and protection, although growing in importance, remains elusive among most consumers and businesses, even as incidents of data breaches proliferate. According to a report released this week by IdentityHawk, there were 58 publicly known data breaches last month that compromised more than 12.2 million online records. The Identity Theft Research Center defines a data breach as an event in which an individual's name, Social Security Number, driver's license number, medical record, or financial record is put at risk either online or in paper format. "Identity theft breaches are often initiated because identity thieves steal thousands of records in batches from major enterprises," said Jeff Paradise, executive director of IdentityHawk. "In fact, in 2002, former White House Cyber Security Advisor Richard Clarke … was quoted as saying to enterprises, 'If you spend more on coffee than on IT security, you will be hacked. What's more, you deserve to be hacked.'" Paradise added that the best defense against a data breach that has already occurred is early action, which means nullifying or protecting all information that may have been associated with the compromised data.