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From The Top: Naperville CEO takes computer security to next level – Chicago Sun

By David Sharos
For The Sun

April 12, 2012 7:00PM

Charlie Schneider, president and CEO of netHARBOR, Inc. in Naperville is one of the country’s leading experts in computer security. | Submitted

Updated: April 12, 2012 11:48PM

One Naperville businessman could fit nicely into an espionage film that involved computer hacking, identity theft and secret formulas. He’d probably play the part of the faceless hero, sitting on the sidelines and saving the world.

Charlie Schneider, president and CEO of netHARBOR Inc. in Naperville, is one of the country’s leading experts in computer security — a claim made not by him, but the group that hired him.

“I sit on the U.S. board of the Information Security and Control Association, which has been around since 1970 or so, and they happen to write the test guidelines for all of the computer networks,” Schneider said. “Years ago, I was asked to sit on the board to represent the U.S. after they interviewed me and asked me to sit in on this. I started back in 2005 or 2006 and have been certified by them. I’m one of top 20 security experts in the country.”

The netHARBOR group was founded in 2004, and its mission is to audit networks and show where the deficiencies are. Schneider, 50, has worn many hats throughout his career, although all of them have not been technologically based.

“I went to the College of DuPage in 1980 and worked a couple of jobs in sales and also auto repair for a number of years,” Schneider said. “I worked as a sales rep for Radio Shack that included checking over merchandise and fielding IT questions from my store and other stores. I also worked as an auto mechanic for six year with a Chevy dealer where we overhauled and repaired cars and trucks.”

By the mid-1980s, Schneider was on the move, entrepreneurially speaking, as he founded Sofco Computer Supply Inc. in Naperville in 1985, which he continues to operate today. The Sofco venture was followed by founding netHARBOR in 2004 and Express Learning Centers Inc., which opened the following year in St. Charles.

Dirk Pollock, working as a manager of an information department, said he met Schneider about 12 years ago through a web design project.

“Charlie was actually working with a company I was with to help with its website, and we wound up using him to do security testing for us,” Pollock said. “He explained security testing to us and helped us set up all the proper measurements and policies. This was before people realized what some of risks were in terms of getting information from the Internet.”

Pollock admires Schneider’s professional expertise and calls him “one of the most honest, ethically driven people I know.”

“We’ve also done research projects throughout the country on things like Red Light Photo Enforcement and various site visits,” Pollock said. “Charlie is one of the most trustworthy people I know.”

Schneider’s netHARBOR is also called on to help police, attorneys, as well as companies when either court orders or protecting the public is required through the recovery of data.

“We have cases of ‘industrial espionage’ where someone is stealing trade secrets as well as operations known as ‘packet sniffing’ where you can open a window and see what information is being passed back and forth on a computer,” he said. “These procedures are legal when you are ordered by the courts or sometimes in divorce proceedings.”

Like many other businessmen in the area, Schneider sees Naperville as a fertile ground for the businesses he oversees. He says customers also like the accessibility to his services.

“Naperville is home to many organizations, large and small, and a business-friendly high-tech community,” he said. “Although netHARBOR has clients spanning the globe, we find that many of our clients enjoy partnering with a local firm. Some of our major clients are right here in our own back yard along the East-West corridor. They especially appreciate when we can come to their rescue and arrive on-site within minutes in a time of crisis when they need us the most.”

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