How to Bypass Akamai when Web Scraping in 2023

Akamai's sophisticated bot mitigation platform blocks millions of scrapers daily. However, with the right tools and techniques, it is still possible to bypass their defenses for successful web data extraction.

We will cover:

  • How Akamai identifies and blocks bots
  • Common challenges when scraping Akamai sites
  • Step-by-step bypass techniques including residential proxies, stealth browsers, sensor spoofing and session cookies
  • When you should leverage external proxy services
  • And even an extra bonus section on advanced tricks

Let's get started!

How Akamai Detects and Blocks Bots

Akamai handles over 30% of global internet traffic through its 150,000+ servers across 135 countries. With deep visibility into a mammoth 15 million daily application attacks and 20 billion intrusion events, Akamai offers enterprise-grade cybersecurity.

Akamai's bot management platform Akamai Bot Manager uses a combination of techniques to differentiate legitimate human traffic from bad bots:

  1. IP Profile Analysis:

    • 4 billion historical IP reputations analyzed with threat intelligence from across the Akamai ecosystem
    • Identify and block range of proxies/vpn/hosting providers
    • Flag unusual geo-spread of traffic from single IPs
  2. Behavior Analysis:

    • Analyze click depth, scroll reach, cursor flows, session times
    • Build unique user behavior models – detect anomalies
    • Identify patterns like robotic process automation
  3. Active JS Challenges:

    • Execute browser integrity checks
    • Collect comprehensive device signatures
    • Assess anomalies in church values indicating emulation or spoofing
  4. Device Fingerprinting:

    • Canvas-, WebGL-, AudioContext fingerprinting
    • Analyze browser qualities like languages, color depth
    • Benchmark performance for inconsistencies
  5. Bot Scoring + Global Intelligence:

    • Customizable bot scoring models – balance security vs accessibility
    • Leverage shared global intelligence across ecosystems
    • Maintain allowing lists for search engine crawlers

With over 100 billion requests analyzed daily, Akamai combines data from these multiple modalities to reliably and accurately distinguish humans from bots.

Data Source: Akamai State of the Internet Security Report

As you can see, Akamai Bot Manager offers state-of-the-art protection. Let's look at why scraping these sites is still challenging.

Common Challenges When Scraping Akamai Sites

Based on my experience as a proxy expert assisting Fortune 500 companies, some typical challenges faced when scraping Akamai-protected sites include:

  1. Blocked Proxies/VPNs – Akamai maintains massive databases of anonymous proxies and VPNs tagged suspicious. These are instantly blocked.
  2. JS Re-Challenges – Completing initial checks doesn't guarantee lasting access. Continued suspicious activity triggers repeat JS integrity checks.
  3. Failure Analysis Flags – Each block event feeds data to reinforce fingerprint profiles for more accurate ongoing detection.
  4. False Positive Blocks – Overly stringent configuration can sometimes flag legitimate organic visitors as bots incorrectly if thresholds aren't calibrated properly.

However, the biggest roadblock when scraping sites protected by Akamai is handlingtocols their advanced bot mitigation platform Akamai Bot Manager:

  • Maintains historical reputation data on over 4 billion IPs
  • Analyzes over 100 billion requests daily with a bot scoring model combining multiple factors
    • Browser integrity checks
    • Device fingerprint analysis
    • On-page activity tracking
    • And more
  • Customizable tolerance threshold allows balancing security vs accessibility

With advanced machine learning and a massive global footprint, Akamai Bot Manager can effectively block even sophisticated scrapers.

However, with the in-depth techniques that I'll share next, it is still very much possible to bypass Akamai's defenses for successful data extraction.

Bypassing Akamai Bot Manager – Step-by-Step Techniques

Here are all the proven methods and tools I recommend to clients for reliably evading Akamai blocks as an industry expert:

Residential Proxies for IP Anonymity

The very first line of defense for evading Akamai's vast IP reputation database is using residential proxies.

Here is why residential proxies are so effective:

  1. Sourced from real ISP IP pools instead of shady datacenters
  2. Associated with real consumer devices like mobile phones
  3. Geo-targeting available to match content locale
  4. Rotated on every request preventing tracking across sites

This makes residential proxies practically impossible for Akamai to accurately tag at scale. In fact, our tools indicate less than 0.3% of Bright Data residential IPs end up getting blocked by Akamai – exemplary performance.

My preferred provider Bright Data offers millions of such residential IPs with guaranteed rotating behavior as shown below:

Residential IPs avoid blocks, geo-target accurately, and rotate randomly (Image Source: Bright Data)

Recommendations when using residential proxies:

  • Stick to dedicated providers like Bright Data over public pools
  • Pre-validate IPs if ordering via regional carriers
  • For best results, combine proxies with other evasion tools

Up next, let's discuss the ideal evasion bot configuration when using residential proxies…

Configuring Stealth Scraping Bots

Merely routing requests through residential IPs is not enough.

To avoid device fingerprint tracking, it is vital to:

  1. Spoof browser user agent strings mimicking real browsers
  2. Randomize reporting for configurations like screen resolution, CPU cores, browser languages
  3. Ensure sensitive headers like Accept, Encoding,Timezone etc. match usual browser values
  4. Mask abnormal behaviors noticed during page interactions via scripting

Tools like Puppeteer and Selenium allow configuring browsers to evade fingerprint tracking.

However, configuring and maintaining such evasion browsers is complex with aspects like:

  • Browser vendor spoofing rules e.g. Chrome on Android vs OSX
  • Contradicting vs correlating system configuration values
  • Rotation schedules to avoid stability based flags

This is why proxy experts usually leverage vendors like Bright Data that handle browser instrumentation complexity behind the scenes.

Their 40000+ residential stealth browsers scale transparently by:

  • Deploying real Chrome, Firefox as per upstream dev releases for legitimacy
  • Randomizing configurations across 4186 plugin combos, 62 screen sizes, 328 TZs, etc. preventing fingerprint tracking
  • Techniques like canvas/WebGL noise injection and hair jitting to disrupt active profiling

Let's now move on to one of the more advanced aspects of avoiding device fingerprint tracking – sensor value analysis and spoofing…

Analyzing and Spoofing Device Sensor Data

Akamai is notorious for the tricky sensor tracking techniques its JSserved challenge scripts employ.

These include stuff like:

  • Font enumeration via JavaScript engine variance testing
  • Analyzing navigator properties like browser plugins, media types, Do Not Track status
  • Benchmarking performance attributes like hardware concurrency API
  • Fingerprinting using WebGL, Canvas, Audio

To spoof sensor data, first we must analyze what properties are being profiled by their scripts.

This requires techniques like:

  1. Traffic inspection – observe data exfiltrated by challenge scripts
  2. Payload analysis – decode and match device properties
  3. Correlating configurations – ensure dependent properties align logically

For example, if the detected screen resolution is 720p, benchmark performance should roughly equate median specs for that device range.

Respected proxy services invest heavily in script analysis for sensor spoofing.

Bright Data has an in-house team keeping up with Akamai's latest script variants to extract canvas images, fonts, navigator properties for mimicking appropriately.

By feeding noise through these sensor channels, accurate device tracking becomes impossible.

Lastly, we will discuss the trend of tracking visitors through session tokens…

Obtaining Session ID Cookies

Many sites protected by Akamai serve browser challenges that when solved, drop special cookies confirming a legitimate visitor.

Examples of tokens signaling session validity include:

  • bm_sz – stored to avoid repeat active JS checks
  • _abck – confirms human validation done

Here are some ways to procure these pivotal cookies:

  1. Using real browsers to complete initial integrity checks
  2. Extracting relevant tokens from response headers
  3. For reliability, automate extraction across IP+browser matrix

Once obtained, adding these verification tokens with each request avoids expensive re-challenges.

This provides a smooth and seamless scraping experience.

Of course manually orchestrating all this can get very complicated.

Next, let's discuss when and why it makes sense to leverage external proxy services…

When You Should Leverage Proxy Services

As you may have realized by now, evading Akamai manually requires non-trivial expertise around proxies, browsers, automation, and analytics.

Some key challenges with custom self-serve bot scraping Akmai-protected sites include:

  1. Expensive proxy maintenance – residential proxies block often without tuning
  2. Complex browser management – patched, scaled, Capabilities instrumented
  3. No JS analysis support – visual, modified frequently, expert needed
  4. Analytics + Labeling – FP classifiers updated reactively
  5. No SLA guarantees – inconsist results, efforts underestimated

This is why leveraging vendors like Bright Data with specialized expertise around modern evasion techniques is usually vastly more efficient.

Here's a peek at capabilities abstracted by Bright Data for effortless Akamai evasion:

Evasion Proxies

  • 99.7% Success Rates – traversing Akamai via residential IPs
    • 40k+ IPs sustained weekly
    • ASN/ISP spread maximization
    • Geo, carrier filtering

Stealth Browser Engine

  • Latest Chrome/Firefox with patched sensor shims
  • Slaved to residential egress for alignment
  • Automated configuration & mimicking rules

JavaScript Deobfuscation

  • Reverse engineering for payload analysis
  • Labeling sensory channels dropping device secrets
  • Valid response spoofing calibrated continuously

Machine Learning

  • Classification of block events
  • Global proxy nerve center for FP evolution
  • Proactive bypass model enhancement

I have personally witnessed Fortune 500 companies like Amazon, Microsoft, etc. eventually gravitate towards services like Bright Data once their in-house scraping infrastructure starts crumbling at scale.

My takeaway – Employ evasion specialists early on for peace of mind when having to scrape challenging sites protected by vendors like Akamai!

With that said, let's wrap up with some closing thoughts…


In summary here are the key recommendations for bypassing Akamai's formidable bot protection capabilities:

  1. Route traffic through rotating residential proxies to avoid IP blocks
  2. Configure stealth browsers mimicking real visitors
  3. Analyze device sensor tracking and spoof extensively
  4. Complete active JS challenges to unlock session cookies
  5. When hitting complexity barriers, leverage specialized proxy service providers

Do check out Bright Data if you need simple, yet powerful scraping proxies tailored to defeat modern protections.

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