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Locate and protect personal data on your computer with Identity Finder Free

19 December 2011, Mike Williams

User names, passwords, credit card numbers, personal details: your PC may contain all kinds of personal data, easily accessible to malware or anyone with physical access to the system.

You know this already, of course, which is why you probably protect your system with a firewall, antivirus package, maybe an encryption tool and more.

But what you maybe don’t know for sure is exactly how much data might be exposed on your system, should an attacker actually be able to penetrate your defences. And that’s where Identity Finder comes in.

Tell the free version of the program to scan your system and it will immediately identify any passwords which might be stored by your browsers, for instance. You can then selectively delete all or just the most sensitive of these, and perhaps turn off password storage entirely if it seems too risky.

The program will also scan common document formats (Office, text, PDF, HTML) in your Documents folder, looking for credit card numbers. It works, too: we added some numbers to a few text files and they were picked up right away. And once again Identity Finder offered to securely wipe or just encrypt the offending files (although the default is just to do nothing, so don’t worry, it won’t trash your documents if you’re not paying attention).

And Explorer integration provides easy access to a few handy privacy functions. So if you spot a file which you know contains sensitive data, then a quick right-click and you’ll be able to securely delete it, or store the document in an encrypted “vault”.

Identity Finder Free does just about enough to be useful, then, but unsurprisingly the really powerful features are reserved for the commercial Home and Pro versions. These can search for more details (social security numbers, bank account details, phone numbers, addresses, dates of birth); recognise more international data (Canadian SINs, UK National Insurance and NHS numbers, Australian TFNs); and can search far more widely, being able to scan all your drives, your Registry, compressed files, emails and more. And that’s just the start. Prices start at $24.99 for a 3 computer, 12 month subscription, and you can find out more at the author’s site.

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