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   phreaker was greeted by an automated message asking for the employee's

   telephone extension--which also served as the password. Well, that was

   easy enough. The phreaker simply tried a series of numbers until he

   found one which actually worked.

  

   Occasionally, a PABX system didn't even have passwords. The managers

   of the PABX figured that keeping the phone number secret was good

   enough security. Sometimes phreakers made free calls out of PABXes

   simply by exploited security flaws in a particular model or brand of

   PABX. A series of specific key presses allowed the phreaker to get in

   without knowing a password, an employee's name, or even the name of

   the company for that matter.

  

   As a fashionable pastime on BBSes, phreaking began to surpass hacking.

   PI established a private phreaking section. For a while, it became

   almost old hat to call yourself a hacker. Phreaking was forging the

   path forward.

  

   Somewhere in this transition, the Phreakers Five sprung to life. A

   group of five hackers-turned-phreakers gathered in an exclusive group

   on PI. Tales of their late-night podding adventures leaked into the

   other areas of the BBS and made would-be phreakers green with

   jealousy.

  

   First, the phreakers would scout out a telephone pod--the grey steel,

   rounded box perched nondescriptly on most streets. Ideally, the chosen

   pod would be by a park or some other public area likely to be deserted

   at night. Pods directly in front of suburban houses were a bit

   risky--the house might contain a nosy little old lady with a penchant

   for calling the local police if anything looked suspicious. And what

   she would see, if she peered out from behind her lace curtains, was a

   small tornado of action.

  

   One of the five would leap from the van and open the pod with a key

   begged, borrowed or stolen from a Telecom technician. The keys seemed

   easy enough to obtain. The BBSes message boards were rife with gleeful

   tales of valuable Telecom equipment, such as 500 metres of cable or a

   pod key, procured off a visiting Telecom repairman either through

   legitimate means or in exchange for a six-pack of beer.

  

   The designated phreaker would poke inside the pod until he found

   someone else's phone line. He'd strip back the cable, whack on a pair

   of alligator clips and, if he wanted to make a voice call, run it to a

   linesman's handset also borrowed, bought or stolen from Telecom. If he

   wanted to call another computer instead of talking voice, he would

   need to extend the phone line back to the phreakers' car. This is

   where the 500 metres of Telecom cable came in handy. A long cable

   meant the car, containing five anxious, whispering young men and a

   veritable junkyard of equipment, would not have to sit next to the pod

   for hours on end. That sort of scene might look a little suspicious to

   a local resident out walking his or her dog late one night.

  

   The phreaker ran the cable down the street and, if possible, around

   the corner. He pulled it into the car and attached it to the waiting

   computer modem. At least one of the five was proficient enough with

   electronics hardware to have rigged up the computer and modem to the

   car battery. The Phreaker's Five could now call any computer without

   being traced or billed. The phone call charges would appear at the end

   of a local resident's phone bill. Telecom did not itemise residential

   telephone bills at the time. True, it was a major drama to zoom around