How to identify and secure sensitive information on your PC or Mac

Do you save passwords in your browser? Have you stored sensitive information on your PC or Mac? Want to track down what stuff you’ve saved and where? Well I’ve come across a program called Identity Finder which will help to track private information like passwords, and credit card and bank account numbers on your PC or Mac. There’s a free version with more limited capabilities which I’m trying out here. In essence, it will only scan your My Documents folder not the entire hard drive, it won’t look for bank account numbers, and won’t go through emails and attachments; you’ll have to buy a licence for the Home or Premium editions for that. The Free edition searches Firefox and IE for hidden passwords. It will also shred or secure your sensitive data by encryption. Here’s a list of comparisons between the different editions.

Identity Finder2

So I downloaded and ran the Free edition. The scan took 20 minutes to complete and identified a number of sensitive passwords stored away in some files which I had forgotten about. You can scroll down through the results window and even preview the results for certain file types like pdfs and doc files. Although I don’t use Firefox any more, my hidden passwords there were all visible to Identity Finder so I went into Firefox and removed them. It didn’t report anything for Chrome but I do store those passwords in there so I suspect it isn’t checking Chrome at all.

But it was the passwords stored around the My Documents folder which worried me most. I do use LastPass to store my passwords securely so these back up locations storing passwords on my PC should be dealt with securely just in case anyone accesses it – they’re clearly quite easily found.

Identity Finder allows you to shred the files, or more usefully encrypt them. However I was only interested in the list of sensitive files as I use and like the free Axcrypt for file encryption. I’ll use this to encrypt the sensitive files.

I recommend you give Identity Finder Free a try and see what you find on your PC or Mac. You might be surprised. If you store all your sensitive stuff within My Documents and aren’t interested in emails and bank account numbers, it may be right for you. If not, the paid editions search more deeply and have 1-year to 5 year licences with a 40% discount on the 5-year licence.

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