Turkey manipulates Google’s Web surfing service and local news sites

Media // Web Services // Turkey

Internet service providers, under government orders, are hacking a Google service that Turkish citizens rely on to navigate the censored Web. One aim is to spot illicit Web surfing, according to Cihan News Agency.

Google software engineer Steven Carstensen confirmed in a blog post that Turkish ISPs have been intercepting Google’s so-called Domain Name System service. The hacking technique is sometimes referred to as DNS spoofing.

A DNS service looks up the numeric server address of the URL a person wants to visit, in the same way a person might look up a phone number in a phone book, he explained.

“Imagine if someone had changed out your phone book with another one, which looks pretty much the same as before, except that the listings for a few people showed the wrong phone number,” Carstensen wrote. “That’s essentially what’s happened: Turkish ISPs have set up servers that masquerade as Google’s DNS service.”

Citizens had been using the Google service to get around government bans on Twitter and YouTube.

“No one knows what will happen with the bans on Twitter and YouTube in Turkey. Will the ban be lifted? If so, when and how? Or will it extend to Facebook, Vimeo and other social media sites?” writes Today's Zaman columnist Yavuz Baydar.

His media outlet has also been attacked by the government.

“Internet speeds have slowed and, what's worse, the ongoing hacking of crucial news portals and sites -- such as Taraf, Today's Zaman, Bugün, Cumhuriyet, etc. -- give us reasons to remain concerned,” Baydar says.

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