The Phrack ezine – Electronic hacking culture magazine

What is Phrack ezine?

In the 1980s and 1990s, the hacking culture was gaining momentum. Coinciding with the same era, Phrack ezine was introduced as an aid for Hackers worldwide. 

Phrack ezine is an electronically operated underground magazine written by hackers. It is specially written for computer security professionals and hackers. It holds special significance in the hacking culture and is one of the oldest and longest running hacker magazines. Since the early days of hacking culture, Phrack ezine is considered as one of the most essential sources of information for hacking professionals.

This magazine is open for contributions from writers and hackers who are eager to publish their work and share their unique ideas of the area of interest. 

Origin and founders:

The first edition of Phrack ezine was published on 17 November 1985. It was founded by two people, better known by their pen names, Taran King and Knight Lightning. Both of the founders also did most of the editing for their magazines and edited upto 30 articles. Initially these editions were published in a bulletin board called Metal shop where Taran King worked as an administrator. Later, the editions were widely copied by other board systems. The headquarters of Phrack are located in Austin, Texas. 

Sum and substance

Phrack provides insight on the following subjects and topics to the hacking community:

  • Phreaking: Phreaking is the process to hack, experiment and explore telecommunications. 
  • Software Cracking: This is the process of altering a software to disable or remove features.
  • Hacking: This is a method by which computer experts can obtain unauthorized access to another computer, software or data.
  • Computer security: It is gaining protection against theft and damage in computer networks and softwares.
  • Cryptography: It is conversion of plain or simple data into encrypted code messages to prevent third-party interventions.

With all these topics discussed in Phrack, it was considered a guideline for the hackers and was also called a handbook and manifesto for all hackers.

The regular editions of Phrack ezine also contain news and updates of the hacker community, they also featured an influential hacker from underground and testimonies of hackers all over the world.

Legal trials

Phrack ezine had to encounter a legal challenge in February 1989. The contributors and editors of Phrack reprinted some confidential data information of BellSouth computers. This document was known as E911 which was worth $80,000. Knight Lightning was arrested and charged with fraud. A legal trail occurred. However, soon it was proven the document E911 could be bought for over $13 over a phone call at BellSouth. The case collapsed and Phrack ezine continued to thrive until 2005. 

It was declared Phrack was coming to an end with its 63rd edition. However, the 64th issue was published in 2007. 

Famous Articles of Phrack

Some of the most notable publications of Phrack include:

  • The Hacker manifesto:

It is written by a renowned hacker and computer security professional, The Mentor, as a guide for amateur hackers.

  • Smashing The Stack For Fun And Profit:

Written by an eminent computer scientist, Aleph One, this article gives an introduction and guide to stack buffer overflow.

  • The Art of Scanning:

This article by Fydoor introduced the audience with scanning options and tools of nmap Internet. 

Phrack ezine gained popularity in the initial years. It continued to grab public eye-balls with it’s interesting issues and headlines it made everyday. Lately, it has been irregular with it’s publications yet it achieved a milestone in the history of hacking culture. In years to come, we can hope for the revival of Phrack ezine.