Speaking at a cyber security conference in Washington, D.C. this week, the FBI's top cyber official said a federal data breach law could help businesses with more streamlined compliance.

Jeffrey Troy, chief of the FBI's Cyber Criminal Section, said a national law "would help us tremendously, particularly in terms of efficiency in conducting investigations," according to a report from PC World.

At a time when mid-sized businesses are increasingly outsourcing IT and struggling to keep up with various state laws on data storage security, federal regulations could simplify compliance matters and improve national efforts to fight cyber crime.

Security breaches and data theft cost businesses millions of dollars and leave companies vulnerable to lawsuits and prosecution. This week, a judge rejected a settlement in a lawsuit against the online broker TD Ameritrade over a 2007 data breach, saying it did not do enough to compensate victims.

State data breach notification laws are becoming more burdensome as well, although California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently vetoed a bill that would have forced companies to report data theft to the state's attorney general.

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