Most social media websites exist to keep us connected with our family and friends, and to allow us to share and consume media easier than ever before. But there’s a time for play, and then there’s a time for work. LinkedIn is the social network for the professional looking to get ahead in a competitive marketplace.
As of 2015, LinkedIn had 414 million members, who largely use the service to network with others both within and outside their chosen industries. In the simplest terms, it’s an online resume. But for the heaviest users, LinkedIn is much more than that. It allows them to create a detailed profile that includes an extensive description of their work history and a lengthy skills list. They can visit the profiles of current and former co-workers and leave public messages “endorsing” them for specific skills, and those co-workers can do the same right back. In this way, users develop the contacts they need to advance in their current positions or find new ones.
But while a social network for professionals has many advantages, it also leaves users exposed to risk. Those who log in to their accounts most frequently are actively encouraged to fill out every nook and cranny of their profile with personal and professional information. A completed LinkedIn profile is a useful tool, but also contains more than enough information for a hacker looking to steal a user’s identity. That’s the last thing a job seeker wants to deal with.
Protecting your LinkedIn profile from identity theft
If you use LinkedIn regularly, you’ll definitely want to take precautions to protect the information in your profile. Here are some simple steps to follow to improve your security:
- Be wary of fraudulent messages: Unlike many other social networks, LinkedIn is designed so that people who are connected to you – and people who are connected to them – can see your profile. This means that many strangers may be able to contact you. The idea is that this will help you develop contacts. However, it also makes you a target for fraudulent messages. Many scammers seek to use LinkedIn’s system to trick users into revealing additional personal information to them. Always be cautions when opening messages from sources that you don’t recognize.
- Take charge of your visibility setting: Just because your LinkedIn account is public doesn’t mean you have to make every piece of information in your profile readily available. LinkedIn will allow you to view what your account looks like to the general public. You can then go into settings and decide which aspects of your profile that you want to hide.
- Turn off unnecessary app integration: There are a number of websites and apps out there that can be integrated with a LinkedIn account. Of course, even doing something as simple as connecting your Twitter feed increases the chances that you may suffer a security breach. It’s best to avoid doing this if possible.
Finally, be sure to turn on two-step verification. This will send a code to your mobile device every time you log in so that your account will remain locked unless you have the device on hand. Two-step verification systems are among the best ways to prevent thieves from accessing your accounts with stolen passwords.
Think about the security of the personal information that you post online. Consider investing in tools that can help you protect your identity. A good identity theft protection service like Identity Guard will monitor your credit, Social Security Number and public records, and alert you to certain activity that could be indicative of fraud.