There are upsides to reporting cybercrime, authorities say

Not only might companies have ethical, civic and legal obligations to alert authorities to cyberthreats, businesses may find that the authorities can be helpful, law enforcement agents and prosecutors said on Friday.

Aravind Swaminathan, assistant U.S. attorney in the Western District of Washington, took pains to describe the lengths to which his office goes to be sensitive to the needs of companies that report crimes. He spoke during a cybercrime conference at the University of Washington School of Law on Friday.

"Everybody's worried that their trade secret will end up on the front page of the paper," he said. "Trade-secret cases are hard, but work with us. We aren't obtuse. We know that's the stock and trade of your business."

His office is keen to work closely with businesses to ensure that sensitive data doesn't become public, he said. Documents going public isn't an issue until a case goes to trial anyway, and few of his cases make it that far. Most are resolved through plea agreements, he said.

His office can also make protective orders to prevent sensitive documents from being disclosed, or to require that a defendant's lawyer is present when viewing such documents.

In addition, for companies wary of bad publicity surrounding legal cases, his office is eager to promote the cooperation of the company as a way to offer some good publicity, he said.