The Ultimate Begginers Guide To Phreaking: Second Edition / written by, Squiler
Converted to HTML by Penguin
Much of the information in this document is
illegal. You should not attempt anything written in this
document. It is for informational purposes only. If you
are even going to consider attempting anything written in
this document, do not read any further. If you do attempt
anything written in this document, then I am not
responsible for your actions.
You've probably heard of a device called scanner before. However you might not know what it is or what it does.
What is it?
Think of a scanner as a really advanced walkie-talkie.
A scanner is a machine that sends and receives transmissions,
just like a walkie-talkie. A scanner is hand held, (well most of them are)
thus easy to carry around, just like a walkie-talkie. Here's the clincher- A
scanner is much more powerful than walkie-talkie. An
average walkie-talkie (1) can only transmit and receive at
a distance of up too and around 180 feet. Also walkie-
talkies can only transmit at one frequency.
(1)-There are walkie-talkies you can get which will
transmit and receive at a distance of up to and around 2
miles (you know, those funky lookin' Motorola ones?). In a
way, these are scanners.
Scanners on the other hand, can transmit and receive on
multiple frequencies. Plus they're not limited to 180
feet, they're range can go for miles.
Scanners can be thought of as hi-tech beige box. They can
be used to tap phones. However they can't tap just any
phones. Only cordless phones. And only analog cordless
phones. 900mhz phones cannot be tapped.
Scanners are capable of tapping cordless phones because the
sound does not go directly from the line to the receiver of
a cordless phone. The deck where you hold the phone and
where it is recharged is used as a medium between the line
and the receiver. The scanner intercepts the signal being
sent from the medium to the receiver. All you have to do
is find the frequency that the cordless phone is on, and
set your scanner to that frequency. This will require some
trial and error, but it is well worth the effort.
There is a lot of fun you can have with a scanner. Like
you can listen in on your neighbor while talking to his
girlfriend. Find out her name, then call him back and say,
"Don't ever touch [insert girl's name here] again!"
Or another time while he's on the phone with his
girlfriend, you could come in with (remember, scanners can
receive as well as transmit) "You lying, cheating, scumbag,
bad excuse for a human being! You told me that you were a
one-woman man! And now I hear you talking to this other
bitch as if you're God's gift to women! Well, you can say
good-bye to this relationship!" (Then stomp on the floor
so it sounds like you're slamming down a phone)
But it doesn't end at cordless phones. There is much more
you can with scanners. Anytime you want to mess with
something, just find it's frequency and set the scanner to
it. Here are a few ideas:
Transmit a bomb threat to the guard's radio. Pretend to
be a fellow Security guard gone bad. If he doesn't
believe, you, say "Oh yea, well than how did I get on your
*Fast food drive-ins
Hide in the bushes until a car pulls up to the drive
through. Listen in with you're scanner. As soon as the
employee says, "May I take you're order", immediately start
talking before the person in the car can. Act like a real
asshole to the employee. Be creative. This also works in
reverse. You can pretend to be the fast food joint
employee and act like an ass to the person in the car.
Don't get too excited, you don't have your scanner yet. A
hand-held scanner can go for 60-1000 bucks USD. You can do
a search for scanners on the Internet, and you will find
many companies that sell them. You can also get one from
rat shack, but you'll have to order it by phone because
stores rarely carry them. You're best bet is to get one at
a pawnshop or at eBay, because you can get a good one for
Or if you're not into spending much cash, you can make
you're own very easily. The downside of this is that it
won't be too powerful. Also you won't be able to tune it.
And you'll only be able to use it on cordless phones (I
think). If you still want to make one, here are the
-$8 USD (if you live outside the US, it could be
That's all?! Wow this has to be easy!
1. Go to rat shack and pick up a single walkie-talkie.
Its only 4 bucks USD.
2. Get the biggest antenna you can get. The biggest one
is probably about 24", and should be more than $3 USD.
3. Unscrew the back of the walkie-talkie.
4. Now take out the original antenna (it's a piece of
shit). Sell it to your little brother for 5 bucks and tell
him that it can be used to contact aliens.
5. Put in the antenna you just bought from rat shack.
There, you have a homemade scanner.
Being a phreaker, when you see a piece of cool technology,
even if it is used in everyday life, you probably think
about it more deeply than the average guy. Because once
you know how something works, you know how to mess around
with it, and use it for things that the average guy
wouldn't. That's why you've probably been wondering how a
cell phone works.
I bet you know who invented the telephone right? Alexander
Graham Bell. Easy. He gets so much praise, and he deserves
it, because he invented one of the most useful inventions
in modern history. There is also another guy who invented
something useful. Except this guy doesn't get as much
praise as he deserves. His name is??, and he invented the
The reason he deserves so much praise is because he didn't
just simply improve on Bell's idea, he completely
reinvented it. You see, the cell phone system is totally
different than the system of a regular phone.
A cellular phone is not a phone at all. By raw definition,
it's radio. A really k-rad one, thought it's still a radio.
In fact, the thing that it's most closely related too is a
scanner or a walkie-talkie. Except a cell phone can
transmit and receive over a much further distance than a
regular scanner because it works with "cells". But we'll
get to that after.
You know when you're playing "walkie-talkie" with you're
little brother and he always screams at you because you're
talking? Even though you are talking, except you're genius
of a brother is holding down the "talk" button, so he can't
receive and of your transmissions? This is because walkie-
talkies only use one frequency, so you can only send OR
receive at one time, not both.
A cell phone on the other hand uses two frequencies, one
for transmitting, and one for receiving. So you can talk
and hear at the same time. Remember that shitty walkie-
talkie you got from rat shack for 4 bucks? That only has
about 40 channels you can set the frequency too. A cell
phone has around 1,664.
The FCC (::grunt::) standard (who the hell do they think
they are?) for cell phone frequencies is from 824mhz to
894mhz (that's under the UHF-ultra high frequency category
for all you newbies). Around a city there are jurisdictions
for cell phone antenna towers called "cells". Each one
uses a certain amount of frequencies. There are a few in
each city, so that's why no matter where you are in the
city, you're phone will get good reception. It's also why
the antenna on the cell phone doesn't have to be so big. A
cell phone will always be in range of an antenna tower.
Now that you know a little bit about the system, let's have
As you have seen in earlier sections, phreaking is taking a
turn for the worst. Anytime a new technology for a
communications product comes out, it is made to be phreak
proof. There is not much you can do with phreaking in the
area of cellular phones.
Cloning cellular phones is now almost impossible. And all
that's left is scanning cellular phones. However you can't
use a regular scanner that you learned about earlier. Why?
Cellular phones are on an ultra high frequency (remember?).
You need a device that picks up ultra high frequencies.
Remember when you went on that trip and everyone called you
stupid for bringing a portable TV? Then you felt stupid
because the TV sucked? Well watching programs is not the
only thing that you can do with a portable TV.
There should be 2 settings on your portable TV, VhF and
UhF. You want to set it to UhF. You want a high channel,
somewhere between 80-85. You should now be able to pick up
cellular phone conversations.
Hacking(1) Answering Machines
Forget what anybody said about it not being possible hack answering machines anymore. They are wrong. It is still
possible to hack answering machines, in fact it is very simple too.
(1)that's hack in the context of "hey, the door's locked, I'll try to hack it open." It has nothing to do with computer
hacking. This is a phreaking tutorial, remember?
Why It's Possible To Hack Answering Machines
Most answering machines have a feature on on them called "remote access". Remote access allows the owner of the answering
machine to check his messages from any phone, anywhere. Think of it as ghetto voicemail.
How We Can Hack Them
To use remote access, the user of the answering machine will dial up the phone that the machine is connected to. When the
"not home" message comes on, he will then enter a special numerical code that will bring him to a menu where he can check
his messages, delete them, change the "not home" message, etc...What we try to do is hack this numerical code.
Times are a changin'
As you already know from the scanning section, newer cordless phones
cannot be scanned. In other areas of phreaking this sort of thing is
also happening. New technologies come out which are almost phreak
proof. This is true in the area of answering machine hacking. Newer answering machines can be hacked, but it is hard and
Don't get so down, that was the bad news, but here's the good news. Hacking older answering machines is not tedious at
all, in fact it's rather easy. Plus, there's a good chance when phreaking, you'll hit an older machine. Why? People don't
generally replace their answering machines very often. When someone buys an answering machine, he isn't conscious that
he'll need too replace in the future as he does with a car or a computer.
Well, now to the answering machines!
Now the reason you should only hack older machines is that they only use a 2 digit code. Newer ones however, use a 4 digit
You see, there really is no real "art" to answering machine hacking. It's all just trial and error. The way to crack the
2 digit code to an older answering machine is just to simply try every 2 digit combination there is. On a newer machine
you would try every 4 digit combo, and that's what I mean when I say "extremely tedious".
Trying every two digit combo is not that hard, as there only 100. But it gets easier. On certain AT&T models, one digit
can represent the last letter of one combo, and the first of another. Also, extra digits are not required (instead of
entering "05", just plain "5" will do). Which means if you hit this kind of machine you'll only have to enter about half of
the digits of a regular answering machine (these models are uncommon so don't bet on finding
too many). Don't understand? well think about this next example:
On a regular machine this would register as two combinations, 12 and 34. But on one of the rare AT&T models I just
mentioned, it would register as four combinations: 01, 12, 23, 34. Simple, here is the digit string you would enter to
crack this kind of answering machine:
here's an easier to read version:
Well, not everyone is lucky enough to hit an answering machine like this. So what do you if you hit a regular answering?
You simply enter every 2-digit combo there is (01, 02, 03...97, 98, 99), simple enough that you don't need instructions,
right? Well here's just one tip. You might want to consider using a radio shack tone dialer as they have 0% chance of
error, basically, unlike you they won't screw up.
Once you're in, each key (1-9) has a function (play messages, record greeting, etc...). This varies from model to model,
so you'll have to figure it out yourself.
Let's get one thing straight
Hacking is a verb. It is something that one who hacks does. When a program is written to exploit a security hole, it is
called a hack. Something a Hacker does is hacking. Something he uses for hacking is a hack. Everyone is clear on that.
But something people are not clear on is phreaking. Phreaking is a verb. It is something that one who phreaks does.
However, most people refer to one who phreaks as a phreak, not a phreaker. When you discover a security hole in the phone
system, and you use something to exploit it, what do you call it? The correct terminology for something like that should
be "a phreak". One who phreaks should be called a phreaker. There you have it. Plain and simple. Something a Phreaker
does is phreak. Something he uses for phreaking is a phreak. Is everyone clear now?
"AT&T's Worst Enemy"
on January 15, 1990, the AT&T system crashed. it was down for about 9 hours. thousands of calls could not be completed.
The crash was not due to a hacker, a phreaker, the system physically breaking, or anything else like that. the hard truth
in fact was that the system was its own worst enemy.
the system was designed flawlessly. It was made up of thousands upon thousands of individual switches all part of one
gigantic network. These switches did the same work that a human operator in say- the 60's would do. Except the switches
were smaller, faster, and much more efficient. If one switch went down for any reason, instead of trying to fix itself it
would just reset itself and it would go back up again. while the switch is down, its calls would be redirected to its
neighboring switches. when the switch went back up, its neighboring switches would stop taking its calls, and take note
that the switch that went down is back up. This might seem like a big process, but we're talking about computers here, and
the whole process only took about 4-6 seconds. This sounds like a great idea, the people who designed must have thought of
everything, right?. Wrong. Let us be clear on the fact that one switch is just one in a gigantic network, it can't do
<italics>everything</italics> at once. Here's the clincher...the turning point....the real problem with the system. If a
switch records that its neighboring switch just went back up, it cannot do many other things at the same time. So if the
switch is hit with more calls than it can handle, (keep in mind its taking its calls, and its neighboring switch's calls)
it will go down too. Ultimately setting off a chain reaction. And the more switches that go down, the more calls the
other switches have to take, giving them a bigger chance of going down.
This is roughly what happened on January 15, 1990.
All it took was one switch to go down, which caused more and more to go down. And in the end, crashing the system. AT&T
sure learned a lesson, no matter
how great, how amazing, how flawless a new technology is, it will always have
it's drawbacks, and there will always be something that can and will go wrong.
i got most of this info from the book, "The Hacker Crackdown", by Bruce
Sterling. It's a cool book, you should read it.
"In The Beginning...."
If you read the postings in any phreaking newsgroup, you notice that once in a while a newcomer will ask something like
"When did this crazy game called phreaking actually begin?". Someone will usually reply with something like "The
eighties". Someone will correct him and say "The sixties or seventies". The truth is that neither of these replies are
correct. You see, as long as there have been phones, there has been phreaking.
As early as 1878, since Bell, the first phone company went into operation, they had problems with phreakers.
The stereotype of a telephone operator is tall, attractive, courteous woman. However this did not come until almost a
century later. The original operators that were first hired in 1878 were teenage boys who got the job because they were
intelligent and interested in the technologies of the times (do you sense another stereotype?). Bell soon learned that
this was a terrible mistake.
In addition to being terribly rude to the callers, these teenage boys would cause a lot of trouble. They would take breaks
when ever they wanted, leaving the phone system unaided, as it was dependant on human operators to make it function. They
would play around with switches, disconnecting calls and crossing lines. Anytime they wanted, they would listen in on
calls. It seems that the combination of power anonymity and intelligence would turn well mannered boys into "Wild
Indians", as Bell's Chief Engineer once referred to them as.
"Is This The End?"
As you have seen throughout this tutorial, many new products are coming out that are "anti-phreak". One by one, topics of
interest to phreakers are drying up and dying because there is just nothing to do with them (phreak wise that is).
Phreakers have less and less to discuss- and well that brings to something else. It's not just that the technology- it's
the phreakers themselves. They're less and less. You always see newbies striving to become hackers, but never phreakers.
People who are phreakers drop out because they feel there is nothing left. No one writes tutorials anymore, and people who
do well- they're getting lazier. I've seen pages upon pages just on a beige box. Recently, I've seen one sentence, im not
joking, a one sentence box plan for a beige box. All of our info is either outdated, or not concise enough. It's not just
the technology, it's not just the phreakers, it's everything. Phreaking has been around for an excess of 120 years. And
it's very possible that phreaking is on the dawn of the fourth stage of life which sadly enough is- death. Everything
comes back to the unanswered question- "Is this the end of phreaking as we know it?"