One of the hot security topics these days is PII—Personally Identifiable Information. PII includes everything from your passwords to your credit card account numbers, bank account numbers, social security number and driver’s license number. Taken individually, a compromise of any of these is cause for concern. However, when the information is pulled together by someone with less than honest intentions, you have severe identity theft exposure.
Most U.S. states have strict data breach laws designed to force companies with which you entrust your PII information to both protect it and to notify you and law enforcement in case of a breach. However, there is another place where PII information is likely to be aggregated for which you are solely responsible—your computer.
You probably don’t think twice when you enter passwords on your computer, or when your browser software asks to save them for you. You probably also think you’re protected when you enter credit card numbers or other PII information into a secure web page. You might be surprised to learn that your computer saves this information in log files, browser configuration files, and other places you haven’t even considered.
To help mitigate the PII risk posed by your computer, it is a good idea to scan it regularly so that you can identify and eliminate imprudently stored content. Identity Finder Free Edition can help you do just that.
The free version of the software will scan your computer for saved credit card numbers and passwords. It will check common uncompressed file types such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe PDF, text, html, and rtf, located in web browsers and in your My Documents folder. Anything it finds will be presented to you in an easy to read report from which you can either delete the offending item or encrypt it.
You may use Identity Finder Free Edition and find that your computer is not storing anything inappropriately—in which case you should feel great. If it does come up with some unwanted PII storage surprises, you might consider upgrading to the Home version of Identity Finder ($40) which will search for a wide variety of PII information including SSNs, Bank Accounts, DOBs, Phone #s, Driver Licenses, and Personal Addresses, as well as Canadian SINs, and other non-US identification numbers, and will search both compressed and uncompressed files, including emails, on your entire computer.