How to Avoid Getting Doxxed on LinkedIn
Doxxing on LinkedIn is not new! While having a profile on LinkedIn is important — it's equally important to protect yourself from getting doxxed. Here are some tips to avoid getting doxxed on LinkedIn.
You're on LinkedIn, emailing your connections and business associates, sharing your CVs to potential clients and companies, writing your bios that should capture the interest of business owners. But, do you know that you're also getting some views from people you don't know?
Yes, you may not realize it, but the default setting for your LinkedIn profile is public. Now, what does that mean? It means anyone can see your name, address, phone number, and email address when they visit your profile or get these details through direct messaging.
Not just that, they can also view all your connections and see whom you know. Now ask yourself, if you have any confidential or simply private information in your profile - would you want it to be used in a harmful way?
No, right!? Because having these pieces of information available online can make it easier for people to doxx you, who might want to harass or otherwise cause you harm.
It’s hard to believe that so much personal data of millions of LinkedIn users and organizations was leaked recently in 2021. And this recent data breach of LinkedIn has made the personal data for over 690 million users available for sale.
The surprising thing was, while the leaked data did not include logins or financial information, it did contain some personal information, including full names, email addresses, phone numbers, employment information, LinkedIn usernames, and profile URLs, and other social media accounts and usernames.
So, Doxxing on LinkedIn is not something new! You should know that while having your social presence on LinkedIn is important nowadays — it's equally important for you to learn how to protect yourself from people who could doxx you. Here are some tips to avoid getting doxxed on LinkedIn.
What is Doxxing and how does it work?
Doxxing is a word used to describe a form of internet harassment where someone's private information, such as home address or social security number, is revealed on the internet.
A hacker will utilize various methods to gain access to a user's personal information. This can range from phishers, which are people who pose as legitimate companies (such as Google or Facebook) to get you to click on links that contain malware, keyloggers, and other malicious software.
Once this information is obtained by the hacker, they will most likely post it online for the world to see. This could be done in a variety of ways including forums, websites, and even social networks such as LinkedIn.
In addition to posting this personal data publicly, hackers will also use it for extortion purposes. By having your personal information posted online for the world to see and threatening to release more if you don't pay them off (usually with bitcoins now) means that many victims have no choice but to pay up just so their information gets taken down.
Although these tactics are usually aimed at high profile people like celebrities or politicians; but anyone can be victimized by doxxing. It doesn't matter how much money you make or if you did something that was deemed controversial; your personal.
How to Avoid Getting Doxxed on LinkedIn
1. Protect your identity
Before you start contacting your clients and recruiters, take steps to protect your identity. And protecting identity comes down to shielding your email address, changing your LinkedIn settings, and covering other personal data.
You should start with protecting your email account by using a strong password. Use at least 8 characters, including a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols, and change your password regularly. This might seem pretty generic but these are the best practices that every LinkedIn user must follow.
- It's even better if you separate your emails for different purposes, such as email addresses for personal use with family and friends—and email for professional use.
You can also use a disposable email address. These email accounts can be used for signing up to websites as well as filling out applications. The benefit of using a disposable email is that if the website is hacked or another form of malicious activity occurs, the attacker can't reach you via the email address.
2. Review your name, profile photo, and bio
When you post your email address, home address, and phone number in your LinkedIn profile's Summary section, you risk being doxxed. Make sure you've deleted any unnecessary and confidential or personally identifiable information from your public profile — such as where you went to school or what field of work you're in.
Also, don't forget to review your background photo. See whether it contains anything that could compromise your identity.
If you don't want to use your full real name, you can add a former name, nickname, preferred pronouns, and professional certifications that limit your identity to invaders. Also, be sure to edit your URL so that it doesn't include your full name.
So, when sharing information through your LinkedIn profile, be sure to provide only the most relevant facts and figures. Keep your profile as brief and straightforward as possible. Don’t share your contact information and social media handles in your LinkedIn profile.
3. Tailor your LinkedIn privacy and security settings
The simplest way to avoid getting doxxed is to make your profile private. If you do that, there's no way for anyone else to see your information.
The best thing about LinkedIn is that you can control who can see your profile, network, and activity on the platform that helps you avoid being doxxed.
By default, your basic profile information (name, headline photo) is visible to everybody on the Internet, so if that’s not what you want, be sure to change it under Account settings > Settings & Privacy > Visibility.
- Under the "Visibility" section, you will see that you can choose how visible your profile and network are, as well as your activity on LinkedIn that you can set according to your preferences.
Once you've updated your privacy settings on LinkedIn, you'll need to do a little more work to secure your account. One important step is to enable Two-step verification, which will make it much harder for a cybercriminal to take over your account.
- Go to your "settings," In the bottom left of the page, you'll see an option under "Sign-in & security" to enable two-step verification. Follow the steps and you're done!
Two-step verification makes it harder for people to hack into your account because they might have your password but it is less likely that they have access to your cell phone. If someone tries to reset your password or change security features on your account, you'll get a text message with a link that allows you to enter a temporary code that only works once.
4. Connect to people you might know or trust
When you add someone to your network on LinkedIn, you give them the ability to share your email address with anyone else in their network. This means that if you connect with a malicious person, they can use your email address to spam people in your network.
- To avoid this, never add someone you don't know personally or professionally, and ensure that the person has a solid profile that adds value to your network.
So, it's really important for you to always do some research about the person or company before you follow someone or choose to work with that company. Make sure they are trustworthy and worth having in your LinkedIn connection list.
5. Keep control over what you share or post
You may have thought that the internet gave us all anonymity. It was assumed to be untraceable and it is true that, if you are careful, you can use the internet without private information being known.
One of the good ways is to share everything related to your personal life wisely by knowing what and how to share personal information online. For example, a particular way of phrasing something can indicate where someone went to school or what profession they are in.
If you talk about a recent project at work, it might give away your job title. If you mention a film, people will look for others who have mentioned that film. And so on.
- To prevent your posts from appearing in the public news feeds, you can limit the visibility options of your content to "Connections only". This keeps your posts visible only to 1st-degree connections.
The goal is to keep your personal information to yourself as much as possible.
6. Think twice while responding to messages
Just as you should not open strange emails, you should not open strange LinkedIn messages. It is a good practice to verify that an email address is legitimate before responding to it.
Messages from people you know are generally safe to respond to – but not always. If a message asks you to take any action that seems strange or out of character for the person sending it, do not respond to the message. This includes requests asking you to wire money, deposit checks into your bank account, transfer funds into another account or pay a third party.
If someone contacts you claiming to be a recruiter for your dream job, the best course of action is usually just to ignore the message. Recruiters spend their time contacting people who are unlikely to be interested in their position. They will move on quickly and stop contacting you if you don't respond.
7. Report content if it seems scammy and suspicious
Did you know that a lot of LinkedIn profile pictures are fake? And that a large percentage of the job postings on LinkedIn are scams?
As with any social network, there are risks associated with being yourself on LinkedIn. But because it's a business network, many of those risks can be avoided simply by keeping your eyes open and knowing how to report suspicious content.
The most common scam is the "phishing" scam. Phishing is when someone tries to get people to reveal their passwords or other sensitive information by pretending to be something they're not.
If you are concerned that any content on the site could harm you and others in any way, it is possible to report it directly on the site. So, simply being aware of what's going on around you can not only save yourself but also prevent others to become the victims of these attacks.
When you are a LinkedIn user, you probably know that preventing private information from leaking is more difficult on LinkedIn than on Twitter.
However, it’s important to remember that you are more than just your LinkedIn. There are plenty of other elements of your online identity, and it’s smart to keep tabs on them as well.
Making small changes and not sharing personal information is often enough to keep your information relatively safe from hackers. The key is to always update your security settings because the more people connect to you and share with you – the more vulnerable you are.
On LinkedIn, it’s wise to avoid posting pictures of yourself or sharing certain details about your life that you wouldn’t on other social media sites. You never know who is lurking behind an anonymous identity until they strike. So be careful and be smart, and don’t let a little worry stop you from exploring all that LinkedIn has to offer.