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Identity Finder

Penn State uses software called Identity Finder to detect and remediate Personally Identifiable Information (PII) on campus computers. PII includes things like social security numbers, credit card numbers, and bank account numbers. 

The Identity Finder software will automatically run a scan on your computer every 2 weeks (every other Wednesday). Once the scan completes, a window will pop up for you to review and rectify any found PII. It is each individual's responsibility to accurately remediate scan results. If the scan does not run, or if you need any help remediating the results, please fill out a Technology Assistance Request form.

There is a short (20 minute) Identity Finder training video available that will show you how the software works and how to remediate your results.

Below are answers to some common Identity Finder questions/problems:

When is Identity Finder schedule to run?

Identity Finder should run automatically every other Wednesday. For desktop users, the program should run at 3:00 am Wednesday morning and, depending on how many items it needs to scan, it will display results to you later in the day. For laptop users, the program is scheduled to run at the same time on Wednesday night. If your laptop is turned off during that period, it should run the next time it is turned on.

What if Identity Finder fails to run?

Another program or service may have interfered with your scheduled scan. If your Identity Finder fails to run automatically, you should manually run a scan and notify ITS via the Technology Assistance Request form. Please ensure that you complete at least one scan and remediation every 30 days.

How do I manually scan my computer?

  1. Click Start
  2. Type Identity Finder
  3. Click on the program displayed in the results
  4. Once opened, click on the Start button in the upper-left-hand corner to initiate a scan.

Why does Identity Finder sometimes display a bunch of new results?

Every time Identity Finder is upgraded, it gets better at finding and reporting potential PII. Identity Finder is automatically upgraded in the background, so it’s likely that you just completed a scan with a new version.

I can’t shred or ignore a file.

Try closing open programs, especially Internet Explorer, Chrome, and/or Firefox. Many times the file is being used by these programs, and Identity Finder can’t access the file while it is being used.

What should I do with a false positive?

Identity Finder often detects false positives. If a result is not PII, then you should ignore the file. If you shred a false-positive file, you may be destroying a system file needed for your computer to operate. To keep it simple, ignore false positives and only shred PII.

I’m stuck; now what?

Please submit all problems via our Technology Assistance Request form. This form automatically goes to all ITS staff who are working and helps us solve your issue quickly as well as notice problem trends.