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Home » Hacking News » Key hacker magazine closes down

Key hacker magazine closes down

by Nikola Strahija on July 12th, 2005 The in-house magazine of the digital underground, Phrack is closing after 20 years as its editorial team steps down.


The magazine was hugely influential in the early days of hacker culture, it was very closely associated with legendary hacking groups such as the Legion of Doom. As hackers moved from dial-up bulletin boards on to the net, the magazine kept its place as a knowledgeable, and often scurrilous, source of security information.

For instance, issue 62 of Phrack contained articles about getting round Windows buffer overflow protections, advances in Windows shellcode, attacking Apache and hijacking wireless base stations.

The deadline for sending in articles for the last issue is 10 July. To commemorate Phrack's final appearance, issue 63 will be a hardback edition available at the Defcon and WhatTheHack2005 hacker conventions.

The first issue of Phrack was published on 11 November 1985 and much of the information it detailed was about phreaking - essentially hacking the phone system.

This was because in 1985 the only place hackers talked to each other was via dial-up bulletin board systems. At that time the net was almost an entirely academic, governmental and military network. Commercial use of it was prohibited.

Phrack originated on a bulletin board known as Metal Shop. Phrack's main contributors, Taran King and Knight Lightning, boosted its popularity by writing profiles of well-known hackers, such as Erik Bloodaxe and The Mentor, and searching out articles that expanded
people's knowledge of how telephone and computer networks worked.

The magazine got caught up in the series of raids on hackers and hacker groups that took place in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Phrack editor Knight Lightning, aka Craig Neidorf, was arrested, charged with fraud and tried before a grand jury for reprinting most of a confidential document, known as the E911 document, stolen from the Bell South telephone company. Bell South claimed that the confidential E911 document contained sensitive information and put its value at $80,000.

The case became a cause celebre for the digital underground and Mr Neidorf's defence was organised by the fledgling Electronic Frontier Foundation. The case against Mr Neidorf collapsed when it was shown that the E911 paper could be ordered by phone from Bell South for only $13.

Bruce Sterling, author and digital lifestyle guru who wrote about Phrack in his 1992 book The Hacker Crackdown, thought it unlikely that the magazine would disappear for ever.

Ollie from Phrack said that the team would be happy to hand it over to a new group that wanted to start it up again.


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