• English Listening and Comprehension: Hacking and Computer Viruses

    Earlier today I asked our Facebook followers what they would like my next topic to be for our English blog, and one of them suggested hacking. At first I thought she was suggesting that our site had been hacked or something, but then I realized that this was, in fact, a great topic for our blog.

    Because we give our English classes via Skype, we tend to get a lot of technology savvy students, especially people with IT and programming backgrounds. So naturally, the subject of hacking should be interesting to many of you.

    But even if you’re not that interested in IT, technology and hacking, I’ve found a great TED video about hacking that should be interesting to just about anyone. In the video, Mikko Hypponen gives a brief history of one of the darker sides of hacking, the writing of computer viruses. He talks about meeting the writers of the first virus ever found, and the new, the criminal networks that encourage virus writing now, and the new and dangerous viruses that are infecting our computers.

    Why you should listen to Mikko Hypponen:

    The chief research officer at F-Secure Corporation in Finland, Mikko Hypponen has led his team through some of the largest computer virus outbreaks in history. His team took down the world-wide network used by the Sobig.F worm. He was the first to warn the world about the Sasser outbreak, and he has done classified briefings on the operation of the Stuxnet worm — a hugely complex worm designed to sabotage Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities.

    As a few hundred million more Internet users join the web from India and China and elsewhere, and as governments and corporations become more sophisticated at using viruses as weapons, Hypponen asks, what’s next? Who will be at the front defending the world’s networks from malicious software? His work offers a peek into the post-Stuxnet future.

    Below you’ll find a video of Mikko’s TED talk, as well as several listening questions. English is not Mikko’s native language, and, although he speaks it very well, we ask about two of his mistakes in the questions. Here are some vocabulary words you may want to check before listening to the video: Connectivity, Malware, Monetize, Encryption.

    Enjoy the video, and please contact us if you’d like to take an English class based on this video and the questions below.


    How does Mikko think our generation will be remembered by historians hundreds of years from now?

    What are the problems with the internet?

    What is the first virus ever?

    Where did it come from?

    Who opened the door at the home in Pakistan?

    Who wrote the original viruses?

    Who writes them now?

    What is GangstaBucks?

    What are key loggers?

    We now have a whole _______ _____ ____ and business ecosystem _____ _____ online crime.

    What grammar mistake does Mikko make at 8:36 (it’s a preposition error)?

    What was unusual about the 20 year old blogger in St. Petersburg?

    How did he catch the hacker?

    What mistake does he make at 13:32?

    Why is Stuxnet so dangerous?

    What does he think we need to do now?




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