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E-mail & Computing
Allowing Program Access in Windows XP SP2

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About CUSpider

CUSpider is a open-source forensic file scanning program that scans workstations for Social Security Numbers (SSN) and other Personally Identifiable Information (PII). According to Columbia University Policy SSNs and other sensitive PII (as defined by the CU Data Classification Policy) should not be left unencrypted on workstation drives. You can use this tool, which is already installed on a large number of CU staff workstations, to locate and then remediate any SSN/PII you find.

CUSpider scans your computer, produces a list of files which appear to contain SSN information, and provides options for you to take immediate actions for remediation, including secure deletion, and redaction.

is a modification and repackaging of Spider2008 version 4.0.2 (Latrodectus), an open-source program PII-scanning program developed by Cornell University and Wyman Miles (see below for a list of modifications and changes), and released under the GNU General Public License v2.  

*All comments or support queries about CUSpider should be directed to the CUIT Infosec team at*

For more information on Cornell's unmodified Spider2008 and where to download it,  see Cornell's Forensic Tools website.

CUSpider requires a computer with at least Windows XP Service Pack 2, 256MB of RAM, and .NET 2.0 or higher installed. Certain additional features, such as DOCX redaction and PST scanning require Microsoft Office 2007 be installed. Only CUSpider v.1.3.1 (Reilly) is Windows 7 compatible.

Mac and Linux users can check Cornell's Spider site for their OSX and Unix variations. Mac and Linux variants of CUSpider are in development, but not available yet.

How does CUSpider differ from Cornell Spider 2008?

CUSpider has been customized to focus primarily on the information security risks that the CUIT Infosec team has deemed a priority for the Columbia University campus. For example, the CUSpider modification will, by default, only scan for US Social Security Numbers (SSN) of the form ###-##-#### (with dashes).

Other changes include:
  • scanning ALL local and removable drives on the computer by default
  • inclusion of a secure erasure tool to cleanse system of potentially dangerous state files
  • inclusion of an entropy generation tool to ensure that no two installations of CUSpider use the same encryption key
  • disabling of the False Positive/Must Keep mechanism
  • disabling of the Web Updater settings
  • disabling of the State File Directory settings
  • fixes of various bugs in Spider2008 v.4.0.2
  • attribution is made in the splash screen
  • help-menu now leads to the CUIT CUSpider page to offer CUSpider support
  • warning about local RFC-822 IMAP-mailbox redaction added
  • improvement on local RFC-822 mailbox email reporting
  • activation of UNIX syslog reporting capacity
  • warnings added in the case of insufficient write permissions

In keeping with the GNU General Public License v2, all changes made to Spider2008 (v4.0.2) in the making of CUSpider are open-source under the GPL.

Source-code will be made available upon request by contacting

For information on more advanced uses of CUSpider, click here.

All comments or support queries about CUSpider should be directed at the CUIT Infosec team at