Protecting Personal Information from Hackers

July 29, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. surveillance [ser-VEY-luh ns, -VEYL-yuh ns] (n.) – the act of observing a person or group, usually by police authority
Example: The government agency used hidden cameras to monitor people under surveillance.

2. content [KON-tent] (n.) – the subject matter of a message, conversation, or discussion
Example: The investigators looked into the contents of the email for possible evidence.

3. hacker [HAK-er] (n.) – the person who accesses data in a system or computer without permission
Example: The hackers secretly accessed the bank’s computer to get some confidential information.

4. means [meen] (n.) – a method in which something is done
Example: The Internet has provided people different means of communication.

5. sensitive [SEN-si-tiv] (adj.) – kept secret or private to avoid risking security dangers
Example: John was fired after revealing the company’s sensitive information online.


Read the text below.
The US government stressed that it only monitors metadata [meta-DEY-tuh] as part of its extensive surveillance after many people wondered why it goes through countless of emails and phone call data.

Metadata provide only limited details about email and phone transactions. This kind of data contains only the information about the receiver, sender, date, and size of the email. Metadata also give information about the time of the call, the location of the caller, and the cell tower used.

With metadata defined, the government claimed that it did not access the content of the emails and phone calls it monitored. Police authorities and intelligence agencies use these metadata to easily track down criminals and terrorists.

However, metadata can also be used negatively by hackers. These hackers can use metadata to get financial and personal information by matching the obtained details to other online sources.

Because of such threat, Bill Supernor, CTO of an Internet security firm, suggested basic means to protect one’s personal information. He suggested that people use more random passwords that are different from the ones used in social media, such as names of pet, property, family, and address. Supernor also advised not to include confidential and very important information in emails and text messages.

Lastly, Supernor wants everyone to know that privacy and confidentiality are not secured on the Internet.  Thus, everyone should protect sensitive information in any way possible, especially when communicating through the Internet.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, should people be concerned about metadata? Why or why not?
·         What risks can occur if the government continues to monitor people’s emails and phone calls? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         Aside from password protection, how can we prevent hackers from getting into our personal information?
·         How do you think the government can help in preventing hacking activities? Please explain your answer.


July 29, 2013