Carnegie Mellon University

Identity Finder

Prevent identity theft by locating, protecting or disposing of personally identifiable information (PII) on your computer, file shares or external media. Follow the steps below to get started.

Download the Identity Finder software.

Create a Profile

The first time you use Identity Finder, you will be asked to create a profile. This password will also act as the password to your Password Vault.

Important: Your profile password will be used to password-protect files via Identity Finder's Secure action or the Encrypt tool. There is NO WAY to recover a forgotten profile password. Once you've created this password, write it down and lock it in a SECURE location. If you plan to password-protect files for Carnegie Mellon business or academic operations, be sure to inform your supervisor of the secure location of the profile password to ensure business continuity. DO NOT use your Andrew account password as your profile password.

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Windows - select Start > All Programs > Identity Finder > Identity Finder.
    • Mac - select Finder > Applications > Identity Finder.
  2. Enter your password twice. Click Next and click OK.

Before you begin your search:

  • Connect to VPN if you are off-campus.
  • Connect any external storage media or file server shares you want to search.
  • Disconnect from any file server shares that you do NOT want to search.
  • If you use Microsoft Outlook, set your password to be remembered.

Windows

  1. Select Continue Search Wizard to select additional search categories.
  2. Select Configure Search.
  3. Select the checkboxes for Social Security Numbers, Bank Account Numbers, Credit Card Numbers, Driver Licenses and Passwords. If you have personal information from Australia, Canada or the United Kingdom stored on your computer, also select those countries.
  4. Click Next.
  5. Select the checkboxes for files and compressed files, browsers, emails and Windows Registry.
  6. Select the radio button for the places you want to search. Choose either My Documents and Settings, My Computer or Custom Location. If Custom Location is chosen, click the browse button to specify a directory or folder.
  7. Review your selections.
  8. Click Finish to begin the search. The search may take several hours to complete. You can work as the program runs in the background.

Mac

  1. Select the checkboxes for Social Security Numbers, Bank Account Numbers, Credit Card Numbers, Driver Licenses and Passwords. If you have personal information from Australia, Canada or the United Kingdom stored on your computer, also select those countries.
  2. Select a file location:
    • Documents - searches the current Documents folder.
    • Computer - searches your entire computer.
    • Custom - see below.
  3. Click Search. The search may take several hours to complete. You can work as the program runs in the background.

Customize your Search

  1. Click Cancel.
  2. Choose Files and select which location you wish to search.
  3. Click Identities to select the Identity Types you wish to search.
  4. Click Start. You may interact with results as they appear. A dialog box will inform you when the search is complete.
  5. Click OK.

Mark your calendar or use the Identity Finder schedule feature as a reminder to run Identity Finder on a regular basis. Depending upon your level of access to university related PII, we recommend the following:

  • If you have extensive access to university related PII or financial data, run Identity Finder weekly
  • If you have moderate access to university related PII or financial data, run Identity Finder monthly
  • If you have no access to university related PII or financial data, run Identity Finder quarterly.

Once your search is complete, use the document below to manage and act on the results [pdf].

What is personally-identifiable information?

Personally-identifiable information (PII) is any piece of information which can potentially be used to uniquely identify, contact or locate a single person.  PII is generally kept private and often used for financial, medical or research identification.  Examples of PII include Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, driver’s license numbers and account passwords.

Why clean up personally-identifiable information?

If your computer or external media is lost, stolen or broken into over the network, sensitive PII may be harvested from your compromised equipment.  A surprising amount of sensitive PII (e.g. your passwords, credit card numbers, and maybe even Social Security number) may be retained on your computer just from daily use along with sensitive PII stored in personal and work files.  This information can be used to steal not only your money and identity, but also the money and identities of anyone else who either shares your computer or whose sensitive PII you store for Carnegie Mellon work.  And if you do store sensitive PII for Carnegie Mellon work, the University would be obligated under Pennsylvania state law to notify everyone affected by the breach and could potentially be legally liable.

Why can't Computing Services clean up my personally-identifiable information?

Although your departmental computing administrator or DSP consultant may install software and help you with the clean up process, you must ultimately decide what files to securely delete or securely retain given your duties and needs.  Additionally, the PII searching software will find sensitive PII such as passwords and financial account numbers that you should keep private even from your computing support personnel.