Identity Finder FAQ for Faculty and Staff
What is Identity Finder?
Identity Finder is software that can find personal information, such as Social Security numbers and credit card information, that is stored on a personal computer. Penn has licensed Identity Finder to help users find and protect this kind of data.
What is Identity Finder for?
It helps members of the University community protect private information from theft and/or inappropriate use. Social Security numbers are a particular concern. The University has formulated and posted a Social Security Number Policy (also called the SSN Policy), which applies to all members of the Penn Community.
How can I get Identity Finder installed on my computer?
For most faculty and staff, the best way to install the software is with the assistance of your local support provider. If you haven't already heard from that person, offering to help install the software, please feel free to contact that person.
Am I required to have Identity Finder installed on my computer?
Identity Finder should be viewed as an optional companion to virus checkers and spam filters. It is a resource offered by SAS computing to help our users avoid some of the dangers and nuisances that are part of working on the internet. We have found Identity Finder to be a very effective tool in helping faculty and staff ensure that they are protecting sensitive data. Faculty are not required to install Identity Finder; if they do not want to use it then they are free to comply with the University SSN policy in some other way.
What does Identity Finder do, exactly?
Identity Finder will scan your computer's files for sensitive information, including Social Security Numbers, credit card numbers, and birthdates. When it is done scanning, it will display the results for you so that you can review the results and take action as appropriate. Some kinds of action that you may take could include deleting files that you no longer need or removing files from your personal computer to a secured network drive. Again, your LSP will help you review and interpret the results. Although Identity Finder is a very useful tool, it does sometimes make "false positives" and your LSP will be able to help you identify false positives as such.
I've heard that Identity Finder reports what it finds on my computer to a central server. Is this true? What if I don't want that information to be shared?
Identity Finder is set up to automatically communicate with a "console," a central server that keeps track of which computers are running Identity Finder and what information has been found. However, it does not actually store any of the sensitive information that is found, only the file location of that information and what action was taken with that data. For users who do not want it to communicate even that much information, Identity Finder can run in "silent" mode which communicates to the console only that Identity Finder has been installed. This much information is required to comply with the University licensing agreement with the vendor.