Purge Your Computer of Sensitive, Personal Information

Last Updated May 19, 2010 9:12 PM EDT

Do you know how pervasive personal information like your social security number and various account numbers might be on your PC? In more innocent years gone by, for example, you might have stored credit card numbers in plain old text documents, for example. And you might have a folder full of old invoices with your name, address, and social security number.

Do you want to continue to keep all that stuff on the off-chance your PC is ever stolen or browsed by s hacker? Of course not.

Crawling through gigabytes of documents by hand simply isn't practical. Instead, install Identity Finder, a utility that locates every instance of your personal information on your computer. Identity Finder will track down information like your social security number, credit cards, account numbers, driver's license number, e-mail, passwords, and more.

There are several versions available. The free home version roots out just social security numbers and passwords, but the full home edition searches a much broader range of personal data for $40 (which includes 3 licenses).

The Professional edition (3 licenses for $60) does everything in the Home edition and also searches for Patient Health Information (PHI) and Payment Card Industry (PCI) Information. The program can also look for personal info within a broader range of file types, including proprietary and unique files that it doesn't actually understand. In this way, you can use it to make sure your PCs are in compliance with privacy regulations, and even locate potentially sensitive data in databases for which you may no longer own the software to display.

Not only can Identity Finder identify private data, but you can optionally "shred" those documents -- or just generate a report and do the work yourself manually at a later time.