Identity Finder 2.4
This data-shredding software is effective at finding and protecting personal information on a PC, but it's expensive.
- Seeks credit card and bank account numbers without being prompted
- It's expensive for the use of one computer only, error messages are uninformative
You could manually track down personal information on your PC with Google Desktop or another desktop search tool, but Identity Finder makes the process much easier. In addition it can dig into saved browser passwords, which neither Google Desktop nor the native Windows search can. Identity Finder works with Windows Vista, XP and 2000, and an Enterprise version is available for Windows Server 2003. You can grab a free trial version from their Web site, but it will show you only the information it has found--it won't tell you where the data is or let you take steps to protect it. Those details and capabilities will cost you.
Velosecure's well-designed but expensive Identity Finder 2.4 software locates sensitive information on your PC and either deletes it or shields it from data-stealing malware and notebook thieves. Searching in your files, e-mail, Web surfing history, and Windows Registry, it automatically finds some types of data, such as passwords or credit card numbers, without your having to give specific instructions. It also assists in data protection, allowing you to perform such tasks as encrypting Office documents or setting a Firefox master password from within the program.
Unfortunately, the software is overpriced for the average consumer: At $US40 ($AUD47.53) for a licence that works on only one computer, it costs more than many good antivirus programs. Though it doesn't impose the recurring subscription costs of an antivirus utility, the expense makes it most suitable for businesses or home offices that handle customer data.
After you install the 10.6MB download, Identity Finder walks you through a nicely designed wizard that determines where the program should search and what it should search for. The app automatically seeks out credit card and bank account numbers, basing its search on number patterns so you don't have to type in the digits yourself. It can do the same for passwords.
You can also have the software look for a wide assortment of other information, such as a birth date, a mother's maiden name, or a driver's licence number, but you'll need to supply that information first. The program can search for your selections among a range of file types, including Office documents, text files, and Adobe Acrobat files; in addition, it can scan Outlook, Outlook Express, and Windows Mail (for Vista) messages, as well as Web passwords and history files for Internet Explorer (5, 6 and 7) and Firefox (1.x and 2.x).
If you choose to search your entire computer and you have tons of files (as I do), the search can take hours -- but the results may surprise you. The app found my credit card number in three different saved Firefox forms, though it not surprisingly also labelled a few things as passwords that weren't. I digitally shredded the Firefox forms from within Identity Finder, but only after figuring out that I had to close Firefox first (the error messages were uninformative).
You don't have to open Office documents to assign them each a password within Identity Finder. You can use the software to assign a master password for saved passwords in Firefox, too, but since Internet Explorer doesn't offer an equivalent feature, your only option there is to use Identity Finder to disable saved passwords within IE.
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