(redirected from phreak)
Also found in: Dictionary, Idioms, Wikipedia.


/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 ?
Most phreaks were building and using "boxes"--hardware that could hijack phone lines and use them in all sorts of ways the phone company never intended.
Needless to say, Engressia and Draper were not the only phreaks who ran afoul of the law.
In regard to security, the eyberpunk can be defined as a contemporary combination of the hacker, cracker, and phreak.
To them, it is unfair for the public to regard the hacker, cracker, phreak, and cyberpunk as one malicious group.
For the purpose of conciseness, this section treats as a single entity the characteristics of backers, crackers, and phreaks.
Culture jammers, guerrilla media, cyberpunk culture, hackers, phone phreaks all provide rich material for examining creative possibilities for resisting, redesigning, and critiquing audiovisual culture.
Hack Attacks Encylcopedia: A Complete History of Hacks, Cracks, Phreaks, and Spies Over Time
Understanding how those technologies open new areas of capability is increasingly becoming the province of computer scientists and a growing network of gifted amateurs--known as hackers, phreaks, and crackers.
Charitably, he has only used the pseudonyms of most of the hackers and phreaks because he thought that the parents and loved ones of those people suffered enough when the individuals were exposed.
Once they gain access to a system, phreaks usually sell authorization codes to persons most likely to make international calls: illegal aliens and drug traffickers.
If you purchase one of these wonderful devices for $2,000 and install it outside your store, phone phreaks can simply walk up to it and make free calls," says Tobias.