javascript – Can a website detect when you are using Selenium with chromedriver?

The Question :

418 people think this question is useful

I’ve been testing out Selenium with Chromedriver and I noticed that some pages can detect that you’re using Selenium even though there’s no automation at all. Even when I’m just browsing manually just using Chrome through Selenium and Xephyr I often get a page saying that suspicious activity was detected. I’ve checked my user agent, and my browser fingerprint, and they are all exactly identical to the normal Chrome browser.

When I browse to these sites in normal Chrome everything works fine, but the moment I use Selenium I’m detected.

In theory, chromedriver and Chrome should look literally exactly the same to any webserver, but somehow they can detect it.

If you want some testcode try out this:

from pyvirtualdisplay import Display
from selenium import webdriver

display = Display(visible=1, size=(1600, 902))
chrome_options = webdriver.ChromeOptions()
driver = webdriver.Chrome(chrome_options=chrome_options)
print 'arguments done'

If you browse around stubhub you’ll get redirected and ‘blocked’ within one or two requests. I’ve been investigating this and I can’t figure out how they can tell that a user is using Selenium.

How do they do it?

I installed the Selenium IDE plugin in Firefox and I got banned when I went to in the normal Firefox browser with only the additional plugin.

When I use Fiddler to view the HTTP requests being sent back and forth I’ve noticed that the ‘fake browser’s’ requests often have ‘no-cache’ in the response header.

Results like this Is there a way to detect that I’m in a Selenium Webdriver page from JavaScript suggest that there should be no way to detect when you are using a webdriver. But this evidence suggests otherwise.

The site uploads a fingerprint to their servers, but I checked and the fingerprint of Selenium is identical to the fingerprint when using Chrome.

This is one of the fingerprint payloads that they send to their servers: {“appName”:”Netscape”,”platform”:”Linuxx86_64″,”cookies”:1,”syslang”:”en-US”,”userlang”:”en-US”,”cpu”:””,”productSub”:”20030107″,”setTimeout”:1,”setInterval”:1,”plugins”:{“0″:”ChromePDFViewer”,”1″:”ShockwaveFlash”,”2″:”WidevineContentDecryptionModule”,”3″:”NativeClient”,”4″:”ChromePDFViewer”},”mimeTypes”:{“0″:”application/pdf”,”1″:”ShockwaveFlashapplication/x-shockwave-flash”,”2″:”FutureSplashPlayerapplication/futuresplash”,”3″:”WidevineContentDecryptionModuleapplication/x-ppapi-widevine-cdm”,”4″:”NativeClientExecutableapplication/x-nacl”,”5″:”PortableNativeClientExecutableapplication/x-pnacl”,”6″:”PortableDocumentFormatapplication/x-google-chrome-pdf”},”screen”:{“width”:1600,”height”:900,”colorDepth”:24},”fonts”:{“0″:”monospace”,”1″:”DejaVuSerif”,”2″:”Georgia”,”3″:”DejaVuSans”,”4″:”TrebuchetMS”,”5″:”Verdana”,”6″:”AndaleMono”,”7″:”DejaVuSansMono”,”8″:”LiberationMono”,”9″:”NimbusMonoL”,”10″:”CourierNew”,”11″:”Courier”}}

It’s identical in Selenium and in Chrome.

VPNs work for a single use, but they get detected after I load the first page. Clearly some JavaScript is being run to detect Selenium.

The Question Comments :
  • @RyanWeinstein: It is not traffic. My guess is that Selenium needs to expose some JavaScript hooks which can be detected on the client-side JavaScript.
  • Or if it is traffic then it is a traffic pattern…. you are browsing pages too fast.
  • I’m not browsing too fast. I only load a single page and I navigate through it normally using my mouse and keyboard. Also it doesn’t make sense that Selenium needs to expose hooks, because its literally running chrome.exe. It just runs normal chrome and allows you to get data from it. Any other ideas? I was thinking maybe it has something to do with cookies. This is driving me crazy.
  • This site uses distill bot detection technology and delivers content using CDN from diffrent ips e.g. , ,
  • I am experiencing the same issue with Selenium and the firefox driver. The interesting thing to note is I am running Selenium in a VMWare Workstation Virtual Machine that is accessing the internet through a NAT. The host machine is able to access stubhub, while the VM is unable to access when using Selenium, or even the browser instance Selenium launched. I had the VM Browser instance Blocked and stubhub still recognizes the machine and has it blocked. So it must be performing a fingerprint of the browser and machine in some manner.

The Answer 1

79 people think this answer is useful

Replacing cdc_ string

You can use vim or perl to replace the cdc_ string in chromedriver. See answer by @Erti-Chris Eelmaa to learn more about that string and how it’s a detection point.

Using vim or perl prevents you from having to recompile source code or use a hex-editor.

Make sure to make a copy of the original chromedriver before attempting to edit it.

Our goal is to alter the cdc_ string, which looks something like $cdc_lasutopfhvcZLmcfl.

The methods below were tested on chromedriver version 2.41.578706.

Using Vim

vim /path/to/chromedriver

After running the line above, you’ll probably see a bunch of gibberish. Do the following:

  1. Replace all instances of cdc_ with dog_ by typing :%s/cdc_/dog_/g.
    • dog_ is just an example. You can choose anything as long as it has the same amount of characters as the search string (e.g., cdc_), otherwise the chromedriver will fail.
  2. To save the changes and quit, type :wq! and press return.
    • If you need to quit without saving changes, type :q! and press return.

Using Perl

The line below replaces all cdc_ occurrences with dog_. Credit to Vic Seedoubleyew:

perl -pi -e 's/cdc_/dog_/g' /path/to/chromedriver

Make sure that the replacement string (e.g., dog_) has the same number of characters as the search string (e.g., cdc_), otherwise the chromedriver will fail.

Wrapping Up

To verify that all occurrences of cdc_ were replaced:

grep "cdc_" /path/to/chromedriver

If no output was returned, the replacement was successful.

Go to the altered chromedriver and double click on it. A terminal window should open up. If you don’t see killed in the output, you’ve successfully altered the driver.

Make sure that the name of the altered chromedriver binary is chromedriver, and that the original binary is either moved from its original location or renamed.

My Experience With This Method

I was previously being detected on a website while trying to log in, but after replacing cdc_ with an equal sized string, I was able to log in. Like others have said though, if you’ve already been detected, you might get blocked for a plethora of other reasons even after using this method. So you may have to try accessing the site that was detecting you using a VPN, different network, etc.

The Answer 2

166 people think this answer is useful

Basically, the way the Selenium detection works, is that they test for predefined JavaScript variables which appear when running with Selenium. The bot detection scripts usually look anything containing word “selenium” / “webdriver” in any of the variables (on window object), and also document variables called $cdc_ and $wdc_. Of course, all of this depends on which browser you are on. All the different browsers expose different things.

For me, I used Chrome, so, all that I had to do was to ensure that $cdc_ didn’t exist anymore as a document variable, and voilà (download chromedriver source code, modify chromedriver and re-compile $cdc_ under different name.)

This is the function I modified in chromedriver:

File call_function.js:

function getPageCache(opt_doc) {
  var doc = opt_doc || document;
  //var key = '$cdc_asdjflasutopfhvcZLmcfl_';
  var key = 'randomblabla_';
  if (!(key in doc))
    doc[key] = new Cache();
  return doc[key];

(Note the comment. All I did I turned $cdc_ to randomblabla_.)

Here is pseudocode which demonstrates some of the techniques that bot networks might use:

runBotDetection = function () {
    var documentDetectionKeys = [

    var windowDetectionKeys = [

    for (const windowDetectionKey in windowDetectionKeys) {
        const windowDetectionKeyValue = windowDetectionKeys[windowDetectionKey];
        if (window[windowDetectionKeyValue]) {
            return true;
    for (const documentDetectionKey in documentDetectionKeys) {
        const documentDetectionKeyValue = documentDetectionKeys[documentDetectionKey];
        if (window['document'][documentDetectionKeyValue]) {
            return true;

    for (const documentKey in window['document']) {
        if (documentKey.match(/\$[a-z]dc_/) && window['document'][documentKey]['cache_']) {
            return true;

    if (window['external'] && window['external'].toString() && (window['external'].toString()['indexOf']('Sequentum') != -1)) return true;

    if (window['document']['documentElement']['getAttribute']('selenium')) return true;
    if (window['document']['documentElement']['getAttribute']('webdriver')) return true;
    if (window['document']['documentElement']['getAttribute']('driver')) return true;

    return false;

According to user szx, it is also possible to simply open chromedriver.exe in a hex editor, and just do the replacement manually, without actually doing any compiling.

The Answer 3

107 people think this answer is useful

As we’ve already figured out in the question and the posted answers, there is an anti Web-scraping and a Bot detection service called “Distil Networks” in play here. And, according to the company CEO’s interview:

Even though they can create new bots, we figured out a way to identify Selenium the a tool they’re using, so we’re blocking Selenium no matter how many times they iterate on that bot. We’re doing that now with Python and a lot of different technologies. Once we see a pattern emerge from one type of bot, then we work to reverse engineer the technology they use and identify it as malicious.

It’ll take time and additional challenges to understand how exactly they are detecting Selenium, but what can we say for sure at the moment:

  • it’s not related to the actions you take with selenium – once you navigate to the site, you get immediately detected and banned. I’ve tried to add artificial random delays between actions, take a pause after the page is loaded – nothing helped
  • it’s not about browser fingerprint either – tried it in multiple browsers with clean profiles and not, incognito modes – nothing helped
  • since, according to the hint in the interview, this was “reverse engineering”, I suspect this is done with some JS code being executed in the browser revealing that this is a browser automated via selenium webdriver

Decided to post it as an answer, since clearly:

Can a website detect when you are using selenium with chromedriver?


Also, what I haven’t experimented with is older selenium and older browser versions – in theory, there could be something implemented/added to selenium at a certain point that Distil Networks bot detector currently relies on. Then, if this is the case, we might detect (yeah, let’s detect the detector) at what point/version a relevant change was made, look into changelog and changesets and, may be, this could give us more information on where to look and what is it they use to detect a webdriver-powered browser. It’s just a theory that needs to be tested.

The Answer 4

26 people think this answer is useful

Example of how it’s implemented on

try {
 if (window.document.documentElement.getAttribute("webdriver")) return !+[]
} catch (IDLMrxxel) {}
try {
 if ("_Selenium_IDE_Recorder" in window) return !+""
} catch (KknKsUayS) {}
try {
 if ("__webdriver_script_fn" in document) return !+""

The Answer 5

19 people think this answer is useful

A lot have been analyzed and discussed about a website being detected being driven by Selenium controlled ChromeDriver. Here are my two cents:

According to the article Browser detection using the user agent serving different webpages or services to different browsers is usually not among the best of ideas. The web is meant to be accessible to everyone, regardless of which browser or device an user is using. There are best practices outlined to develop a website to progressively enhance itself based on the feature availability rather than by targeting specific browsers.

However, browsers and standards are not perfect, and there are still some edge cases where some websites still detects the browser and if the browser is driven by Selenium controled WebDriver. Browsers can be detected through different ways and some commonly used mechanisms are as follows:

You can find a relevant detailed discussion in How does recaptcha 3 know I’m using selenium/chromedriver?

  • Detecting the term HeadlessChrome within headless Chrome UserAgent

You can find a relevant detailed discussion in Access Denied page with headless Chrome on Linux while headed Chrome works on windows using Selenium through Python

You can find a relevant detailed discussion in Unable to use Selenium to automate Chase site login

  • Using Bot Manager service from Akamai

You can find a relevant detailed discussion in Dynamic dropdown doesn’t populate with auto suggestions on when values are passed using Selenium and Python

  • Using Bot Protection service from Datadome

You can find a relevant detailed discussion in Website using DataDome gets captcha blocked while scraping using Selenium and Python

However, using the user-agent to detect the browser looks simple but doing it well is in fact a bit tougher.

Note: At this point it’s worth to mention that: it’s very rarely a good idea to use user agent sniffing. There are always better and more broadly compatible way to address a certain issue.

Considerations for browser detection

The idea behind detecting the browser can be either of the following:

  • Trying to work around a specific bug in some specific variant or specific version of a webbrowser.
  • Trying to check for the existence of a specific feature that some browsers don’t yet support.
  • Trying to provide different HTML depending on which browser is being used.

Alternative of browser detection through UserAgents

Some of the alternatives of browser detection are as follows:

  • Implementing a test to detect how the browser implements the API of a feature and determine how to use it from that. An example was Chrome unflagged experimental lookbehind support in regular expressions.
  • Adapting the design technique of Progressive enhancement which would involve developing a website in layers, using a bottom-up approach, starting with a simpler layer and improving the capabilities of the site in successive layers, each using more features.
  • Adapting the top-down approach of Graceful degradation in which we build the best possible site using all the features we want and then tweak it to make it work on older browsers.


To prevent the Selenium driven WebDriver from getting detected, a niche approach would include either/all of the below mentioned approaches:

  • Rotating the UserAgent in every execution of your Test Suite using fake_useragent module as follows:

    from selenium import webdriver
    from import Options
    from fake_useragent import UserAgent
    options = Options()
    ua = UserAgent()
    userAgent = ua.random
    driver = webdriver.Chrome(chrome_options=options, executable_path=r'C:\WebDrivers\ChromeDriver\chromedriver_win32\chromedriver.exe')

You can find a relevant detailed discussion in Way to change Google Chrome user agent in Selenium?

  • Rotating the UserAgent in each of your Tests using Network.setUserAgentOverride through execute_cdp_cmd() as follows:

    from selenium import webdriver
    driver = webdriver.Chrome(executable_path=r'C:\WebDrivers\chromedriver.exe')
    print(driver.execute_script("return navigator.userAgent;"))
    # Setting user agent as Chrome/83.0.4103.97
    driver.execute_cdp_cmd('Network.setUserAgentOverride', {"userAgent": 'Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/83.0.4103.97 Safari/537.36'})
    print(driver.execute_script("return navigator.userAgent;"))

You can find a relevant detailed discussion in How to change the User Agent using Selenium and Python

  • Changing the property value of navigator for webdriver to undefined as follows:

    driver.execute_cdp_cmd("Page.addScriptToEvaluateOnNewDocument", {
      "source": """
        Object.defineProperty(navigator, 'webdriver', {
          get: () => undefined

You can find a relevant detailed discussion in Selenium webdriver: Modifying navigator.webdriver flag to prevent selenium detection

  • Changing the values of navigator.plugins, navigator.languages, WebGL, hairline feature, missing image, etc.

You can find a relevant detailed discussion in Is there a version of selenium webdriver that is not detectable?

You can find a relevant detailed discussion in How to bypass Google captcha with Selenium and python?

Dealing with reCAPTCHA

While dealing with 2captcha and recaptcha-v3 rather clicking on checkbox associated to the text I’m not a robot, it may be easier to get authenticated extracting and using the data-sitekey.

You can find a relevant detailed discussion in How to identify the 32 bit data-sitekey of ReCaptcha V2 to obtain a valid response programmatically using Selenium and Python Requests?

The Answer 6

17 people think this answer is useful

Obfuscating JavaScripts result

I have checked the chromedriver source code. That injects some javascript files to the browser.
Every javascript file on this link is injected to the web pages:

So I used reverse engineering and obfuscated the js files by Hex editing. Now i was sure that no more javascript variable, function names and fixed strings were used to uncover selenium activity. But still some sites and reCaptcha detect selenium!
Maybe they check the modifications that are caused by chromedriver js execution 🙂

Edit 1:

Chrome ‘navigator’ parameters modification

I discovered there are some parameters in ‘navigator’ that briefly uncover using of chromedriver. These are the parameters:

  • “navigator.webdriver” On non-automated mode it is ‘undefined’. On automated mode it’s ‘true’.
  • “navigator.plugins” On headless chrome has 0 length. So I added some fake elements to fool the plugin length checking process.
  • navigator.languages” was set to default chrome value ‘[“en-US”, “en”, “es”]’ .

So what i needed was a chrome extension to run javascript on the web pages. I made an extension with the js code provided in the article and used another article to add the zipped extension to my project. I have successfully changed the values; But still nothing changed!

I didn’t find other variables like these but it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Still reCaptcha detects chromedriver, So there should be more variables to change. The next step should be reverse engineering of the detector services that i don’t want to do.

Now I’m not sure does it worth to spend more time on this automation process or search for alternative methods!

The Answer 7

14 people think this answer is useful

Try to use selenium with a specific user profile of chrome, That way you can use it as specific user and define any thing you want, When doing so it will run as a ‘real’ user, look at chrome process with some process explorer and you’ll see the difference with the tags.

For example:

username = os.getenv("USERNAME")
userProfile = "C:\\Users\\" + username + "\\AppData\\Local\\Google\\Chrome\\User Data\\Default"
options = webdriver.ChromeOptions()
# add here any tag you want.
options.add_experimental_option("excludeSwitches", ["ignore-certificate-errors", "safebrowsing-disable-download-protection", "safebrowsing-disable-auto-update", "disable-client-side-phishing-detection"])
chromedriver = "C:\Python27\chromedriver\chromedriver.exe"
os.environ[""] = chromedriver
browser = webdriver.Chrome(executable_path=chromedriver, chrome_options=options)

chrome tag list here

The Answer 8

13 people think this answer is useful

partial interface Navigator { readonly attribute boolean webdriver; };

The webdriver IDL attribute of the Navigator interface must return the value of the webdriver-active flag, which is initially false.

This property allows websites to determine that the user agent is under control by WebDriver, and can be used to help mitigate denial-of-service attacks.

Taken directly from the 2017 W3C Editor’s Draft of WebDriver. This heavily implies that at the very least, future iterations of selenium’s drivers will be identifiable to prevent misuse. Ultimately, it’s hard to tell without the source code, what exactly causes chrome driver in specific to be detectable.

The Answer 9

8 people think this answer is useful

Firefox is said to set window.navigator.webdriver === true if working with a webdriver. That was according to one of the older specs (e.g.: but I couldn’t find it in the new one except for some very vague wording in the appendices.

A test for it is in the selenium code in the file fingerprint_test.js where the comment at the end says “Currently only implemented in firefox” but I wasn’t able to identify any code in that direction with some simple greping, neither in the current (41.0.2) Firefox release-tree nor in the Chromium-tree.

I also found a comment for an older commit regarding fingerprinting in the firefox driver b82512999938 from January 2015. That code is still in the Selenium GIT-master downloaded yesterday at javascript/firefox-driver/extension/content/server.js with a comment linking to the slightly differently worded appendix in the current w3c webdriver spec.

The Answer 10

8 people think this answer is useful

One more thing I found is that some websites uses a platform that checks the User Agent. If the value contains: “HeadlessChrome” the behavior can be weird when using headless mode.

The workaround for that will be to override the user agent value, for example in Java:

chromeOptions.addArguments("--user-agent=Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_13_6) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/73.0.3683.86 Safari/537.36");

The Answer 11

8 people think this answer is useful

Additionally to the great answer of Erti-Chris Eelmaa – there’s annoying window.navigator.webdriver and it is read-only. Event if you change the value of it to false it will still have true. That’s why the browser driven by automated software can still be detected.


The variable is managed by the flag --enable-automation in chrome. The chromedriver launches Chrome with that flag and Chrome sets the window.navigator.webdriver to true. You can find it here. You need to add to “exclude switches” the flag. For instance (Go):

package main

import (

func main() {

caps := selenium.Capabilities{
    "browserName": "chrome",

chromeCaps := chrome.Capabilities{
    Path:            "/path/to/chrome-binary",
    ExcludeSwitches: []string{"enable-automation"},

wd, err := selenium.NewRemote(caps, fmt.Sprintf("http://localhost:%d/wd/hub", 4444))

The Answer 12

6 people think this answer is useful

The bot detection I’ve seen seems more sophisticated or at least different than what I’ve read through in the answers below.


  1. I open a browser and web page with Selenium from a Python console.
  2. The mouse is already at a specific location where I know a link will appear once the page loads. I never move the mouse.
  3. I press the left mouse button once (this is necessary to take focus from the console where Python is running to the browser).
  4. I press the left mouse button again (remember, cursor is above a given link).
  5. The link opens normally, as it should.


  1. As before, I open a browser and the web page with Selenium from a Python console.

  2. This time around, instead of clicking with the mouse, I use Selenium (in the Python console) to click the same element with a random offset.

  3. The link doesn’t open, but I am taken to a sign up page.


  • opening a web browser via Selenium doesn’t preclude me from appearing human
  • moving the mouse like a human is not necessary to be classified as human
  • clicking something via Selenium with an offset still raises the alarm

Seems mysterious, but I guess they can just determine whether an action originates from Selenium or not, while they don’t care whether the browser itself was opened via Selenium or not. Or can they determine if the window has focus? Would be interesting to hear if anyone has any insights.

The Answer 13

6 people think this answer is useful

It sounds like they are behind a web application firewall. Take a look at modsecurity and OWASP to see how those work.

In reality, what you are asking is how to do bot detection evasion. That is not what Selenium WebDriver is for. It is for testing your web application not hitting other web applications. It is possible, but basically, you’d have to look at what a WAF looks for in their rule set and specifically avoid it with selenium if you can. Even then, it might still not work because you don’t know what WAF they are using.

You did the right first step, that is, faking the user agent. If that didn’t work though, then a WAF is in place and you probably need to get more tricky.

Point taken from other answer. Make sure your user agent is actually being set correctly first. Maybe have it hit a local web server or sniff the traffic going out.

The Answer 14

5 people think this answer is useful

Even if you are sending all the right data (e.g. Selenium doesn’t show up as an extension, you have a reasonable resolution/bit-depth, &c), there are a number of services and tools which profile visitor behaviour to determine whether the actor is a user or an automated system.

For example, visiting a site then immediately going to perform some action by moving the mouse directly to the relevant button, in less than a second, is something no user would actually do.

It might also be useful as a debugging tool to use a site such as to check how unique your browser is; it’ll also help you verify whether there are any specific parameters that indicate you’re running in Selenium.

The Answer 15

4 people think this answer is useful

Write an html page with the following code. You will see that in the DOM selenium applies a webdriver attribute in the outerHTML

  <script type="text/javascript">
    function showWindow(){
    <input type="button" value="Show outerHTML" onclick="showWindow()">

The Answer 16

4 people think this answer is useful

Some sites are detecting this:

function d() {
try {
    if (window.document.$cdc_asdjflasutopfhvcZLmcfl_.cache_)
        return !0
} catch (e) {}

try {
    //if (window.document.documentElement.getAttribute(decodeURIComponent("%77%65%62%64%72%69%76%65%72")))
    if (window.document.documentElement.getAttribute("webdriver"))
        return !0
} catch (e) {}

try {
    //if (decodeURIComponent("%5F%53%65%6C%65%6E%69%75%6D%5F%49%44%45%5F%52%65%63%6F%72%64%65%72") in window)
    if ("_Selenium_IDE_Recorder" in window)
        return !0
} catch (e) {}

try {
    //if (decodeURIComponent("%5F%5F%77%65%62%64%72%69%76%65%72%5F%73%63%72%69%70%74%5F%66%6E") in document)
    if ("__webdriver_script_fn" in document)
        return !0
} catch (e) {}

The Answer 17

3 people think this answer is useful

It seems to me the simplest way to do it with Selenium is to intercept the XHR that sends back the browser fingerprint.

But since this is a Selenium-only problem, its better just to use something else. Selenium is supposed to make things like this easier, not way harder.

The Answer 18

3 people think this answer is useful

I’ve found changing the JavaScript “key” variable like this:

//Fools the website into believing a human is navigating it
((JavascriptExecutor)driver).executeScript("window.key = \"blahblah\";");

works for some websites when using Selenium WebDriver along with Google Chrome, since many sites check for this variable in order to avoid being scraped by Selenium.

The Answer 19

1 people think this answer is useful

You can try to use the parameter “enable-automation”

var options = new ChromeOptions();

// hide selenium
options.AddExcludedArguments(new List<string>() { "enable-automation" });

var driver = new ChromeDriver(ChromeDriverService.CreateDefaultService(), options);

But, I want to warn that this ability was fixed in ChromeDriver 79.0.3945.16. So probably you should use older versions of chrome.

Also, as another option, you can try using InternetExplorerDriver instead of Chrome. As for me, IE does not block at all without any hacks.

And for more info try to take a look here:

Selenium webdriver: Modifying navigator.webdriver flag to prevent selenium detection

Unable to hide “Chrome is being controlled by automated software” infobar within Chrome v76

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