Companies with compromised data have a duty to report that information to investigators as a way to keep others from being victimized, the director of the U.S. Secret Service said Tuesday.

The Secret Service, which has jurisdiction to investigate financial crimes as well as protect the U.S. president, is working hard to prevent Internet-related crimes such as identity theft, but it needs assistance from private companies, said Ralph Basham, Secret Service director, speaking at an event on organized cybercrime in Washington, D.C.

"Information is the world's new currency; information has value," Basham said at the event, sponsored by trade group Business Software Alliance (BSA) and think tank Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS). "Information discloses our vulnerabilities and systemic weaknesses, and therefore... compromises of information must be aggressively investigated."

Compromises that affect one company are increasingly rare in a world connected by the Internet, Basham added. "The days when a single institution guards the system intrusion as a secret are no longer acceptable," he said. "An intrusion for one represents a collective threat for us all."

Still, the sharing of information between law enforcement agencies and private industry remains an area that needs significant improvement, said a group of IT security experts, speaking on a panel discussion following Basham's remarks. Technology that could help reduce cybercrime does exist, but law enforcement agencies conducting investigations often don't immediately share information about new threats, said Albert Sisto, president and CEO of Phoenix Technologies, a security software vendor.

Federal law enforcement agencies are trying to share more information, but it's often difficult to disclose too much information without compromising an active investigation, responded Kimberly Peretti, a lawyer in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. The Secret Service is working on ways to distribute information faster, said Brian Nagel, assistant director for investigations at the Secret Service.