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Identity Finder Reminder

Posted: October 23, 2014

Halloween is an exciting time that comes but once a year. Scanning for PII is an exciting time, too – and it comes every three weeks!

Although identity theft, compromises and scanning for sensitive information have been a part of the networked environment at Penn State for many years, it is good to have a reminder for current employees, and what may be new information for new faculty and staff. 

Penn State policy requires that all University-owned computers be routinely scanned to identify and remove Personally Identifiable Information (PII). With the newest versions of Identity Finder (IDF), all computers in the College should be automatically scanning for PII every three weeks.  But, scanning is only half of the job – dealing with the results of the scan is just as important.

In almost every instance a scan will return suspect data – information that appears to be PII.  Occasionally there will be true PII – a credit card number or perhaps a Social Security number – and you should identify that from the scan results and shred or scrub that document.  Other data may appear to be PII, but as you review your results, you may determine that it is a false-positive – a zip code or ISDN number perhaps.  These numbers you can safely select and ignore.

When you have remediated and closed Identity Finder you have met your obligation – but only for that specific period.  In another three weeks Identity Finder will scan and present results again, and it is equally important this time as it has been before for you to review the results and shred, scrub or ignore.  The three week period is a window where new instances of PII may come into your computer, and is also a period during which updates to the scanning software may enable it to find PII that it previously missed.  It is important to take the time with each new scan to properly review the findings and remediate the results.  If you suspect that Identity Finder is not scanning every three weeks, please contact us for assistance.

More information on Identity Finder can be found on this web page: http://agsci.psu.edu/it/how-to/frequently-asked-questions-about-pii-scanning

Attentive use of Identity Finder protects you, protects Penn State and protects the people whose information you might have.  It isn’t just a policy; it’s a good idea, too!