How to secure your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn offers many privacy and security options that professionals may not be aware of. Here's what you need to know to stay safe on the networking platform.

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LinkedIn's 630 million members worldwide use the platform for a variety of purposes, from job seeking to networking to sharing content. While LinkedIn profiles often contain personal details and work history information about users, many professionals are not aware of the security options built into the platform, said Madhu Gupta, director of product management, trust and security at LinkedIn.

"Our overall mission is to ensure that LinkedIn is a safe, professional platform," Gupta said. This means raising awareness around account safety and privacy options so users can protect their data and get the most out of the site.

SEE: How to set up two-factor authentication for your favorite platforms and services (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

LinkedIn's security focuses on three main areas that users can control, all by going to the Me tab, and under Account > Settings & Privacy on both the desktop and app version:

1. Safety

LinkedIn's safety team focuses on ensuring members feel secure and in control of their accounts and experiences on the platform, Gupta said.

"That team focuses a lot on ensuring that members do have the right controls over their profile information and how it's used, and really always feel that they understand the choices that they have on the platform as they are using it for various reasons," Gupta said.

A user's core account information they provide to LinkedIn can be updated, changed, or removed at any point, depending on what they are interested in and how they want to use the platform, Gupta said. For example, some users are looking for jobs, while others are trying to gain new skills, and others are building an audience through content sharing, and those are very different experiences.

2. Privacy

"Privacy really means having a choice of how others see your information and how it's used," Gupta said. "We give members a lot of choices on the data they've given us and who they want to see it."

For example, users can choose whether or not they want their profile to be visible to search engines. They can also choose who sees their email address and what information about them is public.

Users also have options in terms of whether or not their connections are visible to others, and whether others can see if they are online. They can also block other users if they want, and control who they want to follow them. For example, if you are trying to build an audience, you can set your default option to "follow" instead of "connect" to limit what people you do not actually know can see on your profile. You can also decide who is able to send you private InMail messages on the platform.

"It really depends on your goals for using LinkedIn," Gupta said. "Some people are actively trying to build a network and connect and communicate with many folks, so it really just helps them make that choice."

3. Data

"We want members to have both the transparency of how their data is being used as well as the data we actually have on them that they have given to us," Gupta said. "We also want to give them the choice of whether or not they want to remove that data."

Under settings, users can scroll to "How LinkedIn uses your data" and see all of the information LinkedIn has collected about them, including the information they input, connections, messages, invitations, and articles.

"Members just want to have controls available," Gupta said. "We think about how do you represent yourself in a professional environment, what does that imply about the way you want to be viewed, who can see information about you, and we just want to give members choice."

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Image: LinkedIn