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TUCoPS :: Phreaking General Information :: upifile1.txt

The Phreakers Bag of High Tech Tricks

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<             The United Phreaker's Incorporated Proudly Presents            >
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<                   The Phreaker's Bag Of High Tech Tricks                   >
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<                            By: The Lost Avenger                            >
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<                           An Upi Production 1990                           >
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Reprinted In File Form On January 17, 1990

Orignally Publised In Toronto Star Sunday January 7, 1990


                                By Leslie Papp
                                 TORONTO STAR

        A New breed of pirate is plundering Canadian companies armed with a
telephone instead of a cutlass.
        They're called "fone phreakers" the telephone equivalent of computer
hackers and they're costing companies millions of dollars.
        Phreakers charged $1 millions worth of illegal calls to Toronto's
Call-Net Telecommunications Ltd., a private telephone network, over a six month
period last year.
        And Call-Net isn't their only victimm.
        A Metro finacial services company was hit for $30,000 in a single day,
telecommunications security sources said.  A travel business recently lost
$100,000 in illegal calls and a major entertainment company was stung for
$100,000 over about three months.
        "It becomes pretty mind boggling" says Jack Cloutte, head of Bell
Canada security in Ontario.
        "More than 100 cases of suspected telephone fraud go to his department
monthly.  And that's only a fraction of the actual abuse going on.
        "It's A big concern of ours." Cloutte said, nothing that Bell is a
frequent victim.
        Phreaker's have repeatedly palnted listening devices in the company's
vital Adelaide Street switiching center, seeking access to secret Bell Canada
codes and other data, he said.
        Although new technology is being developed to make it harder to raid
telephone networks, phreaker's remain a step ahead of the authorities, he
        Canada has thousands of fone phreakers, ranging from clumsy tennages to
experts with years of experience.  And they boast a long list of shady
successes, including:

        o Unauthorized use of companies' long distance services to reach
          friends anywhere in the world.

        o Free calls with homemade electronic "boxes" that beam signals along a
          phone line to fool Bell Canada operators and equipment.

        o Use of telephone company test loops as a phreaker chat line.

        o Eavesdropping on private messages of executives and lawyers after
          cracking the code of their voice mailboxes, answering machines that
          play messages back over the telephone.

        o Listening to the cellukar phone conversations of insuspecting
          business people.

        o Tapping telephone wires leading into a company to obtain codes for
          voice mailboxes and long distance services.

        o Charging conversations to calling card numbers obtained by fraud.

        "The amount of abuse is well beyond what we expected," said Sergeant
Val King, head of the RCMP's  computer and telecommunications crime section in
Ottawa.  Oftern companies being defrauded dob't even know they're victims.  And
telephone raiders are proving extremely difficult to catch.
        "They're have so many mehtods of covering their trail," King lamented.
"They're can jump through 50 different (telephone) systems before they access
the one next door."
        Phreakers are formidable opponents, agreed Ros Morley owner of
Commmunications Systems, a Toronto telecommunications consulting firm.
        "Some of the kids doing this are 14 to 16 years old," he said.  "They
start working with computers in Grade 2 and they're building computers by Grade
        "They're practically electrically engineers when they reach Grade 10."
        Older than most is the Wizard, a Toronto phreaker who boasts about
$2,000 in unpayed bills every month.
        "I'm screwing Ma Bell out of her money," the Wizard notes with pride.
"That's the glory of it.  That what unifies phreakers."
        In his mid 20's, but looking younger in a paisley tie and dapper pale
gray suit, The Wizard said he's been phreaking for about eight years.

Inside Information

        "It's just a knowledge thing," he said, adjusting his glasses.  "The
whole thrill is manipulating Bell to do what you want."
        Having inside information is a big help in cracking phone systems.
And salting Bell Canada with listening devices is one way to get useful
secrets, he said.
        Posing as electrical engineering students, several ohreakers, himslef
included, have taken tours of Bell's main Adelaide St. switching center, he
said.  and they planted miniature microphones, wired to tiny transmitters
broadcasting on a high end FM frequency.
        "You just take a tour and drop a bug." the Wizard said.  "Then you
listen across the street, on a Walkman, as the technicians user their codes."
        Now the Adelaide St. center is electronically "swept" for bugs on a
routine basis, he said.  "If we didn't learn from history we'd have to have our
heads read."
        Bell recognizes phreaking as a serious problem, Cloutte sais, but most
businesses don't know how exposed they are to a phone line invasion.
        Call-Net was badly burned, said the firm's president Mike Kedar, adding
he opposed publication of new that $1 million in illegal calls was charged to
the company.
        "It's nobody's business," he said.  "We had to pay for it.  It's over
and done."
        Silence is the best response to fone phreaking, Kedar said.  "It's a
story that should not be told."
        Consultant Morley said that sttitude is widespread among firms that
have been stung.
        "A lot of these companies are just plain embarrassed," he said.  "And
corporations that haven't experienced (a phreaker raid) don't believe it can

Not Noticed

        Large businesses, with six figure monthly phone bills, ofter don't
notice when phreakers add a few thousand dollars to the telephone tab, said
King of The Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
        Sergeant Dave Hodgson of the Metro police fraud squad has specialized
in computer and telephone communications crime since last spring and has
investigated about 10 cases.
        How many resulted in charges?
        "None," he said with a bitter laugh.  "As far as getting anything for
court, you're just blowing again the wind."
        Bell Canada does better than police in nabbing phreakers, Cloutte said.
The company's Ontario Investigator, Walter Heapy, handles about six cases
monthly.  And almost all result in criminal charges, civil charges or an out of
court settlement.
        "There's always an electronic trail." said Heapy.  "A call can always
be traced back to its orgins.  It's a function of time."
        Heapy's most publicized case was the conviction of Leslie Lynee
Doucette, 35, formerly of Toronto, in 1987.  She was arrested in her Rhodes
Avenue home after stealing $12,211 worth of long distance call over a two month
        She was again charged last May, after being arrested by U.S. federal
agents in Chicago in connection with a conspiracy involving dozens of phreakers
and as much stealing $1.8 million worth of long distance calls over a two month
        But the possibility of arrest doesn't worry the Wizard.
        "The ones they catch are kids who don't know what's going on," he said,
"I know what I'm doing.  if I'm doing anything slightly risky I'll use a pay
phone or a string of numbers it can only be traced back so far."


                                By Leslie Papp
                                 TORONTO STAR

        How do they do it?
        How do teenages crack sophisticated telecommunications networks, steal
missions worth of long distance calls and escape scot-free?
        One secret is a big bad of hightech tricks shared by "fone phreakers"
across North America And Europe.
        It provides basic weapons and strategics used to attack telephone
systems.  In the hands of a phreaker with special genius, these tricks can be
used to invade virtually any phone networks, experts say.
        "Eventually, any system can be cracked," noted Corporal Brian Binnie,
the RCMP's telecommunications fraud expert in Toronto.  "If you have a phone
line you're vulnerable."
        Businesses risk huge telephone charges when a phreakerpenetrates their
in house communications network and plunders long distance calls.
        It's complicated, but here's how it's done:
        Many firms operate WATS lines, or 1-800 numbers, allowing staff to dial
long distance calls automatically billed to the company.  Often there are two
such line: an INWATS paying for calls going into the office, and an OUTWATS,
covering calls going out.

Electronic Pipeline

        With such systems, exectives can make long distance calls from anywhere
in the the world by dialing the INWATS number and punching in a code
automatically passing them to the OUTWATS.
        Phreakers call this set up an "extender," says the Wizard, a
telecommunications pirate with eight years of experience.  "They're real
treasures.  You call a 1-800 number and punch in the code - usually seven
digits - and then you dial anywhere in the world."
        Codes can be broken with a "demon dialler," a computer trying number
after number on the target system until it finds and records the right one, he
        Homemade wiretaps also prove helpful, the Wizard noted, pulling one
from his pocket.
        Phreakers like to link extender, using one to reach another creating a
pipeline of illegal calls streacting through several countries before reaching
the person they want.

Basic Weapon

        "The longer the trail you set the harder it is them to get you," the
Wizard said.
        Cracked codes are shared and often listed on computer bulletin boards
around the world.  That results in a deluge of long distance charges within a
few days or weeks, sometimes totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
        Electronic "boxes" are another basic weapon in a phreaker's armory.
Scores of these have been developed, said Ross Morley, head of a Toronto
telecommunications consulting firm.  All generate signals to mislead phone
companies and include the:

        o "Red Box."  It creates the electronics pulses that an operator hears
when change is loaded into a pay phone.

        o "Blue Box."  It signals Bell Canada that a call is finshed stopping
charges even though a phreaker's is still on the line.

        o "Black Box."  It emits an electronic pulse telling Bell equipment
that a call did not go through, even though it really did.

        Countermeasures haven been developed to foil blue and black boxes, said
Jack Cloutte, head of Bell Canada security in Ontario.
        Butt these defences are not used everywhere.
        "There are a ton of other boxes," Morley notes.  "Phreakers come up
with them faster than the phone company can counter them."
        Telephone test loops are another phreakers target, Cloutte said.  These
are reached through two numbers used by Bell lineman to test phone circuits.
Callers dialing one test loop numbers can speak free of charge to anyone
dialing the other.
        "We do have a means of preventing that," said Walter heapy, one of
Bell's top investigators.  "But the door's not always closed."
        Another door left leads to exectives' voice, or electronic, mailboxes,
the Wizard said.
        To demostrate, he picked up a phone and quickly punched in a telephone
number and four digit code.
        At the receiving end, the answering machine of a multinational
accounting firm's vice president played back confidential message of its owner.
        Nothing much there this time the Wizard said with a disappointed sniff.
Just a few appointments scheduled and a meeting cancelled.
        But a few months ago there was news of a company merger, he said.  "We
know about it before it hit the papers."
        Voice mailbox codes are easy to "hack out" he noted.  Oftern they're
obvious, based on the owner's name, or run in an easy to remember series like
        Business secrets also leak to phreakers through cellular phones, the
Wizard said.

Calling Cards

        A cellular message is really a radio transmission that is easily picked
up with a scanner.  A phreaker can eavesdrop on long sections of conversations,
especially in a central Toronto location at rush hour, when traffic is slow,
he said.
        "I've heard brokers talking about stock tips." the Wizard chuckled.
"There guys don't know how easy it is to listen in.  They talk about what
mergers are coming up, and so on.
        Phreakers, however must weed through a jungle of 823 frequencies used
by cellular companies.  As a caller travels, the conversation is constantly
switched to a different frequency, usually allowing an eavesdropper to hear
only bits of a message.
        Phreakers can overcome this problem with a device that can track a
specific call as it is passed from one frequency to another.
        Among the simplest of phreaker scams is misuse of calling card numbers.
        Card numbers are easily obtained, sometimes by peaking over a user's
shoulder at a busy location, like an airport.
        Once taken, numbers are listed on computer bulletin boards.  That
results in long distance charges far excess of a card's allowable limite as it
is used simultaneously by phreakers in the United States, Canada and Europe,
Cloutte said.
        International data bases, used by major credit card companies to keep
track of stolen numbers, do not yet exist for calling cards, he said.
        "All countries aren't in one pool," he said.


                                By Leslie Papp
                                 TORONTO STAR

        Youth, electronics genius and an obsessive need to thumb a nose at
authority bind "fone phreakers" throughout North America and Europe, expects
        "It's almost like a disease," said Jack Cloutte, head of Bell Canada
security in Ontario. "It can be addictive.
        Computer and electronics whiz kids get a deep psychological thrill out
of stealing telecommunications (Yeah right, I phreak because I get my jolies
out of doing it, yeah right!  If the fucking cost of calling long distance
were lower they wouldn't have such a problem! -Tla), he said.  It is a way of
realizing a Dungeons And Dragons style fantasy, matching their powers against
police and Bell investigators in a secret battle of wits.
        "Some are good," Cloutte said with a hint of admiration.  But most are
not quite normal.
        "A lot of people into this are kind of strange," (Ok, this is another
stupid statement said but this guy.  He's starting to piss me off! -Tla) he
said. They're very bright, but somehow out of sync with society.
        "They get a charge of beating the system.  You can compare it to an
athlete who gets a charge out of winning a big game." Cloutte said.
        "It can be become a real obsession.  Sometimes they can't stop."
        Most phreakers don't see themselves as criminals.  Usually they gain no
profit from what they do and consider their invasions a game of high tech hide
and seek, hurting only Bell and fat cat corporations.
        But phreakers aren't simply pranksters, said John Kuhn, a CNCP
Telecommunications strategic planner.
        They are twisted individuals, he said.  "There's a criminal element to
their psyche making them want to wreck something that's orderly." (Oh no, this
guy is stupid he doesn't know a slightest thing why we are doing it.  I think
Bell and the other corporations deserve to get ripped! -Tla)

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01-17-90/001 Copywrite 1990 By The Lost Avenger-All Rights Reserved

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