Data Loss Prevention
What is Personally Identifiable Information?
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is any piece of information that can potentially be used to uniquely identify, contact or locate a single person. PII is generally kept private and often used for financial, medical or research identification. Examples of PII:
- Social Security Numbers
- Credit Card Numbers
- Bank Account Numbers
- Driver’s License Numbers
Why Clean Up PII?
If your computer or external media (such as a USB thumb drive) is lost, stolen or broken into over the network, sensitive PII may be exposed. A surprising amount of sensitive PII may be retained on your computer just from daily use along with sensitive PII stored in personal and work files. This information can be used to steal not only your money and identity, but also the money and identities of anyone else who either shares your computer or whose sensitive PII you store for Wheelock work. And if you do store sensitive PII for Wheelock work, the college would be obligated under state law to notify everyone affected by the breach and could potentially be legally liable.
You might think this could never happen to you, but consider these facts:
- Laptop losses totaled $6.7 million for 2005 - 2005. (Computer Security Institute/FBI Computer Crime and Security Survey)
- 1 out of every 8 to 15 laptops were lost or stolen over the last few years.
- Over eight million Americans have their identities stolen annually. (Federal Trade Commission)
- 85% of identity theft victims find out about identity theft through an adverse action such as a loan or employment denial and the average identity theft victim will have to spend 600 hours clearing his or her good name. (Identity Theft Resource Center)
Invest the time now to clean PII from your machine and help prevent Identity Theft for yourself, for everyone who shares your computer and for everyone whose data you handle.
Why Can't Helpdesk Do This for Me?
Although Helpdesk staff may install software and help you with the clean up process, you must ultimately decide what files must be retained for your needs and which are not necessary.