Spider: How to Scan

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The Spider program is a tool created by Cornell University that is used to locate sensitive information stored on computers. This includes US Social Security numbers and credit card information. This article explains the basics of how to scan your computer with Spider.

Important: Do not attempt to scan network drives, such as "O" and "P."

The Initial Scan:

  1. Open Spider from the Start menu. If you do not see Spider in your program list please contact CCIT (ccit@columbia.edu).

  2. You will see the splash screen for a few seconds. After Spider loads the welcome screen will appear. This will occur the first time you use Spider. Select the “Just use Spider…” option on the welcome screen.

  3. Click the Spider button to start the Spider scan.

  4. The scan progress is indicated in the bottom of the Spider application.

  5. If the scan finds files that contain sensitive information you must manually check each file. You can easily open a file by right-clicking on the corresponding entry in Spider and clicking “Open…” in the context menu. If you determine that the file does NOT contain sensitive information click, “Ignore as False Positive” so that the file is not flagged in future scans. If it does contain sensitive information, delete the information or file. If you cannot delete or are required to keep the sensitive information, please contact CCIT for assistance.

Subsequent Scans:

  1. After the initial scan, when you open Spider it will automatically check if any files have been modified since your last scan. When it is finished, click the “Next>” button.

  2. The Incremental Scan wizard will open, then click the “Next>” button.

  3. Check the “Files added or changed since previous scan” option, then click the “Next >” button.

  4. Click the “Finish” button.

  5. After the scan finishes, examine each file in the list as described above.