A Linkedin temporary tattoo decorates the forehead of Baptiste Vauthey at the 2010 Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco. Vauthey's father works for the company.

5 LinkedIn privacy settings you’ve probably never checked

There’s an old saying, “No one ever started a band to not become famous.” Likewise, almost no one is going on LinkedIn to hide.

People are on the third most popular social networking site because it’s become a standard repository for resumes, a non-stop networking opportunity and, more recently, a popular publishing platform.

But you should know that the incredible wealth of data on people and their employers has also proven to be a decent resource for social engineering and competitive research.

Anything you share on LinkedIn is potentially public — which is true of every social networking site, private message and possibly even email. And any information you share could be potentially used to try to sell you something or scam you — especially if your business email is publicly available or easy to guess.

The strange marriage of technology and our unquenchable need to be social can always get us in trouble. But better privacy and usability on LinkedIn is possible with a few steps.

Here are five things to check now. Login to LinkedIn then click on your icon in the upper right corner to select “Privacy & Settings”. You may need to enter your password again.

Let’s start with a couple of important security features, as there’s no privacy without security.

1. Secure your browsing and account.
Click on “Account” and under “Settings” click “Manage security settings”.

Click the box for “A secure connection will be used when you are browsing LinkedIn.”

Then click “Turn On” for “Two-step verification for sign-in”. You’ll have to add your cell phone number, but this is the single best way — besides a strong password stored securely — to assure people don’t get into your LinkedIn account and start acting as you. WARNING: Doing this can give LinkedIn a lot more information to advertise to you more effectively, but it’s not as though you haven’t already volunteered a ton of information to the site.

Now click “Profile” and look under “Privacy Controls” for the remaining settings.

2. Do you want people to know you’re looking at them?
If you’re a recruiter, this probably a great feature. If you’re not in the business of making as many connections with strangers or old acquaintances as possible, it’s not. So click: “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile”.

Then select “Anonymous profile characteristics such as industry and title” or just plain “totally anonymous”. Now no one will receive an email saying you’ve looked at their profile.

3. Turn off Activity Broadcasts.
Every change you make in your profile gets broadcasted to all your connections unless you tell LinkedIn to stop it. This could alert your employer or fellow employees you’re about to conduct a job search or just annoy everyone. To turn this feature off click “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts” then uncheck the box for “Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies”.

4. Hide your connections.
If you’re a salesperson and don’t want clients poached or an employee at a company with very high value hack targets, consider hiding your connections.

To do this click “Select who can see your connections” then select “Only me”.

5. Do you want people to find you by your phone number?
Okay, this may be getting a bit paranoid. But you wouldn’t have read this far unless privacy really matters to you — and we just advised you to give LinkedIn your phone number. Can you think of a good reason to let people find you by your phone number? Me either. But you can’t completely block this feature, you can only limit it.

Click “Manage who can discover you by your phone number” and select “My 1st-degree connections only”.

That’s it. What other settings do you think should be checked?

[Image by A Name Like Shields Can Make You Defensive | via Flickr]

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