McAfee’s Phyllis Schneck leading candidate for DHS cybersecurity post

Published 17 July 2013

Phyllis Schneck, the vice president and chief technology officer for public sector at McAfee, is the likely choice to be the next deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity at DHS.

The Hill reports that the DHS deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity oversees DHS’s cyber operations, including its relationship with private businesses which run utilities and critical infrastructure.

Mark Weatherford previously held the position, but left the department in May to become a principal at the Chertoff group.

Earlier this year Weatherford described the position is the top cybersecurity job in the federal government besides the head of the National Security Agency (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 told theHill. “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.”

Schneck has been on several witness panels at congressional hearing on cybersecurity, especially those that deal with the partnership between the public and private sectors to protect key U.S. infrastructure.

Schneck would be a critical hire as DHS will soon begin a cybersecurity program that will require critical infrastructure companies to follow a set of security standards as part of President Obama’s executive order on cybersecurity.

Among the other candidates considered for the position were Deborah Plunkett, an official at the NSA, Tiffany Jones, head of Symantec’s public-sector programs and strategic initiative teams, and Jeff Moss, a hacker that founded the annual Black Hat hacker conference.