Phreakers are hackers who specialize in attacks on the telephone system. Phreakers originally referred to groups who reverse-engineered the system of tones used to route long-distance calls. Phreakers re-created these tones, enabling them to switch calls from their phone handset and make free calls to anywhere in the world. Phreaking essentially ended in 1983 when telephone companies upgraded their lines to common channel interoffice signaling (CCIS), which separated signaling from the voice line. Modern phreaking involves breaking into and manipulating the phone company’s computer system, making it specialized hacking. Phreaking is distinct from “phone hacking,” which uses telephone technology to steal information.
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