Anyone with the knowledge of data scraping or dealing with web scraping will know how often proxies get banned or blocked by websites. Irrespective of whether you are using or buying proxies to browse the Internet, watch restricted content, shop online or utilize proxies for your organization or business–it is always advisable to be careful. Any suspicious behavior or nefarious activities by other users sharing the same proxy server can lead to a server ban.
Imagine how difficult it would be for organizations or businesses that use web scraping regularly or use free proxies for their work purpose. You can easily switch to another free proxy service and continue till the website ends up blocking the new IP as well–but it is a tedious and mind-boggling process to keep switching from one server to another. Isn’t it better if you have an option to use the benefits and features of proxies but also prevent websites from banning or blocking you?
This write-up aims to help users understand the circumstances under which websites block proxies and how you can avoid a ban. Let us first dig deeper to figure out how websites identify proxies and what activities raise suspicion.
How Websites Identify or Track Proxies
The Internet is a complicated place, as contrary as it seems on the face. There is a vicious cycle going on between the websites and users collecting chunks of data from them. Every day, websites and digital platforms are enhancing their security and implementing measures to identify the real users from scrapers, automated online activities, or bots. Simultaneously, businesses or individuals into web scraping and other similar functions lookout for tools and mediums to bypass these restrictions and hide their digital footprints.
The common ways in which a website tracks user data identifies and consequently blocks an IP depends on these factors:
- Cookies–Cookies track your online activity and collect your user data for a website. If you want to browse anonymously and prevent websites from accessing your information, you need to connect to the Internet without cookies. However, many websites consider not enabling cookies as a suspicious activity.
- Unusual Requests–A sizeable amount of data transfer at a time is one of the giant red flags that websites can quickly identify. Data scraping leads to a massive amount of data collection from websites, and such unusually high online activity and URL requests can be an easy giveaway.
- Miscorrelation–Proxies mask and reroute your IP address, thus showing your online activities as requests from a different location and IP. Many websites can identify the miscorrelation between other request attributes–like a mismatch of location, time, and language with your proxy IP. This helps them identify and block users connecting via proxies.
- Bot Behavior–Some websites can also track your mouse and keyboard activity. This helps them identify whether someone connecting is a real user or an automated bot. If you are using proxies to send out bots, target sites can track them as it is difficult to simulate or replicate the mouse and keyboard behavior of a real user.
These are some common identification and tracking factors and browser performance analysis that many websites use to ban proxies, bots, and scrapers. Knowing how websites identify proxies based on your activities is a significant step in ensuring you don’t end up getting blocked or banned. So before you see an Error 404 pop up, or you end up having your proxy server blocked on a website–go through this article.
Additional Ways to Safeguard Proxies
One of the primary things to cross-check is the website policies to ensure you respect the stated terms of a website. You can easily find the Terms of Service for a website and check whether the data stored is public or copyrighted and the terms of accessing any or all data on the said website. Most websites also clearly state crawling policies in a text file on their root directory–this gives you comprehensive information about web scraping data from the said website.
Real User Agents
When you connect to the Internet, some information exchange automatically happens between the user agent and the server. Details like your software version, browser configuration, operating system, etc., become accessible by the website. Having an empty user-agent header is a big red flag for websites and is often deemed as malicious activity. An enormous number of requests from a single user agent is also identified as a sign of scraping and flagged by the target site. It is advisable to keep switching your request headers to simulate multiple user agents organically.
A website can easily track and flag multiple requests from the same IP address. It is better to keep rotating your proxies for users who are opting for proxies to scrape data. It means your IP gets switched from time to time, thus preventing suspicion from the target site. You can opt for a private proxy, time your requests with some gap in between, or use multiple proxies for the same operation.
Bots collect data at a much higher speed than real users. Hence websites can easily track such enormous traffic at a time as it raises suspicion. Bots are fast and useful but cannot simulate actual human behavior or replicate mouse and keyboard activity that many websites track. Configuring proxies in such a way that the requests made have a buffer of at least a couple of seconds between them can help you bypass this.
This article helps you understand how websites track malicious activity, identify proxies, and also ways to bypass them. You can now connect to the Internet, browse anonymously, or use proxies for data scraping without the risk of being banned or blocked.