THE BIBLE OF PHREAKING by Robert Trigaux
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 15, 1998
On the first Friday of each month, they gather by pay phones around
the globe to hone the art of hacking.
In Florida, hackers and wannabes might hang by the bank of phones
at the Fashion Square Mall food court in Orlando, or outside the
Victoria Station restaurant at Miamis Dadeland Shopping Center.
In Manhattan, its in the Citicorp Center lobby. In New Delhi,
the Priya Cinema Complex. In Munichs Hauptbahnhof, a train station,
by the Burger King.
At dozens of pay phone sites around the world, hackers meet to
swap gossip. They trade technical tips. They strut their latest
hacking triumphs. Or they just listen and learn.
Fridays pay-phone gathering is run by the bible of hackers, a
14-year-old magazine called 2600: The Hacker Quarterly. The magazine
used to be published on the sly as the guiding light of the fledgling
hacker underground. Now its so mainstream its available at the
magazine rack at Barnes & Noble and other newsstands, right next
to Internet Underground and other hacker publications.
The name 2600 refers to the 2600-cycle frequency that phone hackers
known as phreakers once used to open up Ma Bells phone lines.
Phreakers used to play the tone into pay phones, tricking them
into making their long-distance lines available for free.
2600 offices used to be raided by law enforcement; now the feds
subscribe to keep abreast of hacker trends. The Long Island, N.Y.,
magazine still touts articles like How to Steal Things and Snooping
Via MS-Mail. Online, 2600 operates a Web site (http://www.2600.com)
that celebrates hackers like the jailed Kevin Mitnick who, the
magazine protests, are unfairly targeted by the U.S. Secret Service.
Lately, 2600 has been beset by financial problems that the magazine
blames on its distributor and losses sustained in backing New
Yorks annual hacker convention, Beyond HOPE (Hackers of Planet
Earth). The editors of 2600 swear it will survive.
The magazine continues to be edited by Eric Corley, a hacker who
says people still are afraid to become subscribers. Only 3,000
people subscribe. Another 40,000 readers snap it off newsstands
when it is delivered.
Corley pleaded guilty in 1984 to charges of breaking into an e-mail
system owned by GTE Corp. For the past 10 years he has had his
own Tuesday evening radio show, Off the Hook, on WBAI in New York
To hackers and his radio listeners, Corley is better known by
his hacker handle, Emmanuel Goldstein. Thats the name of the
rebel leader in perhaps the ultimate anti-establishment novel,
George Orwells 1984.