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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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
In an ironic twist that the company's ex phreaker CEO must surely appreciate on some level, iPhone hacker George Hotz has since been given a Nissan 350Z and three more iPhones as payment for the one he modified.
Having developed along with modern technology and drawing upon the methodology and discoveries generated by phreakers, a modern day "more serious twist on [that] old crime" has manifested itself in the practice of swatting.
Lessons can be also learnt from how telcos secured their public-switched telephone networks (PSTNs) from phreakers. By separating voice and data onto different VLANs, compromises to one do not harm the other, with the added gain that voice traffic can be prioritised over data, ensuring quality of service.
They were called crackers or, when they were sneaking onto telephone networks, phone phreakers.
(5.) Schwartau, Winn, Cybershock: Surviving Hackers, Phreakers, Identity Thieves, Internet Terrorists and Weapons of Mass Disruption (New York, NY: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2000), page 45.
The telephone cheats - known as phreakers - took over all 30 lines out of the offices.
Scott Klososky, the top-rated speaker at our first two ihousing conferences, did an in-depth study of the world of hackers, crackers, phreakers, and script kiddies.
"Personal firewalls are almost required at this point, especially with people with high-speed connections to the Net," says Winn Schwartau, a computer security consultant and author of the book Cybershock: Surviving Hackers, Phreakers, Identity Thieves, Internet Terrorists and Weapons of Mass Destruction.