The telephone system was already established as a vital and universal means of communication when phone phreaks discovered its weaknesses. In the Information Age, as society becomes ever more reliant upon electronic telecommunication, the potential for this kind of exploitation occurring is a very real danger. The phone company's mistakes serve as an important example of how the decision to design a system of such huge proportions to use such simple technology can backfire, and lead to complete loss of control.
The root of the system's weakness lay in its consistency and its reliance
on automation. The advantage to such uniformity is the ease with which the
system can be utilized; at the same time, this consistency makes the entire
system vulnerable to abuse. The phone company used fewer than a dozen frequencies
to control the entire long-distance switching network, and designed their
equipment in such a way that anyone could simulate these frequencies with
ease. In an attempt to simplify and automate a vast communications infrastructure,
they compromised the integrity of the entire system.