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Screen scraping

(also web scraping, data scraping, content scraping)

Screen scraping definition

Screen scraping refers to organizations extracting data from a screen or a GUI and converting it into a format they can use for further processing. Usually, entities turn to screen scraping when they cannot find data in a readily available form, such as a database or a file. Screen scraping can help organizations in various ways, including data mining and automation of repetitive tasks. However, bad actors can also use screen scraping for malicious purposes, such as harvesting sensitive information or stealing login credentials. Screen scraping may also raise legal and ethical concerns, particularly when it involves scraping data from third-party websites without permission.

See also: Graphical user interface, data breach

Screen scraping advantages

  • Automates data extraction and increases efficiency.
  • Enables customized data extraction, providing users with relevant data only.
  • It’s quick and enables near-real-time analysis and responses.
  • It’s cheaper than manual extraction or purchasing ready-made data from third-party providers.
  • Broad coverage of websites and mobile and desktop apps.
  • It can combine multiple sources giving a comprehensive overview.

Screen scraping use cases

  • Penetration testing. Screen scraping can help organizations extract data and assess the security posture of their systems or applications.
  • Fraud detection. Organizations can benefit from screen scraping because it detects fraudulent activity.
  • Security monitoring. Companies can use screen scraping to monitor and identify security threats like access logs or error messages.
  • Incident response. Organizations can extract and analyze the data related to the incident that occurred with the aid of screen scraping.
  • Threat intelligence. Screen scraping can gather threat intelligence, such as scraping data from hacker forums or social media accounts associated with cybercriminals.