LinkedIn has carved out a niche as everyone’s favorite professional-networking site, often overlooked as an area of social media concern when it comes to protecting your privacy. Even though it may be perceived as having a better reputation than other social networking sites, LinkedIn gets a ton of data about you, your career, your personal interests and uses that data to sell ads, services, and generate profits. Similar to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other “free” social media service, you are the product not the consumer. Advertising sales based on your data is what keeps these services running and all too often people are more than willing to give up everything without a second thought towards privacy or data security.
But if you only use LinkedIn for professional networking and job hunting; separating your personal affairs across multiple other services for entertainment and keeping in touch with friends and family should you worry? Absolutely.
Protect your LinkedIn account by:
Enabling Multi-Factor Authentication: LinkedIn makes this easy https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/544/turn-two-step-verification-on-and-off?lang=en
Stop Syncing Accounts: the more access you give LinkedIn, the more opportunities you create for your account to become compromised if one of the linked services gets hacked.
Stop Syncing Contacts: Even if you’ve only uploaded contacts once, LinkedIn will keep monitoring your contacts over time, manage it here: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/43377/deleting-imported-contacts-from-linkedin?lang=en
Turning Off Targeted Ads: Minimize the number of partners and advertisers have access to your information here: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/62649/opt-out-of-sponsored-messaging?lang=en
While that helps maintain the security of LinkedIn account, you also have to be aware of what personally identifiable information (PII) you have posted on to any social networking platform as cyber criminals and scammers do not need access to your actual account in order to take advantage of you. Smart, secure posting practices go just as far as security controls to keep your private information just that: private. This is especially critical now as COVID-related cybercrimes are on the rise, election season has brought trolls and bots out of the woodwork, and pandemic unemployment rates have created desperate job seekers.
Protecting your privacy is key to making sure that you do not fall victim to cybercrime.
Be conscious of what personally identifiable information you are sharing. While it’s great to highlight your experience and accomplishments, no social networking site needs your home address, phone number, or full email address. Don’t make hackers jobs easier for them, keep this information as private as you possibly can.
Do not upload or post your full resume to any social media platform, that includes LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn profile is essentially your professional snapshot (there’s even a feature where you can generate a resume in PDF format right from your profile), there’s no need to duplicate the information.
Apply for jobs using the company’s direct website. Application tracking systems can be annoying but applying direct affords you the security features of a separate platform to safeguard your personal information.
Keep your contact information confidential. LinkedIn has built-in messaging for a reason, there’s no need to blast your phone number and private email address across the Internet. That keeps you and your contacts safe in the long run.
Be cyber safe, protect your privacy, and don’t give hackers an opportunity to turn your job search into a cyber nightmare.
Rae Becerra is a cybersecurity advocate and corgi enthusiast. You can connect with Rae at https://www.linkedin.com/in/srbecerra/