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updated 9/6/2011 12:18:52 PM ET 2011-09-06T16:18:52

A group of Turkish hackers defaced several popular websites Sunday (Sept. 4), including The Telegraph, The Register, Vodafone and National Geographic.

Visitors to these sites, as well as Acer, UPS and Betfair.com, were redirected to a Web page where, below a picture of a red dragon, read "TurkGuvenligi, Gel Babana. HACKED. H4ck1n9 is not a cr1m3."

"Guvenligi" is Turkish for "Security," and "Gel Babana" translates to "Come to Papa," the security firm Sophos reported.

The message continued: "4 Sept. We TurkGuvenligi declare this day as World Hackers Day — Have Fun ;) h4ck y0u."

Unlike traditional website hacks, like LulzSec's takedown of the CIA website in June, TurkGuvenligi's did not breach the websites themselves, but instead manipulated the Domain Name System (DNS) records for each of its targets.

As Sophos' senior technology consultant explained, "DNS records work like a telephone book, converting human-readable website names like nakedsecurity.sophos.com into a sequence of numbers understandable by the Internet. What seems to have happened is that someone changed the lookup, so when you entered telegraph.co.uk or theregister.co.uk into your browser, you were instead taken to a website that wasn't under the control of those websites."

The Register issued a statement on the hack, explaining that it appears no attempt was made to penetrate its servers, but added that as a precaution it shut down access to any Web services requiring a password. Those services have now been restored.

Yesterday's victims were not TurkGuvenligi's first. The group has performed similar DNS attacks on more than 100 websites, including Interpol, HSBC, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Peugeot and several security companies including F-Secure, Kaspersky Lab and Secunia.

Despite its high-profile targets, it appears TurkGuvenligi is not operating with malicious intent or even a hacktivist agenda. According to a brief email interview between The Guardian and the group, TurkGuvenligi defaced its targets' websites simply for the fun and the challenge of it.

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