18 episodes

Electricity.
Finance.
Transportation.
Our water supply.

In Hack the Plant, podcast host Bryson Bort looks for answers to the question: Does connecting these systems, and others, to the internet leaves us more vulnerable to attacks by our enemies?

We often take these critical infrastructure systems for granted, but they’re all becoming increasingly dependent on the internet to function.

Because an attack on our critical infrastructure, the degradation to the point that they can no longer support us, means that we go back to the stone age, literally overnight.

Hack the Plant is a podcast of the R Street Institute, a free market think tank in Washington D.C., and ICS Village, a nonprofit that equips industry experts and policymakers with the tools to better defend our critical infrastructure. Episodes release on the last Monday of every month.

Hack the Plant Bryson Bort

    • Technology
    • 5.0 • 14 Ratings

Electricity.
Finance.
Transportation.
Our water supply.

In Hack the Plant, podcast host Bryson Bort looks for answers to the question: Does connecting these systems, and others, to the internet leaves us more vulnerable to attacks by our enemies?

We often take these critical infrastructure systems for granted, but they’re all becoming increasingly dependent on the internet to function.

Because an attack on our critical infrastructure, the degradation to the point that they can no longer support us, means that we go back to the stone age, literally overnight.

Hack the Plant is a podcast of the R Street Institute, a free market think tank in Washington D.C., and ICS Village, a nonprofit that equips industry experts and policymakers with the tools to better defend our critical infrastructure. Episodes release on the last Monday of every month.

    INL - Wind energy and cybersecurity challenges

    INL - Wind energy and cybersecurity challenges

    Wind energy is one of the most rapidly growing energy generation sources in the United States - how can these renewable systems stay resilient in the face of cyber attacks as the industry grows?

    In this episode, we hear from Megan Culler and Keith Mecham of Idaho National Labs (or INL). Megan Culler is a Power Engineer and Researcher; Keith Mecham is a Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Engineer.

    INL is a Federally funded research and development center (FFRDC): public-private partnerships which conduct research and development for the United States Government. They operate large infrastructure security programs that include wind, power, and telecommunication, as well as provide engineering and development support to the federal government.

    How does wind fit into our broader energy infrastructure? What threats does cybersecurity present to renewable energy? How can industry work tougher for policymakers to keep our systems secure? Join us as we discuss these questions, and more.

    “A big risk is people just don't understand the risks with these types of systems. I think that's starting to change, as we have larger and larger energy companies that already understand cybersecurity jumping into wind. We have projects from Royal Dutch Shell and BP and other energy companies. They're setting up huge wind farms, especially offshore. They understand cybersecurity because of their refineries and pipeline systems, better than a startup does. And we hope we see more of that bring some maturity to the industry.”
    -Keith Mecham

    • 41 min
    Cyber Challenges to Securing Our Electric System - California and Beyond

    Cyber Challenges to Securing Our Electric System - California and Beyond

    How can our electrical grid system anticipate cybersecurity attacks? What is the nature of its vulnerability to attack, and what role can regulation play in securing our future?

    In this episode, we hear from David Coher, leader of Southern California Edison’s (SCE) Energy Contract Management team, which manages their long-term energy procurement contracts (approximately $4 billion, annually). David is an attorney, who moved from real estate litigation to SCE where he established programs for cybersecurity, participation in California’s Greenhouse Gas emissions Cap & Trade market, and Dodd-Frank compliance.

    We discussed how the power grid works and the changing landscape of keeping our energy grids safe from cyber attacks. We also explored the challenges of establishing a regulatory compliance program - in particular how to anticipate cybersecurity threats.

    What is next for SCE? What are some potential opportunities and threats on the horizon for the safety of our electric grid? Join us to learn more.

    • 40 min
    Innovation in Critical Infrastructure

    Innovation in Critical Infrastructure

    “We had to go out and talk to experts and just have the conversations and then be brutally honest about what those people were telling us about the problem. In many cases, we didn't even tell them what we were thinking about doing. We would call them up and say, "How are you securing your industrial control systems today?" and just listen.” - Joshua Steinman

    “We really learned to go in, us. Instead of imposing what we thought the problem would be for other asset owners, really let them tell us what their problems were. So that was probably one of the biggest takeaways during the customer discovery. And it was also great to hear that a lot of people had, I would say, some similar problems across different industry verticals. And everyone knew that there needed to be some change and wanted to see change. So that was also very refreshing for me.” -Brandon Park

    What are the biggest challenges in critical infrastructure cybersecurity? In this episode of Hack the Plant, we hear from two entrepreneurs, Joshua Steinman & Brandon Park, who just did a 7 month long customer discovery process trying to understand where the key problems are now to keep our ICS systems safe from cyber threats.

    J​​oshua Steinman is a former naval officer, ICS cybersecurity startup founder, and cybersecurity policy senior director during the Trump administration.

    Brandon Park formerly worked at Amazon as a Security Engineer focused on securing ICS at scale. Prior to Amazon, he supported Department of Defense and Department of Energy projects.

    Their conversations spanned from ICS cybersecurity experts to operators to executives at companies with large footprints in the space - and led to some surprising and unexpected insights that have led to the launch of something called Galvanick.

    How can this make our ICS more safe, reliable, or cyber-resilient? Join us to learn more.

    • 51 min
    AI and Critical Infrastructure

    AI and Critical Infrastructure

    When will hard infrastructure have machine learning capabilities? It might be sooner than you think. Ariel Stern, formerly an engineer in the Israeli Ministry of Defense and a civil infrastructure project manager, currently CEO of Ayyeka, which offers remote monitoring for industrial Internet of Things (IoT) systems. Ariel has a forward-looking approach to creating resilience in critical infrastructure…anticipating that we are entering a new era for critical infrastructure….from IoT data creation, management, and analysis to advanced Artificial Intelligence pattern recognition and prediction.

    Is this science fiction? Join us to learn how the technology that can create resilient infrastructure for tomorrow is here - today.

    • 29 min
    Biden Admin's Cybersecurity Executive Order

    Biden Admin's Cybersecurity Executive Order

    In the wake of ransomware attacks drawing national attention, including Solar Winds, Colonial Pipeline and more, the Biden Administration issued an Executive Order “On Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity.”

    We take a deep dive into the EO, and what it means for public and private efforts to keep our critical infrastructure safe with two attorneys and cybersecurity experts.

    Megan Brown is a Partner at Wiley Rein. She has deep expertise in cybersecurity and data privacy issues, working for national and global companies on cutting edge compliance and risk management.

    Liz Wharton the Chief of Staff at SCYTHE where she serves as a strategic advisor for the CEO and leadership team, building and maintaining cross-department relationships, crafting external initiatives, and driving day-to-day projects and tasks. Previously she was the Senior Assistant City Attorney with the City of Atlanta, where she served on the immediate incident response team for the City of Atlanta’s ransomware incident.

    • 39 min
    ERCOT and the Texas Power Outage

    ERCOT and the Texas Power Outage

    In February, severe winter storms and an electricity generation failure left almost 5 million people in Texas without power, leading to hundreds of deaths, and a shortage of heat, food and water. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers. How did the massive power failure happen? What does this power outage suggest about the resilience of our critical infrastructure?

    Beth Garza, former director of ERCOT and senior fellow at the R Street Institute, answers these questions and more. Over the course of her 35-year career in the electric utility industry, Beth Garza has held a variety of leadership roles in generation and transmission planning, system operations, regulatory affairs and market design for both regulated and competitive entities.

    • 32 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
14 Ratings

14 Ratings

MAwantshappyhour ,

Well that was unsettling

Important but not for the faint of heart.

ShoshanaW ,

Really fun podcast for cyber and national security

It’s hard to make these fun or understandable if you’re not in it, but he does a great job.

Jlangas ,

Hack The Planet

Can’t wait to listen to what other topics Bryson and his guests jump into. Great show for a great cause that is important to each and every single person.

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