Wyoming  Web Scraping

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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Why is a Web scraping service better than Scraping tools

Why is a Web scraping service better than Scraping tools

Web scraping has been making ripples across various industries in the last few years. Newer businesses can employ web scraping to gain quick market insights and equip themselves to take on their competitors. This works like clockwork if you know how to do the analysis right. Before we jump into that, there is the technical aspect of web scraping. Should your company use a scraping tool to get the required data from the web? Although this sounds like an easy solution, there is more to it than what meets the eye. We explain why it’s better to go with a dedicated web scraping service to cover your data acquisition needs rather than going by the scraping tool route.

Cost is lowered

Although this might come as a surprise, the cost of getting data from employing a data scraping tool along with an IT personnel who can get it done would exceed the cost of a good subscription based web scraping service. Not every company has the necessary resources needed to run web scraping in-house. By depending on a Data service provider, you will save the cost of software, resources and labour required to run web crawling in the firm. Besides, you will also end up having more time and less worries. More of your time and effort can therefore go into the analysis part which is crucial to you as a business owner.

Accessibility is high with a service

Multifaceted websites make it difficult for the scraping tools to extract data. A good web scraping service on the other hand can easily deal with bottlenecks in the scraping process when it may arise. Websites to be scraped often undergo changes in their structure which calls for modification of the crawler accordingly. Unlike a scraping tool, a dedicated service will be able to extract data from complex sites that use Ajax, Javascript and the like. By going with a subscription based service, you are doing yourself the favour of not being involved in this constant headache.

Accuracy in results

A DIY scraping tool might be able to get you data, but the accuracy and relevance of the acquired data will vary. You might be able to get it right with a particular website, but that might not be the case with another. This gives uncertainty to the results of your data acquisition and could even be disastrous for your business. On the other hand, a good scraping service will give you highly refined data which is in a ready to consume form.

Outcomes are instant with a service

Considering the high resource requirements of the web scraping process, your scraping tool is likely to be much slower than a reputed service that has got the right infrastructure and resources to scrape data from the web efficiently. It might not be feasible for your firm to acquire and manage the same setup since that could affect the focus of your business.

Tidying up of Data is an exhausting process

Web scrapers collect data into a dump file which would be huge in size. You will have to do a lot of tidying up in this to get data in a usable format. With the scraping tools route, you would be looking for more tools to clean up the data collected. This is a waste of time and effort that you could use in much better aspects of your business. Whereas with a web scraping service, you won’t have to worry about cleaning up of the data as it comes with the service. You get the data in a plug and use format which gives you more time to do better things.

Many sites have policies for data scraping

Sometimes, websites that you want to scrape data from might have policies discouraging the act. You wouldn’t want to act against their policies being ignorant of their existence and get into legal trouble. With a web scraping service, you don’t have to worry about these. A well-established data scraping provider will definitely follow the rules and policies set by the website. This would mean you can be relieved of such worries and go ahead with finding trends and ideas from the data that they provide.

More time to analyse the data

This is so far the best advantage of going with a scraping service rather than a tool. Since all the things related to data acquisition is dealt by the scraping service provider, you would have more time for analysing and deriving useful business decisions from this data. Being the business owner, analysing the data with care should be your highest priority. Since using a scraping tool to acquire data will cost you more time and effort, the analysis part is definitely going to suffer which defies your whole purpose.

Bottom line

It is up to you to choose between a web scraping tool and a dedicated scraping service. Being the business owner, it i s much better for you to stay away from the technical aspects of web scraping and focus on deriving a better business strategy from the data. When you have made up your mind to go with a data scraping service, it is important to choose the right web scraping service for maximum benefits.

Source: https://www.promptcloud.com/blog/web-scraping-services-better-than-scraping-tools

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

ERP Data Conversions - Best Practices and Steps

ERP Data Conversions - Best Practices and Steps

Every company who has gone through an ERP project has gone through the painful process of getting the data ready for the new system. The process of executing this typically goes through the following steps:

(1) Extract or define

(2) Clean and transform

(3) Load

(4) Validate and verify

This process is typically executed multiple times (2 - 5+ times depending on complexity) through an ERP project to ensure that the good data ends up in the new system. If the data is either incorrect, not well enough cleaned or adjusted or loaded incorrectly in to the new system it can cause serious problems as the new system is launched.

(1) Extract or define

This involves extracting the data from legacy systems, which are to be decommissioned. In some cases the data may not exist in a legacy system, as the old process may be spreadsheet-based and has to be created from scratch. Typically this involves creating some extraction programs or leveraging existing reports to get the data in to a format which can be put in to a spreadsheet or a data management application.

(2) Data cleansing

Once extracted it normally reviewed is for accuracy by the business, supported by the IT team, and/or adjusted if incorrect or in a structure which the new ERP system does not understand. Depending on the level of change and data quality this can represent a significant effort involving many business stakeholders and required to go through multiple cycles.

(3) Load data to new system

As the data gets structured to a format which the receiving ERP system can handle the load programs may also be build to handle certain changes as part of the process of getting the data converted in to the new system. Data is loaded in to interface tables and loaded in to the new system's core master data and transactions tables.

When loading the data in to the new system the inter-dependency of the different data elements is key to consider and validate the cross dependencies. Exceptions are dealt with and go in to lessons learned and to modify extracts, data cleansing or load process in to the next cycle.

(4) Validate and verify

The final phase of the data conversion process is to verify the converted data through extracts, reports or manually to ensure that all the data went in correctly. This may also include both internal and external audit groups and all the key data owners. Part of the testing will also include attempting to transact using the converted data successfully.

The topmost success factors or best practices to execute a successful conversion I would prioritize as follows:

(1) Start the data conversion early enough by assessing the quality of the data. Starting too late can result in either costly project delays or decisions to load garbage and "deal with it later" resulting in an increase in problems as the new system is launched.

(2) Identify and assign data owners and customers (often forgotten) for the different elements. Ensure that not only the data owners sign-off on the data conversions but that also the key users of the data are involved in reviewing the selection criteria's, data cleansing process and load verification.

(3) Run sufficient enough rounds of testing of the data, including not only validating the loads but also transacting with the converted data.

(4) Depending on the complexity, evaluate possible tools beyond spreadsheets and custom programming to help with the data conversion process for cleansing, transformation and load process.

(5) Don't under-estimate the effort in cleansing and validating the converted data.

(6) Define processes and consider other tools to help how the accuracy of the data will be maintained after the system goes live.

Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?ERP-Data-Conversions---Best-Practices-and-Steps&id=7263314

Friday, 12 August 2016

Difference between Data Mining and KDD

Difference between Data Mining and KDD

Data, in its raw form, is just a collection of things, where little information might be derived. Together with the development of information discovery methods(Data Mining and KDD), the value of the info is significantly improved.

Data mining is one among the steps of Knowledge Discovery in Databases(KDD) as can be shown by the image below.KDD is a multi-step process that encourages the conversion of data to useful information. Data mining is the pattern extraction phase of KDD. Data mining can take on several types, the option influenced by the desired outcomes.

Knowledge Discovery in Databases Steps
Data Selection

KDD isn’t prepared without human interaction. The choice of subset and the data set requires knowledge of the domain from which the data is to be taken. Removing non-related information elements from the dataset reduces the search space during the data mining phase of KDD. The sample size and structure are established during this point, if the dataset can be assessed employing a testing of the info.

Databases do contain incorrect or missing data. During the pre-processing phase, the information is cleaned. This warrants the removal of “outliers”, if appropriate; choosing approaches for handling missing data fields; accounting for time sequence information, and applicable normalization of data.

Within the transformation phase attempts to reduce the variety of data elements can be assessed while preserving the quality of the info. During this stage, information is organized, changed in one type to some other (i.e. changing nominal to numeric) and new or “derived” attributes are defined.
Data mining

Now the info is subjected to one or several data-mining methods such as regression, group, or clustering. The information mining part of KDD usually requires repeated iterative application of particular data mining methods. Different data-mining techniques or models can be used depending on the expected outcome.

The final step is documentation and interpretation of the outcomes from the previous steps. Steps during this period might consist of returning to a previous step up the KDD approach to help refine the acquired knowledge, or converting the knowledge in to a form clear for the user.In this stage the extracted data patterns are visualized for further reviews.

Data mining is a very crucial step of the KDD process.

For further reading aboud KDD and data mining ,please check this link.

Source: http://nocodewebscraping.com/difference-data-mining-kdd/

Friday, 5 August 2016

Data Discovery vs. Data Extraction

Data Discovery vs. Data Extraction

Looking at screen-scraping at a simplified level, there are two primary stages involved: data discovery and data extraction. Data discovery deals with navigating a web site to arrive at the pages containing the data you want, and data extraction deals with actually pulling that data off of those pages. Generally when people think of screen-scraping they focus on the data extraction portion of the process, but my experience has been that data discovery is often the more difficult of the two.

The data discovery step in screen-scraping might be as simple as requesting a single URL. For example, you might just need to go to the home page of a site and extract out the latest news headlines. On the other side of the spectrum, data discovery may involve logging in to a web site, traversing a series of pages in order to get needed cookies, submitting a POST request on a search form, traversing through search results pages, and finally following all of the "details" links within the search results pages to get to the data you're actually after. In cases of the former a simple Perl script would often work just fine. For anything much more complex than that, though, a commercial screen-scraping tool can be an incredible time-saver. Especially for sites that require logging in, writing code to handle screen-scraping can be a nightmare when it comes to dealing with cookies and such.

In the data extraction phase you've already arrived at the page containing the data you're interested in, and you now need to pull it out of the HTML. Traditionally this has typically involved creating a series of regular expressions that match the pieces of the page you want (e.g., URL's and link titles). Regular expressions can be a bit complex to deal with, so most screen-scraping applications will hide these details from you, even though they may use regular expressions behind the scenes.

As an addendum, I should probably mention a third phase that is often ignored, and that is, what do you do with the data once you've extracted it? Common examples include writing the data to a CSV or XML file, or saving it to a database. In the case of a live web site you might even scrape the information and display it in the user's web browser in real-time. When shopping around for a screen-scraping tool you should make sure that it gives you the flexibility you need to work with the data once it's been extracted.

Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Data-Discovery-vs.-Data-Extraction&id=165396

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Scraping LinkedIn Public Profiles for Fun and Profit

Scraping LinkedIn Public Profiles for Fun and Profit

Reconnaissance and Information Gathering is a part of almost every penetration testing engagement. Often, the tester will only perform network reconnaissance in an attempt to disclose and learn the company's network infrastructure (i.e. IP addresses, domain names, and etc), but there are other types of reconnaissance to conduct, and no, I'm not talking about dumpster diving. Thanks to social networks like LinkedIn, OSINT/WEBINT is now yielding more information. This information can then be used to help the tester test anything from social engineering to weak passwords.

In this blog post I will show you how to use Pythonect to easily generate potential passwords from LinkedIn public profiles. If you haven't heard about Pythonect yet, it is a new, experimental, general-purpose dataflow programming language based on the Python programming language. Pythonect is most suitable for creating applications that are themselves focused on the "flow" of the data. An application that generates passwords from the employees public LinkedIn profiles of a given company - have a coherence and clear dataflow:

(1) Find all the employees public LinkedIn profiles → (2) Scrap all the employees public LinkedIn profiles → (3) Crunch all the data into potential passwords

Now that we have the general concept and high-level overview out of the way, let's dive in to the details.

Finding all the employees public LinkedIn profiles will be done via Google Custom Search Engine, a free service by Google that allows anyone to create their own search engine by themselves. The idea is to create a search engine that when searching for a given company name - will return all the employees public LinkedIn profiles. How? When creating a Google Custom Search Engine it's possible to refine the search results to a specific site (i.e. 'Sites to search'), and we're going to limit ours to: linkedin.com. It's also possible to fine-tune the search results even further, e.g. uk.linkedin.com to find only employees from United Kingdom.

The access to the newly created Google Custom Search Engine will be made using a free API key obtained from Google API Console. Why go through the Google API? because it allows automation (No CAPTCHA's), and it also means that the search-result pages will be returned as JSON (as oppose to HTML). The only catch with using the free API key is that it's limited to 100 queries per day, but it's possible to buy an API key that will not be limited.

Scraping the profiles is a matter of iterating all over the hCards in all the search-result pages, and extracting the employee name from each hCard. Whats is a hCard? hCard is a micro format for publishing the contact details of people, companies, organizations, and places. hCard is also supported by social networks such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and etc. for exporting public profiles. Google (when indexing) parses hCard, and when relevant, uses them in search-result pages. In other words, when search-result pages include LinkedIn public profiles, it will appear as hCards, and could be easily parsed.

Let's see the implementation of the above:

# Copyright (C) 2012 Itzik Kotler
# scraper.py is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
# it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
# the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
# (at your option) any later version.
# scraper.py is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
# but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
# GNU General Public License for more details.
# You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
# along with scraper.py.  If not, see <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.

"""Simple LinkedIn public profiles scraper that uses Google Custom Search"""

import urllib
import simplejson

BASE_URL = "https://www.googleapis.com/customsearch/v1?key=<YOUR GOOGLE API KEY>&cx=<YOUR GOOGLE SEARCH ENGINE CX>"

def __get_all_hcards_from_query(query, index=0, hcards={}):

    url = query

    if index != 0:

        url = url + '&start=%d' % (index)

    json = simplejson.loads(urllib.urlopen(url).read())

    if json.has_key('error'):

        print "Stopping at %s due to Error!" % (url)

        print json


        for item in json['items']:


                hcards[item['pagemap']['hcard'][0]['fn']] = item['pagemap']['hcard'][0]['title']

            except KeyError as e:


        if json['queries'].has_key('nextPage'):

            return __get_all_hcards_from_query(query, json['queries']['nextPage'][0]['startIndex'], hcards)

    return hcards

def get_all_employees_by_company_via_linkedin(company):

    queries = ['"at %s" inurl:"in"', '"at %s" inurl:"pub"']

    result = {}

    for query in queries:

        _query = query % company

        result.update(__get_all_hcards_from_query(BASE_URL + '&q=' + _query))

    return list(result)

Replace <YOUR GOOGLE API KEY> and <YOUR GOOGLE SEARCH ENGINE CX> in the code above with your Google API Key and Google Search Engine CX respectively, save it to a file called scraper.py, and you're ready!

To kick-start, here is a simple program in Pythonect (that utilizes the scraper module) that searchs and prints all the Pythonect company employees full names:

"Pythonect" -> scraper.get_all_employees_by_company_via_linkedin -> print

The output should be:

Itzik Kotler

In my LinkedIn Profile, I have listed Pythonect as a company that I work for, and since no one else is working there, when searching for all the employees of Pythonect company - only my LinkedIn profile comes up.
For demonstration purposes I will keep using this example (i.e. "Pythonect" company, and "Itzik Kotler" employee), but go ahead and replace Pythonect with other, more popular, companies names and see the results.

Now that we have a working skeleton, let's take its output and start crunching it. Keep in mind that every "password generation forumla" is merely a guess. The examples below are only a sampling of what can be done. There are, obviously many more possibilities and you are encouraged to experiment. But first, let's normalize the output - this way it's going to be consistent before operations are performed on it:

"Pythonect" -> scraper.get_all_employees_by_company_via_linkedin -> string.lower(''.join(_.split()))

The normalization procedure is short and simple: convert the string to lowercase and remove any spaces, and so the output should be now:


As for data manipulation, out of the box (Thanks to The Python Standard Library) we've got itertools and it's combinatoric generators. Let's start by applying itertools.product:

"Pythonect" -> scraper.get_all_employees_by_company_via_linkedin -> string.lower(''.join(_.split())) -> itertools.product(_, repeat=4) -> print

The code above will generate and print every 4 characters password from the letters: i, t, z, k, o, t, l , e, r. However, it won't cover passwords with uppercase letters in it. And so, here's a simple and straightforward implementation of a cycle_uppercase function that cycles the input letters yields a copy of the input with letter in uppercase:

def cycle_uppercase(i):
    s = ''.join(i)
    for idx in xrange(0, len(s)):
        yield s[:idx] + s[idx].upper() + s[idx+1:]

To use it, save it to a file called itertools2.py, and then simply add it to the Pythonect program after the itertools.product(_, repeat=4) block, as follows:

"Pythonect" -> scraper.get_all_employees_by_company_via_linkedin \
    -> string.lower(''.join(_.split())) \
        -> itertools.product(_, repeat=4) \
            -> itertools2.cycle_uppercase \
                -> print

Now, the program will also cover passwords that include a single uppercase letter in it. Moving on with the data manipulation, sometimes the password might contain symbols that are not found within the scrapped data. In this case, it is necessary to build a generator that will take the input and add symbols to it. Here is a short and simple generator implemented as a Generator Expression:

[_ + postfix for postfix in ['123','!','$']]

To use it, simply add it to the Pythonect program after the itertools2.cycle_uppercase block, as follows:

"Pythonect" -> scraper.get_all_employees_by_company_via_linkedin \
    -> string.lower(''.join(_.split())) \
        -> itertools.product(_, repeat=4) \
            -> itertools2.cycle_uppercase \
                -> [_ + postfix for postfix in ['123','!','$']] \
                    -> print

The result is that now the program adds the strings: '123', '!', and '$' to every generated password, which increases the chances of guessing the user's right password, or not, depends on the password :)

To summarize, it's possible to take OSINT/WEBINT data on a given person or company and use it to generate potential passwords, and it's easy to do with Pythonect. There are, of course, many different ways to manipulate the data into passwords and many programs and filters that can be used. In this aspect, Pythonect being a flow-oriented language makes it easy to experiment and research with different modules and programs in a "plug and play" manner.