McAfee executive picked for top Homeland Security post

Phyllis Schneck will be responsible for building partnerships with the private sector for stronger cybersecurity

A McAfee vice president and seasoned technology executive will head the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity office, the agency announced Monday.

Phyllis Schneck will take the position of Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), which has four divisions that oversee physical and cybersecurity for U.S. infrastructure. She will be the Department of Homeland Security's chief cybersecurity policy official, occupying a position created in 2011.

Amid a wave of constant cyberattacks, the U.S. government has stepped up its efforts to protect its own networks as well as encourage private companies such as utilities to ensure their systems are not vulnerable to remote attacks.

Schneck, who holds a doctorate's degree in computer science from Georgia Tech, has been vice president and chief technology officer for the global public sector at McAfee, which is a division of Intel.

According to her McAfee biography, Schneck holds three patents related to information security and has written six research publications related to real-time systems, telecommunications and software engineering.

Prior to McAfee, Schneck held executive positions at eCommSecurity and SecureWorks. She also founded Avalon Security, a security company acquired by SecureWorks.

In a statement, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said Schneck will work on strengthening partnerships designed to strengthen networks with the private sector.

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