CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Reporters' Roundtable: Our perilous infrastructure (podcast)

This week, an inconvenient truth: We're talking about our national infrastructure, and how it's a mess from a security perspective thanks in no small part to the Internet. With special guest, nuclear engineer Joe Weiss.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

This week, a bit of an inconvenient truth in our show: We're talking about our national infrastructure--power, water, transportation, and the like--and how it's kind of a mess from a security perspective thanks in no small part to the growth of the Internet. If you're a fan of reliable electricity and clean water you'll agree with me it's an important topic, and I think you'll find our discussion fascinating.

Our guests today to dive into this are first our security reporter, Elinor Mills, from CNET. And a special welcome to Joe Weiss, founder of Applied Control Solutions, which works with government agencies and utilities on infrastructure safety. Joe also spends a fair bit of time testifying before Congress on these issues. Previously Joe was a nuclear power engineer and technical manager at the Electric Power Research Institute, EPRI. His book, Protecting Industrial Control Systems from Electronic Threats, comes out next week.

Watch this: Our perilous infrastructure


iTunes (MP3)
iTunes (320x180)
iTunes (640x360)
Podcast RSS (MP3)
Podcast RSS (320x180)
Podcast RSS (640x360)

Show notes and talking points

What is a control system? How are they different now than before the Net?

What's the danger with the Internet?

Attacks vs. mistakes

Surely there are advantages? Cost, access, efficiency...

Joe says: Applying IT security solutions won't necessarily work in the critical-infrastructure world.

Talk about password protection etc.

Joe says: The average corporate network is more secure than any power plant or substation. How can that be?

Elinor: Do you hear about this at RSA etc.?

What is being done?

Examples Terry Childs (SF hacker) - Water treatment plant on the same SF city network

Transpo incidents

Electricity grid

Future, outlook, how to fix

Related Reading: Elinor Mills' interview with Joe Weiss, Crusader for critical infrastructure security.


Next time: The future of the software business. Is the app store model going to save software developers? How about "freemiums," trialware, or ad-supported software? Guests to be announced shortly. Monitor my Twitter feed (@Rafe) for updates.

E-mail comments to roundtable@cnet.com, and get all the show notes as well as replays and downloads of the podcast on the blog.