Word of the Week

Ok. Today the BBC reported that Microsoft has confirmed that over 10,000 of its Hotmail e-mail accounts have been compromised, victims of a phishing attack (click here for the story).  While all of us who have not lived in a bubble for the past 10 years have heard of the term “phishing,” how many have heard of the term that Wikipedia credits as its parent, “phreaking”?  Phreaking is a term that is generally used to describe mostly nefarious attempts to manipulate audio frequencies and gain control of the telephone system.  It has become synonomous with computer hacking, especially because computer modems did a remarkable job running “code hack programs” designed to gain access to calling cards.  With advances in telephonic technology, traditional phreaking activities have become ineffective and  have gone the way of the dodo.  According to Wikipedia, the term phreaking is “a portmanteau of the words ‘phone’ and ‘freak’, and may also refer to the use of various audio frequencies to manipulate a phone system.”  Famous phreaks include Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs of Apple Computer fame (although I’m sure that they did not contribute to any unethical behavior).  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phreaking for more information.

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