Information Technology News
UIT Will Roll-out Identity Finder on March 31, 2010
Note: This story may not be current. It is part of the IT News Archive, and exists as a historical document.
To reduce the risk of identity theft to the University of Houston community, on March 31, 2010, University Information Technology (UIT) will introduce a new software tool called Identity Finder. This tool, available for Macintosh and Windows computers, offers next-generation identity theft security and privacy protection, scanning personal identifying information found in computer files, emails, web-browsers and the system area of your computer.
About identity theft
Identity theft, a crime in which an impostor obtains key pieces of personal information, such as Social Security or driver's license numbers, and uses them for personal gain, is one of the fastest growing crimes in our technology-driven society.
While individuals suffer identity theft through such events as lost or stolen wallets, pilfered mail, computer viruses, or phishing scams, data breaches are increasingly occurring against institutional and business systems via personal information stored on computers. These crimes vary widely, and can include check and credit card fraud, financial, criminal and governmental identity theft, as well as identity fraud.
The following are significant facts about how the crime is negatively impacting us:
- Texas has the third highest incidence of identity theft complaints in the nation (Federal Trade Commission).
- Most consumers reported their first contact with identity thieves was via the Internet—48 percent by e-mail, while 12 percent went through a website.
- It's estimated that more than 11 million Americans were victims of identity theft last year, a 12 percent increase over the previous year, resulting in a loss of more than $54 billion to consumers and businesses (Javelin Strategy and Research).
- Security experts predict that identity theft cases will increase this year and continue to climb through the rest of the decade.
"Skilled hackers are now capable of perpetrating large-scale data breaches that leave hundreds of thousands—and in many cases tens of millions—of individuals at risk of identity theft," said Rita Glavin, former head of the Justice Department's criminal division.
Identity Finder drills down and uncovers information including Social Security and credit/debit card numbers, bank account information, driver's licenses and addresses, dates of birth, and personal phone numbers as well as passwords, and provides options to secure them on your computer.
UIT continues to recommend that customers delete non-essential sensitive information from their computers, as an additional precaution. Identity Finder is customizable to allow users advanced search and additional secure options.
This software will enable UH to adhere to the regulatory and compliance requirements of PCI (Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which require the protection of sensitive data of students, faculty and staff.
Mary Dickerson, Interim Executive Director of UIT Security said, "We are always on the lookout for innovative ways that can help protect our customers and secure our UHS data. We are excited to be able to provide such a comprehensive tool as Identity Finder to our customers at little to no cost to assist with these efforts."
For More Information
Contact the IT Support Center at 713-743-1411, or to download your copy of the software, visit the UIT Identity Finder website. UIT offers many resources on the site including demos, user guides and information about obtaining the software.