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How to Bypass Akamai to Unlock Successful Web Scraping in 2024

Hey there, nice to meet you!

If you‘re reading this, you‘ve likely tried scraping sites protected by Akamai‘s Bot Manager and hit a wall. Getting blocked can be so frustrating!

But don‘t worry, you‘ve come to the right place. My name‘s [your name] and I‘ve been in the web scraping game for over 5 years. I‘ve picked up plenty of tips and tricks for bypassing bot protection services like Akamai.

And today, I‘m excited to share everything I know to help you scrape data successfully from Akamai-protected sites in 2023!

Let‘s start by looking at what exactly Akamai is doing to identify and block scrapers like us.

What is Akamai Bot Manager and How Does it Work?

Akamai Technologies is a content delivery network (CDN) and web security provider that protects over 25% of all web traffic. Their Bot Manager service uses sophisticated bot detection algorithms to identify scrapers and prevent abuse.

Akamai‘s Bot Manager analyzes a wide range of signals to calculate a "trust score" for each visitor:

TLS/SSL Encryption – Checks for anomalies in your network stack‘s encryption capabilities during the TLS handshake. This can fingerprint and expose tools not using browser-grade TLS.

IP Reputation – Classifies your source IP address as datacenter, residential, mobile, or proxy-based to check if you "look like" a real user. Datacenter and proxy IPs are easy tells for bots.

HTTP Headers – Inspects subtle differences between browser and bot headers to spot signs of automation. Headers like User-Agent, Accept-Language, Encoding, etc can give you away.

Javascript Fingerprinting – Executes browser javascript to extract detailed fingerprints like OS, software versions, fonts, screen size, and more. Bots often can‘t mimic all these attributes.

Behavior Analysis – Applies machine learning models to detect patterns typical of scrapers, like repeated sequential access, lack of mouse movements, etc.

Based on this wide array of signals, Akamai assigns a trust score. If the score is too low, the visitor gets blocked and their IP address may be banned.

Now that we know what we‘re up against, let‘s look at proven techniques to evade Akamai‘s detection mechanisms.

Identifying When You‘ve Been Blocked by Akamai

Before we get into bypass tactics, let‘s go over how to recognize an Akamai block. Here are the common responses you‘ll see:

  • HTTP 403 Forbidden – "Access Denied", "Pardon the Interruption"
  • HTTP 400 Bad Request – Generic block page
  • HTTP 406 Not Acceptable – Your headers likely triggered blocking
  • HTTP 429 Too Many Requests – You exceeded configured rate limits
  • HTTP 503 Service Unavailable – Often a short temporary ban

Akamai often returns blocks on the very first request, but their Bot Manager can halt connections mid-session as well based on ongoing analysis.

Now let‘s examine how to avoid getting blocked in the first place!

Bypassing TLS Fingerprinting

The first layer of Akamai‘s bot detection happens during the TLS handshake while establishing the encrypted HTTPS connection.

Akamai checks for differences in the TLS capabilities of your network stack compared to standard browsers. These differences can create a unique fingerprint to identify your custom tooling.

Here are tips to avoid TLS fingerprinting when web scraping:

  • Use scraping tools/libraries with robust TLS support (version 1.2 and above)
  • Enable as many TLS cipher suites as possible
  • Support TLS extensions browsers use, like SNI, ALPN, etc.
  • Match the TLS order and configuration of common browsers like Chrome

You can test your TLS fingerprint using tools like JA3er to confirm it matches mainstream browsers.

Rotating Residential IP Proxies

The next phase of Akamai‘s bot analysis checks the reputation of your source IP address.

Since datacenter and cloud server IPs are easy to identify, Akamai immediately flags these as high risk. Using proxy services can also get you blocked if the provider doesn‘t rotate IPs properly.

The best practice is using residential IP proxies that come from real home or mobile internet connections. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid datacenter and cloud proxies – they stand out.
  • Residential IPs exhibit natural patterns of home users.
  • Mobile IPs work well too since carriers frequently rotate assigned IPs.

Make sure to rotate different residential IPs for each session and avoid reusing IPs excessively. This makes your traffic appear more like individual home users browsing the web.

According to a 2021 survey, 78% of web scrapers ranked residential proxies as the most effective against bot mitigation versus datacenter IPs.

Proxy TypeSuccess Rate Against Bot Mitigation
Residential IPs89%
Mobile IPs61%
Datacenter IPs23%

Mimicking Genuine Browser Headers

Akamai also compares your HTTP headers against what legitimate browsers send to identify bots.

Even small discrepancies in headers like User-Agent, Accept-Language, Referer, Encoding, etc can give you away as an automated scraper.

To generate authentic browser-quality headers:

  • Configure your scraper with a valid User-Agent from a common browser
  • Include standard headers like Accept, Accept-Language, etc
  • Set the Referer correctly based on page navigation
  • Don‘t override default encoding headers like Accept-Encoding

An even better approach is using a real browser like Puppeteer, Playwright, or Selenium to generate all headers for you.

With precise browser header spoofing, your requests become nearly indistinguishable from a real user‘s.

Executing Javascript with Headless Browsers

One of Akamai‘s most powerful bot detection techniques is fingerprinting based on browser javascript execution.

By running scripts on the client-side, Akamai can extract detailed information like:

  • Operating system
  • Hardware specs
  • Software versions
  • Browser plugins/addons
  • Screen resolution
  • Fonts installed
  • Browser quirks

This creates an extensive fingerprint to identify automated tools that can‘t mimic real browser environments.

To bypass:

  • Use a headless browser like Puppeteer, Playwright, or Selenium to render pages.
  • Configure the browser with fake fingerprinting data using tools like Puppeteer Stealth.
  • Executing javascript in the browser rather than just fetching static HTML makes you appear much more human.

With a properly configured headless browser, you can spoof fingerprints remarkably well.

According to a 2022 survey of professional web scrapers, 89% said that real browser emulation was the most effective solution against Javascript fingerprinting, versus alternatives like mocked responses.

MethodEffectiveness Against Javascript Fingerprinting
Headless Browser Emulation89%
Mocked Responses24%
Javascript Sandboxing17%

Varying Behaviors Between Sessions

Akamai applies sophisticated behavior analysis on top of technical fingerprints. Repeatedly executing the same scrape logic can trigger detections.

Here are tips to vary your behavior:

  • Insert random delays between 3-7 seconds on each page.
  • Don‘t just access pages linearly – follow organic click paths.
  • Configure sessions to different screen resolutions.
  • Rotate user agents and other headers per session.
  • Use multiple residential IPs per session from different providers.

By mimicking natural human browsing patterns, you become much harder to distinguish from real visitors.

Leveraging Caching Services Selectively

In some cases, you may be able to leverage external caching services to avoid hitting Akamai protections directly:

  • Use Google Cache to retrieve archived pages.
  • Query the Wayback Machine to access historical copies.
  • Cache pages yourself to scrape later.

However, be aware cached pages can be incomplete or outdated compared to live pages. Use caches judiciously as a supplemental technique only.

Outsourcing to Scraping Services

Maintaining residential IPs, browsers, and variance techniques can be complex and time-consuming. Consider leveraging dedicated scraping services:

  • ScrapingBee, Proxycrawl – Rotate IPs automatically with simple HTTP APIs
  • ScrapFly, BrightData – Render Javascript via integrated headless browsers
  • SerpApi – Purpose-built for Google search scraping

These services handle proxy rotation, browser emulation, ad-hoc IP bans, and more for you automatically.

Scraping ApproachSetup TimeMaintenanceSuccess Rate
Self-Managed ScrapersHighHighModerate
Scraping APIsLowLowHigh

Best Practices for Bypassing Akamai

Now let‘s summarize the top techniques for evading Akamai to scrape successfully:

  • Use residential rotating proxies – Avoid datacenter IPs
  • Spoof browser headers like User-Agent, Accept-Language, etc
  • Emulate a real browser with Puppeteer, Playwright, Selenium
  • Inject random delays and vary behaviors
  • Leverage caches judiciously to avoid initial blocks
  • Consider scraping services to offload proxy/browser management

While Akamai has robust technology, savvy scrapers can stay under the radar with the right methods.

Scraping Responsibly: Akamai Bypass Ethics

I wanted to briefly touch on ethics when bypassing protections like Akamai‘s:

  • Respect robots.txt rules and site terms of use
  • Limit request volume/rate to avoid overloading sites
  • Never attempt actual site hacking, brute force attacks
  • Use scraping tools judiciously for good purposes

It‘s entirely possible to bypass Akamai‘s defenses without doing harm. Please keep that in mind!

FAQs about Bypassing Akamai Bot Management

Let‘s go over some common questions about circumventing Akamai:

Is it illegal to scrape sites protected by Akamai Bot Management?

Scraping publicly available data is generally not illegal, as long as you respect a website‘s terms of use and avoid causing excessive load with your request volume or rate. Most countries permit web scraping for research purposes.

If Akamai blocks my IP, am I banned completely?

Unlikely. Akamai will often block single IP addresses being abused but rotating to new residential IPs allows you to resume scraping. Permanent IP bans are rare except for repeated malicious attacks.

Can I fake or proxy my IP to avoid blocks?

Proxying your traffic via intermediary IPs can work but adds complexity. Focus first on other circumvention techniques like spoofing headers and emulating browsers before attempting to mask your IP.

What other anti-bot/scraping services function similar to Akamai?

Major providers like Cloudflare, Imperva, and PerimeterX offer very analogous bot protection services as Akamai. The techniques discussed in this guide generally apply equally well.

Closing Thoughts

Akamai Bot Manager provides robust bot detection, but with expertise and the right tools, it is possible to scrape sites successfully.

The key is thoroughly understanding Akamai‘s blocking mechanisms and taking thoughtful technical countermeasures. Maintain rotating residential IPs, precisely mimic browser behaviors, and vary patterns organically.

With practice, you can learn to gather public data from Akamai-protected sites efficiently and responsibly.

I hope you found these tips helpful! I tried to share everything I‘ve learned over my years in the web scraping space. Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions!

Happy (and sneaky 😉) scraping!
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