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/freek'ing/ "phone phreak" 1. The art and science of cracking the telephone network so as, for example, to make free long-distance calls.

2. By extension, security-cracking in any other context (especially, but not exclusively, on communications networks).

At one time phreaking was a semi-respectable activity among hackers; there was a gentleman's agreement that phreaking as an intellectual game and a form of exploration was OK, but serious theft of services was taboo. There was significant crossover between the hacker community and the hard-core phone phreaks who ran semi-underground networks of their own through such media as the legendary "TAP Newsletter".

This ethos began to break down in the mid-1980s as wider dissemination of the techniques put them in the hands of less responsible phreaks. Around the same time, changes in the phone network made old-style technical ingenuity less effective as a way of hacking it, so phreaking came to depend more on overtly criminal acts such as stealing phone-card numbers.

The crimes and punishments of gangs like the "414 group" turned that game very ugly. A few old-time hackers still phreak casually just to keep their hand in, but most these days have hardly even heard of "blue boxes" or any of the other paraphernalia of the great phreaks of yore.
References in periodicals archive ?
15) Brent Dean, Phreaking and Spoofing--A Short History, Computer Crime & Tech.
19) See Dean, supra note 15 (discussing businesses' use of phreaking methods for purposes of enabling call centers "to display one main telephone number on all outgoing calls, even though those calls were not really originating from those numbers"); see also Leeson 8c Coyne, supra note 18, at 513 (explaining Draper's discovery created an opportunity for exploitation of AT&T's switching system to make free long distance calls); Baraniuk, supra note 16 ("[H]ackers would phreak their way into teleconferencing systems in order to have all-night group discussions--always at the expense of someone else (a client of the teleconferencing company).
Engressia got five years probation and had to swear off phreaking for good (although he did work as a troubleshooter for Mountain Bell in Denver for a while).
The fraud, called Phreaking, allows the criminal to make free use of airtime which is later billed to the unsuspecting user.
This capability, known in the civil community as hacking, phreaking, and other terms for arcane computer skills, also poses cultural problems for the US military.
We were looking at stolen property, information [value], fraud, piracy, support fees, credit card fraud, [phone] phreaking, cable bootlegging, preventive costs, and viruses.
That article, which is no longer online, was printed in the August issue of Softkill, an electronic magazine dedicated to ``sabotage, bomb making, terrorism, phreaking (like computer hacking but with phones) and encouraging economic collapse.
In the same way that AT&T split the pathways that carried its voice and signaling data to stop phone phreaking 30 years ago, the new model takes the authentication step of security out-of-band -- splitting the physical pathways that carry usernames and authentication data.