Phyllis Schneck – D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Tech 2015

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Phyllis Schneck

Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity and Communications
Department of Homeland Security

One look at Phyllis Schneck’s list of roles and responsibilities at the Department of Homeland Security is enough to leave even a world-class athlete feeling a little winded.

As the department’s chief cybersecurity official overseeing about 2,000 employees, Schneck helps to integrate all of the organizations within the National Protection and Programs Directorate, including the Federal Protective Service, Office of Biometric Identity Management, Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis, Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, and the Office of Infrastructure Protection.

Perhaps one of the most well known entities that fall directly under Schneck is the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, or NCCIC, a 24-hour cyber monitoring and incident response command center.

And there’s more. Schneck also plays a central role in developing a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for all of the departments 22 component agencies.

“We are a busy shop,” Schneck said, only half joking.

Among her biggest priorities in 2015 is automated information sharing to help identify and stop attacks against government and private critical infrastructure networks. So far, the department has managed to get its Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program out to agencies in one of the most significant advancements in federal IT security.

It’s our responsibility to help younger girls pursue the same dream that we did.

“The beauty of this is that chief information security officers won’t have to write a big book of compliance once a year,” Schneck said. “They will always have a dashboard of things that are good and bad. And we’re going to be able to take a lot of the information that we correlate in the NCCIC and put that into the dashboard for the agencies.”

So how does she manage so many responsibilities and still remain effective? According to Schneck, the secret is listening and learning from others.

“There are women in the department who I didn’t know until I got here and I’ve learned a lot just by listening to their stories,” she said. “And I would advise others to learn from other stories. And for women in my position, it’s our responsibility to help younger girls pursue the same dream that we did.”

– Dan Verton

Read the full story about this year's selection of D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Technology, and view the full list here.