Akamai is one of the online security services you’ll likely face when web scraping. Its advanced WAF measures protect websites from bots to avoid Denial of Service (DoS) and Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks, for example.
Unfortunately, that also means your scraper won’t be able to access and extract the information you need. However, there are specific techniques to fortify your scraper and bypass Akamai, and we’ll show you how to do that!
But first, we need to understand how Akamai protects websites better.
What Is Akamai and How It Works
Akamai is a content delivery network (CDN) that offers websites cloud security and web performance optimization services. Its Bot Manager uses Machine Learning and behavioral analysis to identify and stop real-time automated threats.
By combining various active and passive techniques, Akamai can accurately detect and block malicious traffic while allowing legitimate requests to pass through. Here are some examples:
- IP reputation analysis: Akamai checks the IP addresses of incoming traffic for suspicious characteristics based on their ISP, reputation history, and geolocation.
- Botnet detection: The security service maintains a database of IPs associated with bots, so if your IP is on the list, it’ll automatically get flagged and blocked.
- Behavioral analysis: Akamai monitors users’ interactions with the site to detect patterns consistent with bot behavior**.**
- CAPTCHAs: These challenges are designed to be easy for humans to solve, but not so much for a bot. It’s one of the most efficient and widely used anti-bot measures that appears when traffic is suspicious.
- Browser fingerprinting: Some browser characteristics may give you away when accessing an Akamai-protected website.
Akamai Bot Manager uses a mix of client and server-side detection techniques to ensure optimal results. While the former is difficult to address, you can upgrade your scraper to fly under the radar of its client-side security measures.
Let’s see more about that!
How to Bypass Akamai
To bypass Akamai, you can employ several reliable practices to avoid suspicion. Here are several examples:
WAF Scraping API
ZenRows is a WAF scraping API that can gain access to any Akamai-protected website thanks to its advanced anti-bot bypass toolkit.
Randomize HTTP Headers
If you use the same set of headers for numerous requests, you’ll inevitably trigger Akamai’s suspicion. That’s why you need to change them, but that also requires a lot of caution, as incomplete or mismatching headers can be just as harmful to your scraping process.
Akamai detects sensor data, like your browser vendor and data, processing times, screen size, etc. You can mask those, but be careful not to use random values as these data points are usually related. For example, you shouldn’t make the inner window bigger than the outer.
Use Premium Rotating Proxies
A reliable set of premium proxies is the only way to avoid IP blocks and botnet detection. The free alternatives aren’t safe as Akamai maintains a database with known datacenter IPs and prevents their access. That means you need a more professional solution to be able to get around the firewall. Paid solutions provide residential IPs that won’t raise any suspicion, so this is a must to be able to extract the data you’re interested in. Fortunately, there are some good providers out there for affordable rates.
Abide by the Rules in the robots.txt
Most websites have a robots.txt file that clearly outlines the sections that can and can’t be accessed or scraped. If your attempt to extract data is blocked by it, your bot will likely get flagged. Consequently, Akamai can detect a pattern in your behavior and block your requests eventually.
Use Headless Browsers
A good headless browser, like Selenium, can help you efficiently mimic human behavior. They automate tasks like filling out forms and clicking buttons, so you don’t need to do it manually.
However, you should keep a few things in mind. Headless browsers have automation markers that Akamai quickly detects. That’s why you should combine them with Stealth plugins to mask these properties. Additionally, be sure your scraper won’t follow invisible links to avoid falling into a honeypot trap.
On the other hand, if you reverse engineer the challenge, you’ll obtain valuable information that will help you easily bypass Akamai. Let’s see roughly how the process goes:
- Mask your sensor data with the help of tools like Puppeteer Stealth.
- Obtain and set cookies to avoid continuous challenges.
While that will solve your problem, it does require a lot of time, effort, and resources. Fortunately, there’s a better way to go about bypassing Akamai.
Additionally, you can use tried-and-tested techniques like headless browsers and premium rotating proxies to avoid raising any red flags. However, you can save yourself a lot of trouble using a ready-made custom solution like ZenRows.
This web scraping tool comes with advanced features that can help you go around any WAF. And the best part is you only need to make a single API call to get all the data you want. Sign up and get 1,000 free API credits to try it out.
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