This article has been contributed by Manthan Koolwal, Founder of Scrapingdog.
While web scraping is an essential tool for many business holders and has changed and transformed the scenario of collecting data, there are certain drawbacks attached to the term. One must understand that such tools can only be beneficial when used ethically.
Different web scraping tools and APIs offer a similar facility for web scraping and is not an illegal practice itself. But unfortunately, there are some risks involved in the long run.
If you are a company using content scraping, you must be aware of both its pros and cons and also the risks involved.
In this article we have covered every necessary detail about content or web scraping and whether is it dangerous or not.
Content Scraping – Dangerous or not?
As mentioned earlier, data scraping is not in itself an illegal practice and there are many cloud providers which offer different web scraping tools to do the job correctly. You might find different web scraping API tools that are automated in nature and efficiently helps you to scrape the needed data ethically.
While this process has helped businesses over time to easily get relevant and real-time information quickly, its usage is not restricted to such beneficial purposes.
Just like any other life-changing smart technology solution has both its pros and cons, content scraping faces the same dilemma. It depends on the user interacting with the technology which determines whether it is useful or dangerous.
Similarly, Data Scraping might be used for illegal practices as well and involves the risks of losing safety and the security of personal information. When the content is scraped off from a website with private features without their permission, it is considered illegal and can be dangerous.
Generally, to access and abuse the personal information accumulated. Most of the time you might not be able to manifest this illegal practice for a long time. By the time someone abuses your data you might already have forgotten about it.
How to Protect Yourself from Illegal Web Scraping?
It is important to understand that there is a certain type of risk involved every time you share any information online. Thus, as a user of the website, you must carefully manage what information you share about yourself on that website.
You must check for websites that offer regular privacy checks for your safety and only engage with such portals that can assure privacy in whatever you share. Ultimately the responsibility lies in your hand regarding what you share about yourself and how you manage it.
However, when your data is available on your webpage and someone collecting it won’t be an illegal activity. As it is meant to be public for a reason. Right?
How Website Owners and Builders Can Protect Themselves From Content Scraping?
In the case of website owners and builders, some technical tricks can be applied to secure your content. But before that, you must keep in mind that everything visible and accessible to your users is also visible to scraping bots.
Strategies To Prevent Illegal Content Scraping
Website owners and builders can adopt the below-mentioned strategies to ensure and prevent any malicious or illegal content scraping attacks.
Check for visitors with similar IP addresses
The easiest trick you can adopt to recognize a scraping attempt is by checking a high number of requests sent to your website from a single IP address. You can either block or restrict the suspicious IP address so that they cannot access the content any longer.
Regularly changing your HTML will restrict and confuse scrapers from conducting any malicious activities on your website. This is an effective method that forces them to switch from your website. However, the strategy could be quite confusing for the developers as well.
Using technical tools
The use of CAPTCHAs and lots of media files can also help you successfully protect yourself from unwanted content scraping attacks.
Employing bot prevention software
You might even opt for abort prevention software that will help you restrict and analyze such web scripting bots. They usually conduct a deep behavioral analysis to pinpoint bat bots and prevent them from illegal content scraping.
Even after using these techniques, you must ensure that you need to take action against such data scribbles and warn them against the process. This will further forbid them lawfully to pursue such conduct.
Future of Content Scraping
Content scraping poses a challenging future for its exceptional advantages and disadvantages. On the one end, the process of content scraping has helped many business owners in developing and progressing rapidly.
While in the other case it leverages web scraping bots, cybercriminals, hackers, and spammers to effortlessly steal whatever pieces of content they want. This creates a dilemma in the use of such a technology and is a growing challenge for website owners and users equally.
The process could indeed be dangerous when used in the wrong manner, yet it possesses great potential for businesses that use it ethically. The data scraped through the websites that encourage such functions can help business owners to get a detailed insight into the relevant data efficiently.
When the manual process required a huge input of cost and time, the automated process of web scraping has efficiently made the process much quicker and faster.
Thus, we cannot judge the power of technology based on the user and his intention of using it. Any technology dedicated towards development and growth can contribute significantly to the right hands.
In the future, we hope for the introduction of better content scraping tools that can effectively help business owners to access the data legally. Also, there must be the adoption of different techniques that efficiently restrict such malicious practices by recognizing them initially.
Content scraping is a practice that continues to raise some eyebrows, because of its diversified nature. But the user needs to understand that it is not the technology that is right or wrong in itself. Rather, web scraping is a legal practice that has successfully transformed the entire process of data collection.
Businesses have efficiently scraped the data legally through different web pages as per the requirements and used the relevant information for a detailed analysis and other similar functions. The usage of different web scraping APIs has successfully aided the process and business owners to connect the relevant data efficiently.
So, it is not the process of content scraping that is harmful or risky for any business, rather, it might help you to smartly extract or retrieve your data effectively. The data collected or scraped through different sites can further be utilized for meaningful business activities.
You can predict, forecast, or optimize your entire business strategy based on the insights of such valuable information accumulated. Just keep the protocols and legal formats while conducting content scraping and you are good to go.
What is a content scrape and the term "scrapping" used for?
Content scraping or web scrapping is a process in which a bot scrapes some or complete data from different websites without their owner's wish or permission.
How does content scraping work?
Content Scrapping involves, scrapping data or part of any data and making sense of them, and publishing them somewhere else.
What are some best tools for Content Scrapping?
Some best tools for content scrapping are:
- Scraper API