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Over 15.7 million websites use Cloudflare as primary protection against traffic and cyberattacks. However, this safety measure becomes a huge obstacle for data handling processes like scraping.
Web scraping refers to collecting information from sites and pages for various purposes. This process typically requires using special tools, which are often blocked by Cloudflare.
While it protects websites and their data, Cloudflare’s bot management solution slows down or blocks scraping—making the scraping process more challenging.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid this particular anti-scraping measure. Read on to find out how you can bypass Cloudflare for web scraping.
🔑 Key Takeaways
Cloudflare Bot Management is a security system that uses advanced technology against automated bots threatening a website’s security. It directs the traffic by sorting bots. Good bots are allowed to pass, while bad bots are blocked—in which users get the “Access Denied” error.
With Cloudflare Bot Management’s detection and blockage, websites are guaranteed to be safe against threats like bots and cyberattacks. Read on to learn how Cloudflare Bot Management protects millions of websites worldwide.
Cloudflare Bot Management uses several techniques to detect and block web scrapers. Here are some methods they use to keep websites safe:
Cloudflare Bot Management reviews IP addresses and their past activities. If Cloudflare detects malicious online activities in your history, your IP will be blocked from accessing the website.
Always protect your IP address. Once cybercriminals get this information, they can use your IP address to commit crimes in your name.
Cloudflare only allows 1200 requests per five minutes for every user. Whenever someone crosses this limit, they get blocked or asked to solve a puzzle to prove they're human.
Cloudflare collects information on users’ browsers, devices, and networks. The collected data makes a unique fingerprint corresponding to each user. Bots are unable to copy such fingerprints, so they get caught.
Cloudflare looks at the structure of requested URLs. Bots often use strange or long URLs for scraping.
There are numerous ways to bypass Cloudflare for web scraping. Most require technical skills and a broad understanding of networking concepts, but the methods listed below are straightforward.
You can evade Cloudflare Bot Management with the following techniques:
Read on to find out how each method works.
Fortified headless browsers look like the web browsers used by actual users, and using one can help you avoid Cloudflare detection. Some examples of fortified browsers are Puppeteer, Playwright, and Selenium.
Websites can detect headless browsers by checking the value of the “navigator.webdriver.” Typically, a fortified browser patches the value of “navigator.webdriver” to false, minimizing its chances of being detected while scraping.
To get past Cloudflare with a fortified headless browser, install the following tools:
Once you have secured the prerequisites, follow the steps below:
1. Go to your script file and import Selenium.
from selenium import webdriver
from selenium.webdriver.common.keys import keys
2. Configure the headless browser.
options = webdriver.ChromeOptions()
driver = webdriver.Chrome(options=options)
3. Go to the website.
4. Wait for the challenge on the Cloudflare screen.
challenge = driver.find-element-by-xpath("//div[@class='challenge-form']")
5. Solve the challenge. If it’s a CAPTCHA, use the code below to solve it:
captcha = driver.find_element_by_xpath("//img[@class='captcha-image']")
submit_button = driver.find_element_by_xpath("//button[@class='submit-button']")
6. Get the website content.
content = driver.page_source
7. Close the browser.
This is how your code should look when it all comes together:
Another method to bypass Cloudflare is directly calling the origin server. This approach requires more technical skill and can be more challenging to implement.
You can circumvent Cloudflare's CDN security protections by hitting the site server address. Below are the steps to do it:
Find the IP address of the website’s origin server. Cloudflare hides most DNS records, but some subdomains or emails might point directly to the origin server.
Use tools like cURL to send requests to the website’s IP directly. This helps bypass DNS and directly reach the origin server.
Experiment with your host file. You can tell which website matches with which IP. You can skip DNS and use the IP you picked.
Another way to dodge Cloudflare is by scraping content from Google's cached website versions. Google stores snapshots of web pages regularly, which can be accessed through its search results.
When you search on Google, it takes a cached version of the page. The cached version is on Google's server and is not directly behind Cloudflare's protections.
Accessing the cached content lets you scrape your desired data without triggering Cloudflare's anti-bot measures. To start, follow the steps below:
1. Search for the webpage you want to scrape on Google’s search engine.
2. Locate the page you want to scrape from the search results.
3. Click on the three dots beside the displayed link.
4. A pop-up will appear. Click on the Cached option in the menu:
5. With the cached version opened, use your web scraping tools to gather the necessary information.
Cached versions might not always have the updated data, and some dynamic elements may be missing. This method may not be the best for you if you’re planning on scraping updated or real-time data.
While the methods discussed above are doable, bypassing Cloudflare for web scraping is not guaranteed to be smooth. It still comes with challenges that require careful consideration to ensure successful and ethical outcomes.
You can encounter the following problems:
1. Anti-bot Measures
2. Need for Technical Skills
Bypassing Cloudflare requires technical skills and experience with web scraping tools, programming languages, and proxies.
3. Legal Concerns
While web scraping is considered legal, it can be different when dealing with sites protected by Cloudflare.
You must stay within the boundaries of the law and website terms. Some sites consider bypassing Cloudflare as unauthorized access, which can lead to legal consequences.
4. Switching IP Addresses
Cloudflare blocks IP addresses that generate automated traffic. To bypass Cloudflare, you may need to use different IP addresses that change regularly.
✅ Pro Tip
To avoid Cloudflare’s IP blocking, you can use anonymity tools like proxies and VPNs. These tools hide your IP address by making it look like every request is from a different location and IP.
Scraping data from websites protected by Cloudflare Bot Management is challenging. Headless browsers or Google cached versions may help, but remember that these methods somehow require technical skills and awareness of legal boundaries.
Always check the website’s terms and conditions before you even bypass Cloudflare.
Cloudflare might block your IP due to suspicious activity or automated behavior. However, you don’t have to worry. Multiple ways to unblock your IP address exist so you can continue browsing.
Besides Cloudflare, other known anti-bot services are Imperva, Akamai Bot Manager, ClickGuard, and Radware Bot Manager.
Scraping Cloudflare-protected pages can raise legal concerns as it could be considered unauthorized access. Always consider legal implications and follow website terms.
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