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Long-lived hacker mag shuts down

Long-lived hacker mag shuts down
Long-lived hacker mag shuts down 

By Will Sturgeon 
Special to CNET
July 11, 2005

Hacker magazine Phrack is to close its doors after almost 20 years
serving the darker side of the Internet and communications community.

Yet the antivirus and security industries are coming out to say they
will be sorry to see the back of the title that was run by, and for
the benefit of, those they seek to thwart.

In its earliest days, the magazine dealt with issues such as phone
"phreaking," or cracking the telephone networks to make long-distance
calls, for example. In later times, it became a community space for
those writing malicious code and sharing exploit information.

Its popularity was a bonus for those involved in the war against
cybercrime, and its disappearance will remove the most immediate
insight into the thinking of the hacker community.

Pete Simpson, ThreatLab manager at security company Clearswift, said
he is very surprised to see Phrack disappear. He added that a world
without the journal is actually less secure.

"Phrack's visibility was a blessing in disguise, pretty much in the
same way as the Full Disclosure community," Simpson said, referring to
the unmoderated Full Disclosure forum for disclosure of security

In the past, some hackers have brought about their own downfall by
feeling the need to brag about what they have done and what they are
capable of. The loss of Phrack will certainly remove a coveted

But Simpson believes something else will inevitably come in to fill
the gap left behind.

"If Phrack as an organ does disappear, then I would expect new outlets
to pop up and fill the information void," Simpson said. "There must be
younger hackers able and willing to take up the mantle."

Simon Perry, a security strategy executive at Computer Associates
International, said: "Phrack closing its doors does reduce some
visibility into the thoughts of the 'dark side.'"
Previous Next While it will always be possible to find anything
relating to hacking "if you search long and hard enough" online, Perry
said, "Phrack was great as a 'one-stop shop.'"

And as long as both sides of the fight knew what and where that shop
was, it created a more level playing field.

But Perry added that a lack of clarity about why Phrack has made this
decision could still be a cause of concern.

"I note that even on their Web site they say they might be back in
2006 or 2007," he said. That could indicate they "have something
better to do" in the meantime, which may make for a case of 'watch
this space' for the security industry, he added.

The 63rd and final edition of Phrack will come out as a hardback
collectors copy and will be available to attendees at the DefCon
conference in Las Vegas between July 29 and 31, as well as at the What
The Hack conference in the Netherlands from July 28 to 31.

Will Sturgeon of reported from London.

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