Protect Your Professional Profiles On LinkedIn

Now, we don’t want this to come as a shock, but not everybody is who they say they are on the Internet, even on the widely popular social networking website, LinkedIn.

Like other social networking sites, people use the site to connect to others. LinkedIn boasts access to a vast network of professionals — as in, 347 million that span 200 countries.

In fact, because the site does attract hundreds of millions of professionals, it’s potentially more of an attractive target for cyber security hackers and criminals.

Many don’t think of it that way, though, because LinkedIn’s “professional network” branding often keeps members from exercising the caution to protect their personal information and profile.

Here are some of the best practices to protect yourself from compromising any of your personal information:

Identity Verification

LinkedIn has varying levels of user identify authentication, but none of which can guarantee that a member is the person their profile claims them to be.

All it takes to build a LinkedIn profile is a valid (and easily attainable) email address. That means anyone with an intention to deceive could obtain a LinkedIn membership with minimal effort.

This is not to suggest that LinkedIn is riddled with imposters. LinkedIn is home to hundreds of million of members who use the site for legitimate purposes.

We just suggest exercising caution.

Making Connections

LinkedIn connections are how you build your professional network and credibility. If we’re judged by the company we keep, then deciding which connections to accept, decline or ban is an important decision.

• Be skeptical when contacted by somebody you don’t know—no matter how credible his or her LinkedIn presence appears.
• Seek and accept connections ONLY that add quality to your professional network.

• Do not accept connection requests based entirely on the strength of the requestor’s network. People can build false networks to leverage their false credibility.

• Do not accept LinkedIn invitations via email. Do not click the ACCEPT INVITATION button. Log in to your profile and accept it from LinkedIn directly. Phishing scams are not uncommon using LinkedIn as the hook.

Passwords

You hear a lot about passwords when it comes to cybersecurity safety, and that’s because it’s one of the easiest steps you can take to amplify the protection of your networks. It’s passwords that can save you from people and automated tools that try to illegally access your online accounts. Therefore, your password and the frequency in which you change it become important.

• Try using a passphrase, or a string of characters that form a phrase, as a password. They can be easily remembered and are more likely to survive a dictionary attack than a single password.

• Avoid using your name, telephone number, Social Security number, date of birth, the word “password” or common names and objects as your password.

Stay Signed Out

It’s generally a good security practice to sign out of any Internet activity that requires a login. If you close the browser without properly logging out, it may allow for somebody to have total access to your LinkedIn account from that computer without being challenged for a username or password.

Limit Public Access to Your Profile

Try restricting access to your LinkedIn profile to only logged in LinkedIn members. This will help not only reduce your attack surface, but prevent it from being indexed by search engines.

• Set your account to “Make my public profile visible to no one.” This setting keeps your profile visible to logged in LinkedIn members, but it will not be available to nonmembers, members who have logged out and search engines, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.

And, Finally…

Unfortunately, LinkedIn is just as susceptible to hacks, so members should work towards configuring their profile for maximum protection by balancing privacy, security and safety.

Don’t put any information on your public profile that you don’t want the entire world to know. No email addresses, telephone numbers or physical addresses.

Though the majority of people do use the site to legitimately build their professional network and develop business associations, it pays to cautious to the possibility of breaches.