Scraping Kasada-protected websites
How to scrape Kasada with Playwright, Undetected Chromedriver and other tools
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During the past weeks, I’ve chatted with Dimitar Krastev of Crawlio about his recent discoveries about Kasada anti-bot software, summarized in this Linkedin post.
These notes integrate what we noticed in our previous articles, like our Anti-Detect Anti-Bot matrix or our latest post about the Bright Data Web Unblocker.
In this post, we’ll recap how we can scrape Kasada-protected websites using free and commercial tools. All the code can be found in our GitHub repository below.
What is Kasada and how it works?
Kasada is one of the newest players in the anti-bot solutions market and has some peculiar features that make it different.
You cannot identify a Kasada-protected website from Wappalyzer (probably the userbase is not so wide) but the typical behavior when browsing them is the following.
First of all, Kasada doesn’t throw any challenge in form of Captchas but the very first request to the website returns a 429 error. If this challenge is solved correctly, then the page reloads and you are redirected to the original website.
This is basically what they call on their website the Zero-Trust philosophy.
Kasada assumes all requests are guilty until proven innocent by inspecting traffic for automation with a process that’s invisible to humans.
Automated threats are detected on the first request, without ever letting requests into your infrastructure, including new bots never seen before.
To bypass these anti-bots there are usually two ways:
reverse engineering the JS challenges, deobfuscating the code
make our scrapers indistinguishable from humans browsing the web
Since the first option, while it’s great for understanding what’s happening under the hood, it’s time-consuming and does work only until the code is not changed, and always from their website, it seems that this happens frequently.
Kasada is always changing to maximize difficulty and enable long-term efficacy.
Our own proprietary interpretive language runs within the browser to deter attackers from deciphering client-side code. Resilient obfuscation levels the playing field by shifting the skillset from easy to reverse engineer JS to our own polymorphic method.
Obfuscated code and the detection logic within are randomized and change dynamically to nullify prior learnings. All communications between the client and Kasada are encrypted.
So, given that we need to make our scrapers more human-like as possible, let’s see what we can do to bypass it.
Playwright with Chrome
In our Anti-Detect Anti-Bot matrix, I’ve tested Kasada with Chrome with no success with the following setup, which has proven its reliability in the time.
Again, thanks to Dimitar and its post on the Crawlio page, I wanted to give it another try.
So I’ve modified my test scraper and reviewed the parameters used by Chrome and it worked!
I've left only a few options to disable the Chrome sandbox, the first run notice, and the automation-controlled flag, but I’ve added
This behaves like the old ‘—disable-infobars’ option, which was used to not show the notice that “Chrome is controlled by an automated test service”. I was struggling to disable it when using Playwright and finally found that in this way I could disable it.
I’ve added also the option
and the result was that I could open the first page of our target website without any trouble and infobar.
Playwright with Firefox
Another way to use Playwright to tackle Kasada is by opening a Firefox instance and loading the target website from it.
We have already seen it working in the Anti-Detect Anti-Bot matrix and the setup is pretty straightforward.
The same can be said for the Undetected Chromedriver solution. In case you don’t know what the Undetected Chromedriver is, it’s basically a Chromedriver version specifically adapted for web scraping, with all the settings and configuration set up to be almost identical to a Chrome browser used by a real person.
Without any additional setup, you can bypass Kasada’s challenge.
Playwright with GoLogin
Instead of opening a Chrome or Firefox browser, we can use GoLogin’s browser and its multiple profiles offered to bypass Kasada.
In this case, we’re going to attach the Playwright script to an open GoLogin instance but the result is the same.
Bright Data Web Unblocker
The last solution proposed it’s always a commercial one but it’s the only one that doesn’t require a headful browser.
As we have seen in its product review, the Bright Data Web Unblocker is a proxy API we can integrate into our Scrapy projects (or any other tool), and it automatically handles all the settings and features needed to bypass the Kasada challenge.
In my experience, Kasada has been a real issue for our web scraping activities until 2022, but with further studies on my side and tools and settings available, we have now plenty of options to bypass this solution.
There’s no need to say that all web scraping activities should be done ethically and all these techniques are needed to scrape only the data we are allowed to get.
In this landscape, it’s interesting to see how far this can and mouse game will still go on, at the cost of the user experiences and search engine positioning on websites heavily protected.
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