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Vejune Tamuliunaite

Jan 14, 2021 7 min read

As the cybersecurity industry faces multiple challenges, defenders and devious threat actors are constantly trying to outsmart each other. Every day hackers exploit stolen credentials for accounts, such as bank systems or streaming services. According to recent research, more than 15 billion credentials are in circulation in cybercriminal marketplaces, including the dark web. 

Gathering data on possible digital threats is more relevant than ever before.  In order to streamline security operations and mitigate risk, cybersecurity companies need to monitor numerous websites, harvest data from multiple sources and analyze large volumes of intelligence. While gaining a broader perspective of threats is especially beneficial, screening multiple targets can be challenging and requires prior knowledge and research.

This article will outline what cyber threat intelligence is and how web scraping can power up gathering data for cybersecurity operations. We will also review the most common challenges and data acquisition methods, including our all-in-one tool Real-Time Crawler, that outmaneuver those issues. 

Why do companies need cyber threat intelligence?

While harmful events in cyberspace are likely to be inevitable, security companies can still reduce the risks by monitoring all data breaches and mitigating those attacks. 

Cyber threat intelligence is the knowledge gathered, processed, and analyzed to comprehend a threat actor’s capabilities, targets, and motives. It allows companies to get ahead of the attacker’s next move and extend their visibility, for instance, screen sensitive content, like bank numbers, or immediately respond to fake social media accounts. 

Rooted in data, cyber threat intel benefits companies of all sizes by providing context, enabling them to respond faster to incidents, and making proactive security decisions.

Several benefits of collecting cyber threat intelligence are:

  • It allows security experts to better comprehend the current threat landscape, as well as the threat actor’s motives and techniques.
  • Helps companies to monitor their sensitive content and expand the visibility of its use.
  • It empowers business technology executives, such as CIOs or CTOs, to enhance high-level security processes, save resources, and make wise decisions that convert into business value.

Like with most things of greater importance, collecting web data for cybersecurity can be a challenging task. Depending on the objectives, security experts tend to look through social media, specific forums, and web data sources. Finding quality information that is reliable and relevant to further analysis requires professional know-how and resources. Soon we will overview how to gather web data efficiently for cybersecurity by implementing web scraping operations into security projects.

Web scraping for cybersecurity

Cybersecurity companies protect their client organizations from online threats by collecting, monitoring, and analyzing web data. No need to say that security experts have automated these processes and use web scrapers that allow them to gather large volumes of data. Yet, these operations may be demanding and have several challenges. 

Scraping multiple targets: challenges

There are several things to keep in mind when screening multiple pages for cybersecurity:

Large scale operations

Running a heavy-duty data acquisition project may require extensive resources: professional know-how, financial, and time. It is essential to estimate in advance what your objectives and targets are to find the best solution for the project and optimize the resources. We shall overview the possible scenarios next in this article. 

Diverse targets

After setting the goals and objectives, the next step is to start data acquisition. It is best to harvest web data from various internal and external sources, like records of past threat responses, relevant forums, news sources, publicly available information on social media, and the dark web. Due to the complexity of targets, scraping diverse pages requires in-depth technical knowledge and prior experience. It mostly depends on the scale of a project. However, such operations involve a dedicated expert or a team of developers.

Most websites apply diverse anti-bot measures, which can result in blocking your IP address. Another common issue when scraping is dealing with CAPTHAs – Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart. IP blocks and CAPTHAs on multiple web pages may be a real challenge and slow down the whole operation. 

Quality data

Reliable web data may be hard to get. Gathering unstructured data from various internal and external sources calls for additional efforts in the next data analysis stage. While credential leaks might be shared in different file formats, the utilized web crawler must parse data to match it later with your internal information. Implementing the right solutions at the data gathering stage will ease the latter steps – data processing and analysis. 

Proxies are essential for most web scraping projects

Web scraping solutions for cybersecurity

While there are many data acquisition methods, some cybersecurity companies may decide to build an in-house web scraper. In such cases, they need reliable proxies to power up scraping operations and overcome multiple challenges. 

If you are interested in how to build an internal web scraper with Python, we have covered this topic in another article. Also, watch our easy-to-follow video tutorial on building a web scraper with Python

Choosing the right proxies

Depending on your needs and objectives, you should consider which proxy type will help you accomplish those goals and get the relevant data. Among many types of proxies, these are the main ones:

Datacenter proxies. These proxies are most appreciated for their stability, exceptional speed, and performance. It is important to note that despite their cost-efficiency, datacenter proxies could be easier to get blocked by certain websites. Still, they are a great option for operations that do not require scraping the same target with multiple requests or a maximum amount of geo-locations. Oxylabs’ Datacenter Proxies offers the largest dedicated proxy IP pool (2M+) in the market with high uptime.

Residential proxies. Due to their possession of genuine IP addresses, residential proxies ensure human-like scraping and the ability to outsmart anti-bot measures. Our Residential Proxies offer 100M+ residential IPs in 195 locations around the world. Besides extremely flexible geo-locations coverage, these proxies are especially valuable for dealing with IP blocks and harvesting web data from the most challenging sources. 

Understanding the differences between these proxy types may allow you to exploit the best result. Moreover, choosing to use a mix of residential and datacenter proxies might be a go-to choice for the most efficient web scraping experience. 

All-in-one solution for screening multiple targets

Building and using an internal web scraper can be incredibly challenging, as well as require technical knowledge and continuous upkeep. What is more, delivering quality results is another challenge that complicates the matter. For this reason, there are ready-to-use web scraping solutions that can facilitate your cybersecurity projects without additional resources or infrastructure. 

Oxylabs’ web scraper Real-Time Crawler is specifically created to gather publicly available data from the most challenging websites and market-leading search engines. 

Besides many benefits, these are especially useful when scraping multiple targets for cybersecurity:

  • Offers 100% success rates by gathering publicly available data from most websites without getting blocked.
  • With the support of a 102+ IPs proxy pool, Real-Time Crawler allows access to geo-restricted data. 
  • Real-Time Crawler is ideal for large-scale projects that require collecting and processing heavy-duty data from multiple sources.
  • This tool helps to reduce costs: our clients pay only for successfully delivered results. 
  • It delivers structured data in JSON format.
  • It also includes Proxy Rotator for effective coping with CAPTCHAs and managing IP blocks.
  • Real-Time Crawler needs zero maintenance: it handles website changes, IP blocks, and takes care of proxy management. 
Oxylabs’ Real-Time Crawler is especially useful when scraping multiple targets

Wrapping up

While cybercrimes are an inevitable part of the digital universe, we have to find the best solutions to propel security forward. One of the many ways is proactive web monitoring and collecting cyber threat intelligence of possible attacks and their actors. This is where web scraping comes to play and fuels the need for extended visibility and efficient data collection. Choosing the right solution can help companies save resources and make data-fueled decisions.

If you are interested in web scraping for cybersecurity, read our article on “Proxies for Cybersecurity Solutions.” And if you consider which solution meets your business needs, do not hesitate and contact our sales team for further advice and assistance. 

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About Vejune Tamuliunaite

Vejune Tamuliunaite is a Copywriter at Oxylabs with a passion for testing her limits. After years of working as a scriptwriter, she turned to the tech-side and is fascinated by being at core of creating the future. When not writing in-depth articles, Vejune enjoys spending time in nature and watching classic sci-fi movies. Also, she probably could tell the Star Wars script by heart.

All information on Oxylabs Blog is provided on an "as is" basis and for informational purposes only. We make no representation and disclaim all liability with respect to your use of any information contained on Oxylabs Blog or any third-party websites that may be linked therein. Before engaging in scraping activities of any kind you should consult your legal advisors and carefully read the particular website's terms of service or receive a scraping license.

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