Web scraping is not the most popular way to retrieve someone else’s data and information, but with an increase in theft and popular bot-type identity theft, web scraping is growing. But, what is it? And how does it affect you?
What is Scraping?
Web scraping, also known as web harvesting and web-data extraction is an online technique of extracting, or stealing, information from websites. Often, these software programs will mimic the way humans browse the World Wide Web by either using a low level HTTP, or embedding a common web browser. Scraping is a common form of data theft not often defended against by businesses and companies.
How does Scraping Affect the Consumer?
So, scraping steals and replicates data from other websites. Sometimes this data is used for the purpose of reproducing web content, while other times the data stolen is to be used as a more malicious tool.
One way scraping can affect you directly is when the data stolen from a website is used to “spoof” sites in order to trick people into entering their personal information and login credentials. In an extreme way, imagine a banking site being scraped, with that data used to start a new site which mimics the features of the banking site. If you were to enter your username and password, you may have just given away your financial information, putting you, and other users at further risk.
Luckily, most companies with high-sensitivity information such as financial institutions put a lot of effort into content scraping and harvesting protection.
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Content Scraping Protection for Blog Owners.
Let’s face it, if you are a good writer and publish article frequently, there is a good chance the information you’ve posted will be all over the Internet within a matter of days, often hours. Have you ever scoured the web for an article on a particular current event? Chances are you’ve noticed the same article published over and over by multiple news agencies.
This is often due to scraping. One of the bigger issues to you, as the blog owner, is losing your ability to compete on the Internet against scraping. It happens that the original location of the article or blog is ranked lower in search engines than those sites scraping from others. If you feel you have been a victim of web harvesting you may deem it necessary to implement anti-scraping methods.
Below are five ways to help protect your site from scraping.
- Ping when you publish: By pinging search engines such as Google and Internet explorer you are notifying search engines and RSS site-updating services of your post which ensures your content will be indexed before any sites that are using your content.
- Contact the scraping blog owner: While this may seem a bit on the aggressive side, it sometimes happens that the person using your post is human and doesn’t realize what they are doing is wrong. It is possible by simply contacting the blog that your post could be removed.
- Include links to other posts on your blog: You can be a bit sneaky here by making sure the pages on your site link back to you. Why does this work? If someone scrapes from your site and post to theirs, they may just link back to your site. In this case it benefits you. Of course, it’s a long shot, but why not try?
- Only publish the summary of your post: By publishing only the summary of your blog post on your site it is possible that scrapers will grab only the summary. When someone clicks on the summary it will link right back to your blog.
- File a DMCA complaint: A Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint can help to stop any copyright infringement on the web. In addition, you can request that Google and other search engines remove content from its index.
Being a good writer can mean more than just becoming popular. It can mean losing your articles and blogs to other blogs who post indiscriminately from web content they’ve scraped. With the tips above, you can curtail this theft as well as build your own blog ranking.