and so forth writes "Cornell lost a laptop last year with SSNs. Now, they've mandated scanning every computer at the University for the following items: social security numbers; credit card numbers; driver's license numbers; bank account numbers; and protected health information, as defined by HIPAA. The main tools are Identityfinder (commercial software for Windows and Mac), spider (Cornell software for Windows from 2008) and Find_SSN (python script from Virginia Tech). The effort raises both technical questions (false positives, anyone?) and practical issues (should I trust closed source software to do this?). Have other Universities succeeded at removing confidential data? Success, here, should probably be gauged in terms of diminished legal liability after the attempted clean up has been completed."
Note: this program affects the computers of university employees and offices, rather than students' personal machines.