Jun 25 2008
Most people have no idea how much personally identifiable information (PII) they have on their hard drives. To be honest, the average consumer has no idea that they might be in danger by having PII on their drives in the first place. They don’t realize that many of the viruses today aren’t looking to do anything other than scan their hard drives looking for their credit card numbers so they can be sent back to the mothership. But now, thanks to Sensitive Number Finder (SENF) from the University of Texas, you can scan your hard drive to look for all those files that might have PII in them.
SENF is a Java applet that you download and run, no installation required. When I ran it against my “My Documents” folder, it turned up 65 files that might have PII in them. I really liked the fact that I don’t have to open the files themselves, a simple mouse click on the file in the SENF app shows me what strings triggered the match. Most of what I saw were game saves and configuration files, none of which had PII in them, but then I’m a security professional and have never to the best of my knowledge included my SSN or credit card number in a Word document.
This is a program worth keeping on your USB drive. It only takes a few minutes and while it has a high number of false positives, it will give you a good idea of what’s on your hard drive. Or what’s on your parents drive when you go over there for the 4th of July and get roped in to doing a little computer maintenance.