After a series of high-profile data breaches in the social media space (such as Facebook data breach), LinkedIn privacy has come under scrutiny alongside other leading platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

Two key LinkedIn security breach attempts were acknowledged by the company in 2012 and 2016 and both involved the theft of data from millions of users, with over 117 million user accounts compromised in the 2016 attack.

Russian hackers were offering to sell passwords and other user data to cybercriminals, and LinkedIn was roundly criticised for allowing the breach to happen in the first place and then for failing to manage the fallout adequately.

Since then, the broader industry issue of cybersecurity has become particularly high-profile and standards and approaches to managing user data are improving all of the time. However, the approaches that cybercriminals use are also evolving at a pace!

This means that you have to be proactive when it comes to managing your LinkedIn privacy settings and avoiding serious repercussions of any LinkedIn security breach in the future.

With highly motivated hackers using increasingly sophisticated techniques in a bid to carry out LinkedIn identity theft attempts, users must be vigilant and informed. Remember, if there is a LinkedIn security breach at the platform level, you will only find out after the event!

Understanding the LinkedIn’s Privacy Policy

The LinkedIn Privacy Policy is well worth reading carefully if you’re a user of the site.

  • How to secure your profile using LinkedIn privacy settings
  • LinkedIn privacy settings are accessed via the Settings and Privacy page.

Here you can:

  • Manage your personal settings, including the degree to which other users can see your activity
  • Adjust your ad settings
  • Check and update your privacy
  • Set your communication preferences, and,make sure you are happy with the way your data is being used and shared
  • Set your job seeker preferences, which include allowing recruiters to see that you’re looking for new opportunities
  • Block or hide other users using lists.

You can also see your own account details at the top of the page, including:

  • Your headline
  • Your connections
  • Any premium accounts

It’s important to review these regularly as part of avoiding any LinkedIn identity theft. Make sure you are wholly comfortable with the information that you show about yourself, particularly where you link to other sources of digital content such as:

  • A personal blog
  • Other social media accounts

You’ll see the LinkedIn privacy policy on the ‘settings and privacy’ page. This page is categorised into four main tabs that allow you to easily find the sections that you want to check and update.

How to access the Linked In privacy page

Go to the top of your homepage and you’ll see settings & privacy’ detailed in the dropdown menu. Alternatively, you can visit the page directly by typing: https://www.linkedin.com/psettings/ into your browser bar.

Actions you can carry out via the LinkedIn security and privacy page.

The account tab
Here you can:

  • Add or delete email addresses
  • Change your password
  • Select a different language

The privacy tab

  • Adjust what information can be viewed about you – taking care to minimise it
  • Adjust how you are comfortable with your information being used by LinkedIn
  • Download your data

The ads tab

  • Here you can manage the advertising that LinkedIn shows you by choosing the right settings for your needs.

The Communication tab

  • Here you can adjust contact preferences – including frequency – for both LinkedIn and other third parties.

5 smart LinkedIn privacy best practices

View your public profile

Remember that your public profile is designed to appear in public search engine searches. This means that, potentially, anyone can see it without needing to even log in to LinkedIn as a user. So, use your public profile settings tab to see what level of visibility you have.

The default setting means that visitors will have full access to your profile as a whole, including your image, work role, education, summary, website, member groups and other sources of information – including any sites that you have linked to.

This view is useful if you want to provide full transparency. Otherwise, uncheck any features that you don’t want on public display.

Visibility on member feeds

Again, your personal feed will be shown on member feeds unless you adjust them. These could be notifications that you have posted a recommendation, joined a new group, contributed a blog or updated your work. Go to profile settings and choose ‘member feed visibility’ to adjust the four different settings available to select from.

Here you can choose whether to make your actions on the platform visible to all, only to those within your own network, just to direct connections – or no one at all. The latter two settings are best for privacy and to avoid any LinkedIn security bereaches.

Twitter links

You can stream Twitter tweets to your profile on LinkedIn, or feed your LinkedIn status to your Twitter feed in a reciprocal relationship between the two social media platforms. It’s handy from a time-saving perspective, but be careful. Firstly, Twitter isn’t always used for business purposes, so be careful about feeding in personal information to LinkedIn by accident.

Check your settings in the Profile Settings section and then go to Twitter Settings to add/remove your Twitter accounts and choose the display and share levels that you feel comfortable with. This includes the option to only show your Tweets that have the #in hashtag on LinkedIn.

Profile views

Located on your homepage you’ll see a ‘Who’s viewed my profile’ box on the right. This tells you how many times people have recently viewed your profile, and also how many times it has shown in search engine results.

Adjust this in the privacy settings section, under Profile Views. You can choose to have all information shown in these searches, including your image and title, or simply anonymously. Finally, you can make your profile invisible.

Applications

LinkedIn has a platform which allows APIs to operate, and for developers to integrate the platform to third-party websites and business applications. Member users have tried these apps and given external sites access to their profile as a result.

Look at the Privacy Settings section and find the Authorized Applications tab to add or delete these as necessary. Remember, the fewer routes to your account that you provide, the safer it will be.

In summary

LinkedIn does provide clear information about how to manage your security and privacy settings, and it is up to each user of the platform to be proactive and vigilant in doing so. Avoid allowing default settings to give too much information away, and keep a close eye on your account in case any suspicious activity is noted.

Remember, in the digital world, not everyone is operating with transparent and positive intentions – and hackers are just as motivated as honest business people when it comes to achieving their goals!