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Speaking at the RSA Security conference in San Francisco, W Ralph Basham, a 29-year veteran of the Secret Service, told businesses and law enforcement agencies, "We must be willing to share information and resources."
Joint investigations have helped to cause serious disruption to organised criminal gangs engaged in identity theft and credit card fraud, Basham revealed.
Operation Firewall, a collaboration between financial services industry investigators, banks and the US Secret Service, led to the arrest of 30 criminals responsible for stealing 1.7 million credit card numbers.
The group cost banks £2.25m, but the losses could have escalated to hundreds of millions or even $1bn had the gang not been caught, said Basham.
A collaboration between Scottish police and the US Secret Service last year led to the arrest of a hacker responsible for launching denial of service attacks against websites. Hundreds of credit card numbers were found on computer equipment seized during the raid, said Basham.
Research by the Secret Service has shown that many hacking attacks are not sophisticated or complicated, but are committed by employees of firms with legitimate access to IT systems.
Businesses needed to let their staff to know what to look for and how to report breaches when they occur, said Basham.