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Identity Finder

Find where Prohibited Data hides in your computers!

Data breaches are big news and are very costly. At Stanford, most breaches of private information have been from computers where no one expected that data to be.

Identity Finder, commonly referred to as IDF, is a commercial product that scans laptops and desktops to locate sensitive data such as Social Security numbers and credit card numbers. Identity Finder scans will be preformed in accordance with University mandates.

The Program

Identity Finder is a program managed by BigFix that scans your laptop and/or desktop files for personally identifiable information (PII) such as social security numbers and credit card numbers, and provides you or your IT support team with a report that allows you to delete PII that is unneeded. In a broad depolyment in 2013, 15% of scanned systems had more than 500 PII records and an additional 15% had between 100 and 500 records. No action is required on your part to run the program, but you will be notified if PII is found on your system, and you will have the option of deleting unnecessary files.

To simplify scanning, Identity Finder can be centrally installed via BigFix. Alternatively, BigFix Console Operators or local IT support personnel are welcome to subscribe computers to Identity Finder themselves; ITS and ISO can provide information on how to do so.

Below are lists of common questions as well as some questions we have recieved from end users and from IT and administrative staff.

The Goal

Stanford is committed to avoiding unintentional disclosure of protected information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and Protected Health Information (PHI) as has recently happened at Stanford and many of our peer institutions. While Stanford has taken a number of steps to prevent this kind of disclosure, the Information Security Office is still contacted from time to time with potential breaches, and often no one even expected the data was being stored on the computer involved!

Stanford has chosen Identity Finder to enable University employees to comply with the University mandates of protecting Prohibited and Restricted data from unwanted disclosure. The goal of deploying Identity Finder is for Stanford to be the first to find this risky data and to be sure it is properly protected so Stanford can avoid any negative reputational consequences because of a breach of protected data.

Self-Scan Option

Would you would like to scan your machine yourself with Identity Finder?
Choose the approriate Operating System below to get started.
Download and instructions for Macs
Download and instructions for Windows

Contact Us

Please contact the Identity Finder program Team so we can begin to plan the scan of your area. If you have any questions, concerns, or advice regarding this initiative, please feel free to contact the program team at idfinder-support@lists.stanford.edu or alternatively Stanford's Chief Information Security Officer, Michael Duff at mjduff@stanford.edu. We appreciate your help with this important initiative!


General FAQ's

FAQ for IT staff
FAQ for end users
  • Q: What is Identity Finder?
    • A: Identity Finder is a program that searches your computer for social security numbers and credit card numbers.
  • Q: Why is Stanford using Identity Finder?
    • A: Data breaches are big news and are very costly. At Stanford, most breaches of private information have been on computers where no one expected that data to be. Stanford is providing the Identity Finder tool to help individuals and departments proactively locate this data so it can be removed or secured.
  • Q: Who approved the Identity Finder program?
    • A: The Information Security Office has reviewed Identity Finder and approved it for use in locating social security numbers and credit card numbers. Per University mandates, with the support of the University President and Provost, Identity Finder scans will be performed only after specific consent by the individual whose files are being scanned. See the Endpoint Compliance. for more details.
  • Q: Who will have access to the results?
    • A: Self-scan results can be seen by you and only the masked data (last four (4) digits) is sent to a secure server and may be reviewed by the Information Security Office. Only designated department IT administrators will be able to see the file location and type of hit in order to assist users with removing or securing the data. The entire contents of the file are never revealed and cannot be seen by anyone but you.
  • Q: Will Identity Finder scans be ongoing?
    • A: Identity Finder scans will be performed only after specific consent by the individual whose files are being scanned. Identity Finder has been centrally funded to ensure that the software is available at no cost to University departments, staff, and faculty.

FAQ's from End Users

FAQ for IT staff
General FAQ
  • Q: Will I be able to tell that Identity Finder is on my machine?
    • A: On Windows, there will be an Identity Finder icon that will show up in your start menu. On Macs, the Identity Finder icon will show in your apps folder.
  • Q: How long will the Identity Finder software be on my machine(s)?
    • A: Identity Finder scans will be installed only after specific consent by the individual whose files are being scanned.
  • Q: Will Identity Finder impact my machine?
    • A: Identity Finder is installed on the machine, and preforms a one-time scan following installation, this scan will be very similar to a full Anti-Virus scan. Subsenquent scans will consume less resources since the software will only scan new and changed files since the previous scan.
  • Q: Am I required to run Identity Finder?
    • A: Identity Finder scans will be performed only after specific consent by the individual whose files are being scanned. Please refer to the University mandates for addtional information.
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FAQ's from IT/Admin Staff

FAQ for end users
General FAQ
  • Q: How much does Identity Finder cost?
    • A: Stanford has centrally funded the Identity Finder software for use on all Stanford employees' computers to identify where this data may be unknowingly be stored.
  • Q: Will servers be included in these scans?
    • A: Servers and remote shares are not included in the default scan. The Identity Finder client does allow for manual scanning of network shares and servers, for more details please contact the Identity Finder team idfinder-support@lists.stanford.edu
  • Q: Can our group scan for more than just social security or credit card numbers?
    • A: The Identity Finder client can be run manually from any host to scan for any data your group would like to look for. If you would like to scan more broadly for other types of data, please contact the Identity Finder team idfinder-support@lists.stanford.edu
  • Q: Our group does not have local IT, will someone run Identity Finder for us?
  • Q: What is required to deploy Identity Finder?
    • A: BigFix can be used to deploy and install Identity Finder, but it is not required. Once Identity Finder is installed, it will automatically start the one-time scan. If you need assistance to run Identity Finder, please contact the Identity Finder team idfinder-support@lists.stanford.edu
  • Q: Will Identity Finder impact my machine(s)?
    • A: Identity Finder is installed on the machine, and preforms a one-time scan following installation, this scan will be very similar to a full Anti-Virus scan. Subsenquent scans will consume less resources since the software will only scan new and changed files since the previous scan.
  • Q: Will Identity Finder scans be ongoing?
    • A: Identity Finder scans will be performed only after specific consent by the individual whose files are being scanned. Identity Finder has been centrally funded to ensure that the software is available at no cost to University departments, staff, and faculty. After such consent, departments can establish their own ongoing/periodic scanning policy for their respective areas.
    • Q: Is my group/department/school required to run Identity Finder?
      • A: Identity Finder scans will be performed only after specific consent by the individual whose files are being scanned. Please refer to the University mandates for addtional information.
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    Last modified: 05/29/2014 06:25:03 PM