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Identity Finder Guide

Welcome to the Identity Finder Training Guide

Identity Finder is a program that will scan your computer for protected information such as Social Security numbers, Drivers' License numbers, Credit Card numbers, and more.

A scan of all campus computer equipment is required to adhere to the policies and guidelines set forth by the CSU.  Therefore it is recommended that all employees of CSUSM scan their computers with Identity Finder and take the appropriate actions to safeguard any protected information that is found by the Identity Finder scan.  

This webpage will serve as your guide for running and handling your scan results found by Identity Finder.

Instructions on reviewing the Department Share results.

Launching the Identity Finder Application for the First Time

Click Start, choose Programs, click the Identity Finder folder, and click on Identity Finder.


Creating an Identity Finder Profile

When you first launch the Identity Finder application, you will be prompted to set an Identity Finder profile password.  You will need to remember this password in order to access your saved searches in the future (including results marked as false-positives).  Do not use your campus password as your Identity Finder profile password.

WARNING: Profile passwords cannot be recovered.  In the event that a profile password is lost, the existing profile must be replaced with a new profile; meaning that previous scan results will be lost.


Starting the Search

The Search Wizard is a quick way to begin using Identity Finder.  You can immediately start the search with the current settings by clickin the Start Search Now button.


Running a search on any system for the first time can take several hours.  You can continue to work while Identity Finder searches your computer, but it may slow your computer’s performance.  You may prefer to begin the scan at the end of the day and allow it run overnight. Your screen should be locked (Windows Key+L) while the scan is running and while you are away from your computer.

Identity finder will create a report that displays every file containing confidential identity information.  The Status Window, shown below, will display the current progress of the scan.


When the scan is finished the screen below will show.


Reviewing Your Scan Results

From the Seach Summary screen shown above, click Advanced and following window will open.


The section marked A is the Results Pane.  This will list all of the items that contain protected information found by Identity Finder.

The section marked B is the Preview Pane, where you can preview any documents containing protected information by clicking on the document in the results pane.

Section C is the Properties Pane, which provides information about the file that you have selected in the Results Pane.  For our purposes, the most important items in this area are the filepath and type of file.

When reviewing these results you should be looking for:

  • Social Security Numbers
  • Credit Card Numbers
  • Bank Account Numbers
  • Driver's License Numbers
  • Dates of Birth

False Positives

Not every result returned by Identity Finder is going to be protected data.  For example, on our campus student ID numbers are 9 digits long and can often be mistaken by Identity Finder as Social Security Numbers.  Therefore it is necessary for an individual to review each result of the Identity Finder scan.

Working with Your Results

No Results Listed

If no results are found by Identity Finder this is a good thing.  However, this does not guarantee that your computer does not contain protected data. It simply means that the patterns used by Identity Finder to search your computer did not find any results. You still have a responsibility to safeguard any protected data you may handle or create during the course of your job duties.

You can take the following actions with each result in Identity Finder:

  • Shred: deletes the file containing protected information from your computer
  • Scrub: will redact the protected information from the file, but leaves the file on your computer
  • Secure: password protects the file.  Contact if you have any questoins.
  • Ignore: adds the item to a list of findings to ignore on subsequent searches


Shredding a file removes it completely from your computer.  This cannot be undone, so shred carefully!

Shredding a file containing protected information is the appropriate action to take when you no longer need the file or the protected information it contains.

To Shred a file, select the file in the Results Pane and click Shred in the Main ribbon.



Scrubbing a file removes the protected information from the file, but otherwise leaves the file intact on your computer.

Scrubbing a file containing protected information is the appropriate action when you no longer need the personal information but need to keep the file.

To Scrub a file, select the file in the Results Pane and click Scrub in the Main ribbon.


Note: Scrubbing is not available for Email, PDF, or file types other than Word, Excel, and text files.


Secure password protects the file with a password chosen by you.

Secure should only be used as a last resort for files that contain protected information that you have a business need to retain.

To Secure a file, select the file in the Results Pane and click Secure in the Main ribbon.


When you click Secure, Idenity Finder automatically password protects the selected file with your profile password.  If you would like to secure your files with an alteranate password, see below.

Securing With an Alternate Password

You will be prompted to secure the item with either your profile password (which you entered upon starting Identity Finder) or an alternate password.  Select alternate password.


Enter an alternate password to secure this file.


WARNING! If the password used to secure a given file is lost, this file cannot be recovered!  You may write down any file passwords and the associated file name and deliver this list to the Information Security Team for safe keeping.  Again, if a file's password is lost, the file is NOT recoverable.


Ignoring a file leaves the file and any protected information it may contain on your computer, and marks it to be ignored on subsequent searches. When Identity Finder identifies a ‘false positive’, you should utilize the Ignore feature.  Ignore should not be used for any other purpose that false positives.  If you still need access to any files containing protected information and you cannot either shred or scrub it, the file must be secured with a password.