However, the login requirement is not a serious challenge and is a problem that can be easily solved with the help of small codes, you can also characterize this problem as one of the stages of data collection.
What is Dynamic Data Scraping Problem?
Many businesses consider web scraping to be an important operation as they work on data. In addition, many businesses have a lot of work to do with price comparison, inventory tracking, credit scores, etc. It also needs to take advantage of real-time data. As this data is vital for many websites, it is essential for a web scraper bot to collect this real-time data as quickly as possible to help a business realize the largest capital gains possible. Web scraping tools must constantly monitor websites for changing data and have a high level of availability to scrape those websites.
What is the Problem of Data from Multiple Sources?
Data is not difficult to access as data is ubiquitous. The challenge will be to collect the data, continue this data collection and find the data in the format you want. Since it is not possible to provide these at the same time, the bot working as a web scraper should be able to extract data in the form of HTML tags or PDF format from all websites, mobile applications, and all other devices.
Each data source has its own characteristics, including social data, machine data, and transaction data. For example, social data consists of data that includes customers' or users' likes, comments, shares, uploads, and people they follow, almost all social data comes from social media websites. Thanks to this data, it becomes possible for businesses to get an idea about customer behavior and attitudes and make a marketing strategy.
Machine data, on the other hand, is data that web scraper bots scrape from equipment, sensors, and weblogs that examine user behavior. Data in this subset of data can be output from real-time devices such as medical equipment, surveillance cameras, and satellites, and such data is increasing day by day.
When you want to review transaction data, you see daily purchases, invoices, warehousing, and deliveries. This data will give you more information about the buying habits of your customers or your competitors' customers and will give you a chance to make smart decisions.
Scrape.do is a web scraping service provider. Web scraping is about crawling and extracting data from other websites to extract mining information or data in bulk. We have extensive experience developing scrapers and information retrieval systems. Our team can provide a range of services including returning IP addresses that protect your IP address, CAPTCHA solution to help you avoid spamming issues, and more. With our monthly plans, we offer affordable prices so you can get the maximum value.