Here in Essex County, New Jersey, the county is promoting the annual computer and electronics recycling day (this Saturday, May 15), so when I saw the article about Identity Finder on ComputerWorld.com, I was in the right mindset to appreciate the problem.

What’s the problem? Your computer can end up in the strangest places.

Your computer = YOUR PERSONAL DATA

Whether you give your computer to a family member or donate it to a good cause, or someone steals it, all that stuff you put in there thinking that no one would ever see has a way of staying around a long time. And, for as long as the data is there, someone can get to it. (I know that computer recycling projects often claim to wipe all the data clean, but I wouldn’t count on someone else doing it for me.)

Identity Finder (cute logo!) does a deep scan of your computer to locate data associated with your identity – social security and credit card numbers, birthdays, unencrypted PASSWORDS, etc. If you’ve had your computer for any period of time, it is going to have information that you’ve forgotten about. Some of that data should not get into the wrong hands!

The author mentions that Identity Finder can ‘shred’ the files to ensure that the data is unrecoverable, which is very good. It brings up the question of whether Identity Finder can find the data in files that underwent a ‘standard’ delete and therefore are still technically accessible on the hard drive. THAT would be a great service to the average computer user.

All the passwords and personal data that are stored in Sticky Password are encrypted – so even if someone gets access to the computer, he won’t be able to get to your information. Passwords stored in your browser aren’t secure. Neither are passwords in that old Word or Excel file that you labeled with the mysterious title: mypasswords.doc. Knowing where your sensitive data are is a big step in protecting yourself.

I’ll be running Identity Finder scan on my computer this weekend!

My only question: what were all those social security numbers doing on the author’s computer in the first place!?!