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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 ?
Needless to say, Engressia and Draper were not the only phreaks who ran afoul of the law.
A federal crackdown on phreaking in the early 1990s put an end to much of it, and phone systems today make it almost impossible to phreak the system and get away with it.
For the purpose of conciseness, this section treats as a single entity the characteristics of backers, crackers, and phreaks.
The best way to gain this knowledge is to learn from the real professionals, that is, the hackers, crackers, phreaks, and cyberpunks
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.
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).