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personal information protectionAt one point or another, you’re bound to have your privacy breached. It might be a stolen credit card number, a hacked account password or a keylogger infection. When it happens, you end up feeling violated, angry and frustrated that using the computer and the Internet can’t be something you can just enjoy in peace without scammers and hackers trying to mess things up for everyone.

Alas, this is the world we live in. So, the best you can do is install the best free antivirus and anti-malware software for Windows. Each of these software solutions protect you by trying to filter out all of the incoming threats that attempt to infiltrate your computer to access your sensitive personal information.

Most people are familiar with these software tools, but did you know that there is one additional line of personal information protection you can set up to guard yourself from identity theft? It’s a line of defense built on the premise that it isn’t much good for a burglar to break into your home if you store all of your valuables in a lock-box at the bank. This additional line of defense is called Identity Finder.

Running An Identity Finder Scan

The free version of Identity Finder will perform a full system scan, and it will attempt to find sensitive identity information that may be stored on your computer without you realizing it. It attempts to do a deep search that is as good or better (hopefully) than any spyware may be.  The goal is to identify the sensitive information on your computer so that you can decide what to do with it so that it isn’t accessible should your computer get infected.

When you first set up Identity Finder, you’ll need to set up a very secure password that you can use to run scans and store scan logs.

personal information protection

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Once you’re logged in, you have three choices – run an immediate scan on your system, use the search wizard (this is more useful in the paid version of the software) or skip the scan and open the advanced interface.

personal information search

When you launch the scan, you’ll see just how thorough this software is. A scan will take some time – between 10 to 20 minutes depending on the size of your hard drive. I thought my system was pretty clean of any personal information, so I was pretty shocked to see that the Identity Finder had discovered 27 records revealing my passwords, and a surprising 5 records revealing my credit card numbers – and the scan was only half done!

personal information search

Once the scan is finished, you’ll see a brief summary, and four choices. You’ll want to click on the “Advanced” button to access the results information that lists all of the records with your sensitive information.

personal information search

It appeared that, in my case, the majority of password security concerns were related to the fact that I’d started using the Firefox password feature. However I had never got around to creating a master password. So, any application that gets installed on my computer could conceivably access those passwords (after all, Identity Finder did!)

remove personal information from computer

At the bottom, I saw that the credit card information was the complete credit card numbers stored in the Firefox Saved Forms. This was an oversight on my part, and it could have led to catastrophe had I ever got hacked. The great thing about Identity Finder is that it helps you eliminate risks completely by eliminating the sensitive data completely.

remove personal information from computer

Fixing the issue with the saved passwords was easy. Identity Finder recognizes the issue, and provides the option under the “Secure” button, to create a master “Profile Password” for you. This way, even though an app gets installed onto my computer, it can’t access the password or saved form details because it doesn’t have the master password.

When you discover that there’s information on your computer that you really don’t want to be there – like stored credit card information, Identity Finder offers the option to “Shred” the information.

remove personal information from computer

While not quite as thorough as a “Scrub”, which is featured on the paid version of the software, Shred is a feature that deletes the files according to the “Department of Defense deletion standard.” I suppose if it’s good enough for the Department of Defense, then it’s good enough for me!

After your scan is done, you can also explore individual groups of information by browsing through the menu items at the top of the window. Click on “Identities” to see what type of identity information was found, such as credit card or passwords. Click on “Locations” to see the areas of the computer where your sensitive information was uncovered.

personal information protection

Identity Finder is a clever security solution, because instead of worrying so much about trying to prevent bad guys from breaking into your computer, you’re simply removing anything valuable from your computer that these bad guys may want to get. This won’t prevent virus infections, but it’ll certainly protect your identity.

Give Identity Finder a try and see what it uncovers on your computer. Are you as secure as you thought you were? Share your results and your reactions in the comments section below.

  1. Matt
    May 29, 2011 at 4:36 pm

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