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Schneck takes senior cyber position at DHS

Phyllis Schneck

Phyllis Schneck, shown here in a 2012 C-SPAN appearance, has been named as the Department of Homeland Security's deputy undersecretary of cybersecurity.

The Homeland Security Department has filled one of its most important cyber vacancies.

Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Aug. 19 via blog post that Phyllis Schneck, currently vice president and chief technology officer for the Global Public Sector at McAfee, has been appointed deputy undersecretary of cybersecurity in DHS's National Protection and Programs Directorate.

Schneck replaces Mark Weatherford, who took a position with the Chertoff Group in April, and Bruce McConnell, who filled in for Weatherford in an acting capacity for several months. McConnell announced in July that he would leave DHS for the private sector.

Napolitano said the deputy undersecretary of cybersecurity position, created in 2011, is vital to DHS's efforts in protecting the nation's critical infrastructure.

"I am confident that Phyllis will continue these efforts, and build upon the foundations laid by her predecessors, to create a safe, secure and resilient cyber environment and promote cybersecurity knowledge and innovation," Napolitano wrote. "Phyllis has been a close partner in our cybersecurity mission for many years."

Schneck's appointment plugs one of the gaps in leadership that have plagued DHS in recent months – Napolitano herself is leaving in September.

Schneck's background should be a welcome addition to DHS, where her two biggest challenges are likely to be carrying out President Barack Obama's cybersecurity executive order and expanding the agency's internal cyber efforts.

She emerged as a candidate for the job in July, in part because of her background in high-performance computing and cryptography. At McAfee, Schneck was responsible for public security and global threat intelligence applications, strategic thought leadership centered on technology and policy in cybersecurity, and several other initiatives. Outside her private sector job at McAfee, Schneck serves as chairman of the board of directors of the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance, and previously served as Chairman of the NIST Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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