Murray Jennex, an associate professor and expert in information systems security at San Diego State University, said he hoped that Schneck's academic background would help unite university and corporate security researchers, who often have different goals.
"National cybersecurity is a wicked problem that needs the creativity and innovation that a fusion of [private] practice and academia will provide in order to solve it," he said.
Schneck joins DHS at a time when the department is undergoing major changes. In September, Napolitano will leave to become the first woman president of the University of California system. Obama has not announced her replacement.
As of Aug. 12, at least 15 top positions across DHS are either vacant or filled temporarily, reports the magazine FCW, which focuses on the federal executive sector.
"She faces a slew of challenges at DHS from a management and organizational standpoint that everyone who previously held the position struggled to address," said Jacob Olcott, former counsel for U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa.). "Getting national cybersecurity policy right is almost easier than solving DHS bureaucracy."
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.