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Top McAfee official named to U.S. Homeland Security cyber post

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior executive with Intel Corp's McAfee anti-virus software division was named the top cyber official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - filling a position that has turned over a couple of times this year.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano on Monday named Phyllis Schneck the new deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity in the department's National Protection and Programs Directorate.

Schneck, chief technology officer for McAfee's global public sector unit, has worked in security and infrastructure protection for more than 14 years. She is the chairman of the board of directors of the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance - a partnership between corporations, government and law enforcement to combat international cyber crime.

"McAfee takes great pride in the strong partnership we have with the U.S. government, and governments around the world," McAfee President Michael DeCesare said in a statement. "Phyllis has long been a trusted and valued member of the McAfee team who has helped build these partnerships."

DHS has pinpointed cybersecurity as a top priority in recent years, but the department has had a hard time keeping the top cyber job filled since it was created in 2011.

Mark Weatherford, the first person to hold the post, quit earlier this year after less than 18 months in the job to join the Chertoff Group, a security advisory firm.

Bruce McConnell, Weatherford's deputy who was acting interim cyber chief, announced his plans to step down last month.

DHS has urged Congress to pass new cybersecurity legislation to spell out how the government and industry should work together to protect critical infrastructure against a growing threat of cyber attacks.

(Reporting by Deborah Charles; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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