TAP No. 24 - December 1973
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(C) Youth Hot Line Reports, Inc. 1973 Movement groups may reprint with TAP's address, and please send us copy of reprinted work. Published for informational purposes only by Youth Hot Line Reports, Inc.
REPORT ON TOLL FRAUD DETECTORS
It is now widely acknowledged that Phone Phreaks have contributed greatly to society. For example, we have been regarded by AT&T as "a threat to national security". This has been of service to our President in his more trying moments of attempting to rationalize his grand larceny of the Bill of Rights. We have similarly enabled AT&T to blame rising phone rates partly on us. And now it seems that we are putting people to work making devices to catch us. A definite contribution to the nation's economy!
The most obvious way to eliminate Blue Boxing is to change the frequencies. Fortunately, that's impossible. The whole fucking world has adopted MF (multi frequency) as the standard. So the next thing tried was to detect the 2600 Hz. tone, which is normally not present on customer phone lines, or even between certain Central Offices (C. 0.) Teltronics (we printed their credit card # in Issue 20) has a FFF-100 Fone Freak Foiler for detecting 2600 Hz. tones longer than .1, .2, or .5 seconds (selectable). Two units are mounted on a card for rack mounting in a C. O. for $98. For $350 they sell a PFFF-1 Portable Fone Freak Foiler that also has two channels and is smaller than a breadbox. When activated by a 2600 Hz. tone, it closes a relay that can be hooked up to a tape recorder, alarm bell, fuse, etc. It can also be wired to disconnect your line, too.
Dianatek makes a $295 SF and KP counter. It only responds when it hears 2600 (SF or Single Frequency) followed by Key Pulse within the next 20 seconds. Since most senders time out by 20 seconds, you can't beat it by blowing off and then counting to 20 before KP. This means that it won't be fooled by false alarms of people picking up their phones, dialing long distance information and whistling. However, it also won't respond to SF fraud, done by sending pulses of 2600 for each digit. SF is still around in some places and we'll report on it soon as receive info on it.
Hekimian Laboratories (301 424-3160) sells a $4000. 51A Dialed Number Recorder. It records on paper tape like an adding machine, noting such trivia as every time you pick up the phone or hang it up, every call you receive, and the exact numbers you dial or touch-tone. Oh, yes it notes when 2600 appears on the line above -31 dBm in volume. Time is kept by an internal clock with the date, and for a measly $1000 you can add Multi-frequency printout so that all Blue Boxed numbers will be recorded. It can also activate other equipment like the others. A remote signal extender allows the Recorder to be used at a point that is not connected by a DC loop, such as over carrier (and multiplexed) facilities. 5000 calls can be recorder before the paper tape has to be replaced, so don't hesitate to jiggle the switchhook before you go to sleep tonite!
Northeast Electronics makes a similar Dialed Number Recorder, a little less expensive, and a capacity for only 500 calls on a roll of tape. Voiceprint labs has another but it doesn't even detect 2600 unless you fork over another $200 (after the initial $2000).
Bramco (513 773-8271) makes cheapie tone decoders that you'd have to modify to turn into a fraud detector.
Hekimian also makes a Black Box detector that detects voice currents on a line which is not drawing "off-hook" current from the C. O. It also has a 2600 detector that is used to prevent "Reverse Sig" boxes, which simulate a black box by sending 2600 back to the caller. Information on Reverse Supervision boxes will be forthcoming. As for Red Boxes, the Phone Company is relying on operator's ears. A lamp is usually able to tell if coins are present, but only when an operator manually collects or returns (or tries to) coins. Still, operators are so used to broken equipment that you can usually act indignant if they get suspicious and get away with it. The trick is not to have them collect or return money when there isn't any.
Bell's had their own stuff for a while, like a 2600 detector which activated a normal tape recorder. They would then use the tapes in court. And the Dialed Number Recorders are just fancy versions of the old Pen Register. A computer program that counts 800 calls for normal statistical data is now used to call attention to excessive or long 800 calls or 555-1212 calls. Suspects get 2600 detectors placed on their lines as the next step. Bell's own stuff was all designed to be compatible with the rest of the system, thus their 2600 detectors have "talk-off" protection. Though some 2600 detectors have a narrow acceptance bandwidth around the center frequency, in this case 2600, Bell's have an additional feature which rejects as false all 2600's that are accompanied by other sounds. These can be bypassed by using guard tones, also coming up soon in TAP, but the poor quality of all the other manufacturers doesn't allow the use of guard (because they don't use talk-off).
All of these units work, and they all have limitations. Obviously, putting filters in all of the phone lines in the country is too expensive. Even putting in filters at points of concentration that all lines must go through is rough, and will take time. These would probably be set up to drop a call rather than trace it in order to discourage further phreak activity. This would be a definite bummer.
But we have one hope, and that is that we must rely on the inflated egos of Bell's crack security force. These dudes know damn well that putting in filters and even the detectors won't earn them any points with the top brass. If Bell's own security can't stop phone phreaks, what the hell are they on the precious payroll for? If any agents are reading this, and we know they are, we hope they ask themselves that question and get to work finding us with their own ingenuity, IF THEY CAN!
Bob Kitzinger of Illinois Bell Telephone admits they spend more to catch us than they get back. One day, Bob, even JTD might be forced by the biggies to abandon this charade, along with the clowns. But Bob knows this and that's why phone phreaks have hope. If Bob gets every phreak in Illinois he'll be out of a job. Yes, we'll hear rumors of busts and filters and detectors all over the place, and each time someone is caught a hundred papers will scream headlines, but in reality it will all be people like Bob who want job security, being PR people rather than recommending the most effective methods to their superiors and being replaced by a machine. We don't blame you, Bob.
How do we get around the detectors that are around? By using common sense. Don't use home phones for Blue Box calls. Don't have a "favorite" booth for Red or Blue Box calls. Don't stay on long on Black Box calls. Without calling attention to yourself, try to find out what the story is in your local C. O. This is possible by asking your Business rep. what kind of switching system you've got. They tell you sometimes, if you say you just read an article about ESS (Electronic Switching System), and you're doing a report for school. Get a job or have a friend get a job at your C. O. And keep all calls, even from pay phones, under 10 minutes and even less if possible. You can make twice as many calls safely if they're half as long.
Try this gem: Use a Red Box to call a cheap long distance number, and beep off to Blue Box Land! At the end of the call, give the operator her money. Why use a Blue Box if you've got a Red Box? Europe, Australia and Africa, for example! Most booths won't hold enough Red Box $. If a Blue Box Detector records your call, there's a chance that the number you box will also be taped. So be sure to call only cool people, or amnesiacs, or corporations. However, the most important security precaution you can take is to watch what you say. More phreaks have been caught because of big mouths than anything else. Before they put a detector on your line, they have to suspect you, right? Don't brag about your black box when people you don't trust are within earshot. Bob says, "Most ot our help on Black Boxes comes from informants". Don't tell your friend that you just called them with a hot credit card or a red box or the operator may hear you. Just act like every phone you're on is tapped, If you subscribe to TAP, they probably are.
TAP No. 24 - December 1973