McAfee official named to top cybersecurity job

The White House on Monday officially named Phyllis Schneck, a vice president and chief technology officer for the public sector at McAfee, as the next undersecretary of cybersecurity at the Homeland Security Department.

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Schneck will play a critical role in implementing the president's executive order on cybersecurity. Under the order, DHS will be responsible for running a cybersecurity program in which critical infrastructure companies — such as the power grid, water systems and financial networks — agree to follow a set of security practices.

The Hill reported in July that Schneck was widely considered the likely choice for the post.

She replaces Mark Weatherford, who left the department in May after a little more than a year to work at the Chertoff Group. 

In an interview in May, Weatherford said the deputy undersecretary role is one of the top cybersecurity jobs in the federal government other than the head of the NSA. 

“I'm biased beyond any shadow of a doubt ... [but] I think there are two important cybersecurity jobs in the nation right now: Gen. [Keith] Alexander's role at the National Security Agency and the deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity at DHS,” Weatherford said.

“Not just because of the executive order, but when you look at DHS's responsibility of working with the 16 critical infrastructure [sectors across] the nation, there is no single person that has broader influence over those.”

In a statement about Schneck's selection, McAfee said it takes "great pride" in its partnership with the federal government.

"Phyllis has long been a trusted and valued member of the McAfee team who has helped build these partnerships. We congratulate her on her appointment to the Department of Homeland Security, and we know she will do an outstanding job,” said Michael DeCesare, president of McAfee, in a statement.