Spirion, formerly known as Identity Finder, is the latest tool in the University's mission to reduce its risk from fraud and identity theft. Spirion helps users locate and easily protect or securely dispose of hidden and forgotten Level 1 and Level 2 data, such as files containing social security numbers, credit card and bank account information, passwords, addresses, and phone numbers residing on your office computer, laptop or electronic storage devices.

Opening and Configuring Spirion

Spirion is user-friendly and will prompt you through the entire process.

Installing Spirion for Baseline-supported computers

For computers connected on-campus that automatically receive ITS issued updates and patches, the Spirion software should already be installed. The icon on the desktop looks like the side profile of a white "sniffing" dog on a blue background.  Spirion application icon is the side profile of a white "sniffing" dog on a blue background

Installing Spirion for Non-Baseline-supported computers

If your computer is not an ITS baseline supported computer and the Spirion software is not installed, please contact the ITS Help Desk at (323) 343-6170 for assistance.

Opening Spirion

For Windows computers:

  • Double-click the Spirion application icon is the side profile of a white "sniffing" dog on a blue background Spirion shortcut on your desktop. If the Spirion shortcut is not on your desktop, click on the Windows Start Menu, scroll down and click the Spirion Folder and select the Spirion application. 

For macOS computers:

  • Press the Launchpad button on Apple keyboards.  "Launchpad" key on your keyboard. You can also click on the Launchpad icon on macOS. Gray icon with black "rocket ship." gray "rocket" icon on your Dock and search for "Spirion" in the text field at the top of your screen. Click on Spirion.

Spirion Profile

  • The first time you use Spirion you will see a dialog box for setting up your new Spirion Profile. Users who previously created a Profile may skip this step.

  • After entering your password, you will have completed setting up your profile. This Profile is unique to the user that is logged into Windows. Creating a Profile allows you to save settings and securely save any information that has entered into Spirion. Click on “OK” and then “Next.”

Configuring Spirion for Windows OS 

Start Search Now, Continue Search Wizard, and Open Advance Interface

The Search Wizard is quick and easy to use and provides you with three options:

  • Start Search Now: Immediately start a search with current settings.
  • Continue Search Wizard: Use the wizard to start a search with pre-defined template or quickly set basic configuration information and then start a search.
  • Open Advanced Interface:  Configure the search using the main application interface. 

The three options are detailed below.

  • Note: "Start Search Now" and "Continue Search Wizard" are recommended.

Start Search Now

  • By selecting “Start Search Now,” Spirion will begin searching the computer for sensitive information including Social Security Numbers (SSNs), Dates of Birth (DOBs), and credit card numbers.

Continue Search Wizard

By selecting "Continue Search Wizard," there are five options:

  • Configure Search: Configure Spirion to search for specific types of data such as SSNs, Credit Card Numbers (CCNs), Passwords, Bank Account Numbers, Drivers Licenses, DOBs, Phone Numbers, E-Mail Addresses, Personal Addresses, Passport Numbers, and Personal Health Information (PHI).
  • Standard: Search for SSNs, CCNs, and Passwords within your web browsers, E-Mail (i.e. emails within the Microsoft Outlook application).
  • PCI-DSS 2.0: Search for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) in Browsers, E-Mail, and common files across the entire Computer.
  • HIPAA/HITECH: Search for Personal Health Information (PHI) in Browsers, E-Mail, and common files across the entire Computer.
  • Comprehensive: Search for all common personal information across the entire Computer. 

When data types are selected, choose a location on the computer to conduct the search.

  • My Documents: specifies that Spirion will search the currently logged in user’s My Documents and User Settings folders.
  • My Computer: specifies that Spirion will search all drives (removable and local) on your computer.
  • Custom Folder: allows you to specify any drive(s), folder or set of folders to search. When you select Custom Folder and the ellipses next to the blank space, the dialog box below will open. Click on the ellipses again and select the specific folders you want to search.

Open Advanced Interface

  • If this is the first time selecting “Open Advanced Interface,” you will be asked if you would like to skip the “Start Search Now” and “Continue Search Wizard” options the next time you use Spirion. Select “No” so that you will have the ability to select from the three options the next time you use Spirion.

  • The first tab in the ribbon at the top of the window is Data Types. Click on it and configure the Data Types that Spirion will try to identify. Social Security, Credit Card, and Driver License Data Types are selected by default. Please note that searches configured with more Data Types are more likely to take longer.

  • The next tab, Locations, allows you to select the place(s) in which Spirion will look for these Data Types that were configured in the previous step.

    • Search locations:

      • ​​Emails: Includes all Email messages on your computer including those from the Microsoft Outlook application. Emails that are accessed through a web browser will not be searched.
      • Files: By selecting Files, Spirion can search through over 200 of the most common file types including Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Access, Adobe Acrobat, Plain text files, ANSI, and Unicode file types

    •  File Locations:

      • My Computer: Spirion will search the entire computer's locally-saved files
      • My Documents: Spirion will only search the files in the Documents folder (C:\Users\username\Documents).
      • Removable Drive: Spirion will search USB drives and devices that are currently mounted to the machine.
      • Cloud Folders: Spirion will search cloud drives such as Dropbox, Amazon CloudDrive, MS OneDrive, GoogleDrive and Box.
      • Custom Folder: In addition to selecting specific Custom Folders for Spirion to search, you can also exclude specific folders. 
  • ​Location Options:
  • Compressed Files: By enabling this setting, you can enable searching of Compressed Files. Compressed files are archives that contain additional files. Spirion will search for compressed files in the File Location you specified previously. 
  • Email Attachments: By enabling this setting, Spirion will search inside the Email Attachments, if a message contains any. Again, emails accessed through a web browser will not be searched. 

Configuring Spirion for macOS 

Search Setup

The following set-up instructions are for configuring a search on Spirion with computers running macOS.

  • After entering your password for your Spirion Profile, you are prompted with a window entitled Search Setup. Click Cancel, for now. We will configure the search in the following steps. 
  • Next, you will see the main Spirion interface. The window has a running ribbon across with different Icons across the top.
  • The Data Types icon allows you to select which forms of sensitive data you want the Spirion search to identify, such as:
    • Social Security Numbers (SSN), Credit Card Numbers (CCN), Password Entries, Bank Account Numbers, Drivers Licenses, DOBs, Phone Numbers, E-Mail Addresses, Personal Addresses, Passport Numbers, and Personal Health Information (PHI).
  • Adjacent to the Data Types icon, the Files icon allows you to enable the File Search. Click on the Files icon and then select Enable File Search.
    • Note: File Search needs to be enabled so that Spirion can search the files stored on your computer. 
  • Next, we have enabled the File Search, click on the Files icon again and mouse over to the Files Locations. You will be provided with three options:
    • Computer: Spirion will search your entire Computer (Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Library, Movies, Music, and Pictures folders).
    • Documents: Spirion will search only your Documents folder.
    • Custom: Spirion allows you to specify which folder(s) you want to either include or exclude from the search. This may be helpful to users who want to search a Removable Drive for sensitive data.
  • After selecting the Data Types, enabling the File Search, and configuring where Spirion will search your computer, you may now begin the search by selecting the Start icon on the ribbon.

Searches in Progress and the Status Window 

The following section details how you can pause, resume, start a search and also how to view the status window. 


Pausing, resuming, and stopping a search in progress

Pausing a search

  • You may temporarily pause a search in progress by clicking the pause button on the Main tab on the ribbon. The Pause button is in the same place as the Start button and is automatically changed from Start to Pause when a search begins. Once you click Pause, it will be automatically changed into a Resume button. 

  • Pausing a search may be beneficial if you need to interact with a certain result and you find incoming results distracting. It is also helpful if you need to temporarily pause Spirion because it is affecting the performances of your computer. 

Resuming a search

  • To resume your search, click on the Resume button, which is in the same place as the Pause and Start buttons on the Main ribbon. 

Stopping a search 

  • If you want to stop the current search, click the Stop button on the Main tab on the ribbon. It will NOT be possible to resume the search once you click Stop

  • Once you click Stop, Spirion will take a moment to complete the current process. You will see a dialog box notifying you of its status. If the location currently being analyzed is large or complex, it may take a long time for Spirion to stop your search. 

    • The Wizard icon will bring up the Results Wizard. 
    • The Advanced icon will take you back to the main Spirion interface. 
    • The Save As icon will save the search results for a later time. 
    • The Reminder icon will present you with several time options. Spirion will minimize itself to your system tray and remain there until the specified period of time has passed. If you want to bring Spirion back sooner, you can double click the System Tray icon. 

Viewing the Status Window

The Status Window provides a real-time summary of your current search.

  • Progress Bar: Depicts the percentage complete for the current location type. 
  • Overall: Depicts how far into the total number of location types of your computer you will search. 
  • Locations Containing Data Matches: This is the total number of items searched so far that contain at least one Data Match.
  • Total Locations Searched: This is the total number of items of all types searched on your computers so far.
  • Total Data Matches: This is the total number of Data Matches found so far across all locations. ​
    • Note: If you closed the Status Window, you can toggle it by clicking on Status Window under the Main tab on the ribbon. 

Managing Search Results

The most important part of running Spirion is determining the most effective and secure way of managing the results. This section details the different actions users can take remediate the sensitive data stored on the user's computer. 


Viewing search results

After a search is completed, Spirion will list the search results in a window divided into three main sections: 

  • Results View: A reporting table that contains all the information about the results of your search and allows you to analyze those results and take action to protect any sensitive information. 
  • Preview Pane: Displays an unformatted version of the result you have selected. Data Matches will be highlighted in yellow. 
  • Properties Pane: Displays additional information about the item you are viewing including Location name, Location type, Data modified, Size, Owner, etc…

Filtering your results allows you to search through the results in your view and temporarily hide any that do not meet your criteria. To turn on filtering, click the Filter Results button on the Main tab on the ribbon. 

  • To search by keyword(s), begin typing in the in the Search For field and results that do not match your criteria will immediately be hidden. 
  • Results can also be filtered by Data Types (i.e., SSN, Phone Number, Email, Address).
  • Finally, results may also be filtered by Location Type (i.e., Files, Emails, etc.)

Taking action on sensitive data

Spirion provides the user with five different Actions that can be used to remove or protect sensitive information:

  • Shred: For files, Shred utilizes a secure United States Department of Defense wiping standard known as DOD 5220.22-M. For other locations, Shred removes the information from your computer using other appropriate methods. 
    • Note: It is not possible to “undo” a Shred. Shredded results cannot be recovered. Once you shred something, it is gone. 
  • Redact: Allows you to remove the sensitive information from a file while still keeping rest of the file. Redact is great when you no longer need the personal information but want to keep the original item. 
    • Note: Redact is only available for certain file types. These file types include Office 2007 or newer files (i.e., docx, xlsx, pptx) and text files (i.e., *.txt, *.log, *.ini). 
  • Encrypt: The  Encrypt feature allows you to protect a file that contains sensitive information where only authorized users with an authorized password can access the file. The file is encoded in a way where the information cannot be deciphered unless you have a valid password. 
  • Quarantine: The Quarantine feature will move your file and shed the original so that it cannot be recovered by anyone who gains access to your computer. It is important that you quarantine files to a location that is highly secure, such as an encrypted drive or a storage device to which unauthorized individuals do not have access. 
  • Ignore: You may use this feature if a result found by Spirion is not considered sensitive data or a "false positive."

For future reference, our Spirion: Managing Scan Results Guide can assist you in shredding, redacting, encrypting, quarantining, and ignoring search results. 

Classification of sensitive data files

Spirion has introduced a data classification feature where users can categorize files containing sensitive data directly through an add-on in the application interface. Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Office (Access, Excel, Outlook, Word, etc.) applications now have an option on the Main Ribbon entitled "Classifications" where users can classify and label their files into three categories:

Level 1 Confidential Data icon. Red circle with white open hand.  Level 1 Confidential Data

.  Level 2 Internal Use Data

.  Level 3 Public Information

Spirion is configured to search every third Thursday of the month at 12:00 PM and, as a result, certain files may automatically be classified under one of the three categories.

Users may also classify any specific file by opening File Explorer, right-clicking on the file, clicking on "Classifications," and finally, clicking on the appropriate classification.Files with a classification will have a small flag on their file icon pertaining to their category. 



Frequently Asked Questions

What is protected data?

Protected data is an all-encompassing term that includes any information defined as confidential, personal, proprietary, health insurance or medical information. For a detailed list of Level 1 Confidential Data and Level 2 Internal Use Data, read Information Classification Handling and Disposal Standard.

Why clean up protected data?

If your computer or electronic storage device is lost, stolen or broken into over the network, protected data may be obtained from your compromised equipment. It's easy to accumulate protected data on your computer. Just from daily use your own personal information (e.g., passwords, credit card number) may be retained from transactions. Monthly absence reports created on your computer may contain your social security number. And long forgotten documents, spreadsheets and e-mails may contain student and employee Social Security numbers or other identifying information. Under California law, the University must notify everyone affected by a breach if protected data was, or is reasonably assumed to have been, acquired by unauthorized individuals. The loss of time and expense to manage a security incident, damage to the University's reputation and possible legal liability makes proactive data clean-up a worthwhile task.

Why can't Information Technology Services do this for me?

The ITS Help Desk or your assigned Information Technology Consultant (ITC) can assist you with the configuration of a Spirion search. However, you must ultimately determine what files to securely retain or securely delete based on your current work requirements or University records retention requirements. In addition, the Spirion software may find your personal protected data, such as passwords, Social Security numbers or financial account information, that should remain private even from ITS and ITC support staff. If you need assistance with configuration, an up-to-date list of campus ITCs is available at http://www.calstatela.edu/itc.

How long will it take to search my computer?

The search duration is dependent upon the number of drives or media being searched and the quantity of files, folders and sub-folders on the computer and storage media. For this reason, clean-up time varies for each individual and is difficult to predict. However, most system testers reported the average scans took one hour or less. Search results can be saved and file clean-up completed at a more convenient time. Since multiple files can be selected for an identical action (e.g., all checked boxes should be deleted or secured), you can manage your results very quickly. If you choose to secure files, a single password will protect all files, which expedites the process.

Spirion runs in the background so you can continue working. While there may be some minimal impact on your computer's processing speed during the search process, those who tested the system reported no impact. But past experience has taught us that having to manage a security incident and notify individuals about the loss of their personal information can take away hundreds of hours from University work, making the time spent on proactive clean-up a very worthwhile task.

Can I pause a search and resume it later?

You may temporarily pause a search in progress by clicking the Pause button on the Main tab on the ribbon. The Pause button is in the same place as the Start button and is automatically changed from Start to Pause when a search begins. Once you click Pause, it will be automatically changed into a Resume button. To resume your search, click on the Resume button, which is in the same place as the Pause and Start buttons on the Main ribbon. 

Can Spirion detect protected data on my flash drive?

Yes, you can configure Spirion to scan the computer's hard drive, all CDs and DVDs in the drives, and finally all external electronic storage devices that are plugged into the computer's USB ports. Multiple external electronic storage devices can be plugged in simultaneously but they are limited by the number of available USB ports.

  • Note: It is not advisable to leave external electronic storage devices unattended if you chose to scan your computer after working hours.

How do I obtain the Spirion software?

  • If you have a computer that receives automatic computer patches and updates from ITS Baseline Services, then Spirion is already on your computer. The icon on the desktop is the side profile of a white "sniffing" dog on a blue background.
  • If you have a computer that is not updated through Baseline Services, please contact the ITS Help Desk at (323) 343-6170. 

What options do I have for managing my confidential files?

There are five options – Shred, Scrub, Secure, Quarantine and Ignore. But not every option is available for every type of computer or file. Depending on where the file is located on the computer, the available options will appear in the Main Ribbon.

  1. Shred utilizes a Department of Defense wiping standard to permanently delete the file.
  2. Scrub removes the personal information and leaves all other content in place. This feature is available only for files created in Office 2007 and later.
  3. Secure uses application-specific encryption to password protect the file.
  4. Quarantine moves the highlighted file to a quarantine location and permanently shreds it from its original location.
  5. Ignore allows designated items to be ignored by Spirion.

Where can I find more information about Spirion?

For more a more detailed user guide, please visit the Spirion website.