I⁢ Launches Project to Remove Confidential Data From Computers

To protect the privacy of students, faculty and staff, I&IT has launched a project to delete Social Security numbers and other unneeded confidential information from state-owned computers.

Using software called “Find_SSNs,” users can locate and delete files that contain Social Security numbers, credit card information and other confidential data from their desktop and laptop computers. The software, also referred to as the “Virginia Tech Tool,” can also search data shared on network drives and remove the confidential information.

“If a user's computer is compromised by a hacker, they could obtain confidential information such as Social Security numbers and credit card numbers,” said Al Arboleda, I&IT information security officer. “This is why we want to remove this data from all state-owned computers on our campus.”

In 2004, Cal Poly Pomona stopped using Social Security numbers as student identifiers, replacing them with Bronco Numbers. However, faculty members may be storing students' private information on their computers without realizing it. Other computers may also be storing employee private data.

Instructions for Windows users are available on eHelp at www.cpp.edu/~ehelp/. The Help Desk can also assist users in running the software on their computers. The program takes at least 30 minutes, depending on the size of the hard drive. After scanning the computer, it flags any files that may contain private data and prompts the user to review the files. The program will also permanently delete the affected files.

The Macintosh version of the removal software will be available later this fall, and additional instructions will be published on eHelp.

I&IT plans to have faculty and staff scan all state-owned computers during fall 2008 and winter 2009 quarters. All I&IT machines were scanned during the summer to test the removal program.

For assistance with the program, contact the Help Desk between 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays in Building 1, Room 100. Or call the Help Desk at (909) 869-6776.