LinkedIn breach: How to protect yourself online

June 27, 2012

Earlier this month, LinkedIn experienced a severe security breach when hackers stole more than six million users’ passwords and posted them online.

The social media site did its best to perform damage control and encouraged users to change their passwords immediately.

While LinkedIn quickly took action, the company has insisted it shut down all affected accounts and doesn’t believe other users are at risk.

The incident raises important questions for businesses about the security of their data, whether shared over social media, stored on a private website, or on a mobile or internet ready device.

LinkedIn director Vicente Silveria has provided some security tips on the company’s blog. “While our investigation continues, we thought it would be a good idea to remind our members that one of the best ways to protect your privacy and security online is to craft a strong password, to change it frequently and to not use the same password on multiple sites,” Silveria wrote.

“Use this as an opportunity to review all of your account settings on LinkedIn and on other sites too,” he added. “Remember, no matter what website you’re on, it’s important for you to make sure you protect your account security and privacy.”

Silveria offers these tips to keep passwords safe:

Changing Your Password:

  • Never change your password by following a link in an email that you did not request, since those links might be compromised and redirect you to the wrong place.
  • You can change your password from the LinkedIn Settings page.
  • If you don’t remember your password, you can get password help by clicking on the Forgot password? link on the Sign in page.
  • In order for passwords to be effective, you should aim to update your online account passwords every few months or at least once a quarter.

Creating a Strong Password:

  • Variety – Don’t use the same password on all the sites you visit
  • Don’t use a word from the dictionary.
  • Length – Select strong passwords that can’t easily be guessed with 10 or more characters.
  • Think of a meaningful phrase, song or quote and turn it into a complex password using the first letter of each word.
  • Complexity – Randomly add capital letters, punctuation or symbols.
  • Substitute numbers for letters that look similar (for example, substitute “0″ for “o” or “3″ for “E”.
  • Never give your password to others or write it down.

A few other account security and privacy practices to keep in mind are:

  • Sign out of your account after you use a publicly shared computer.
  • Manage your account information and privacy settings from the Profile and Account sections of your Settings page.
  • Keep your antivirus software up to date.
  • Don’t put your email address, address or phone number in your profile’s Summary.
  • Only connect to people you know and trust.
  • Report any privacy issues to Customer Service.
About Diana Dietz, e-PRO:
Diana Dietz is the Communications Manager at the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors®. Follow Diana on Twitter.
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One Response to LinkedIn breach: How to protect yourself online

  1. Linda Walters on June 27, 2012 at 7:18 am

    This all sounds great but how about the fact that you cannot possibly remember all the sites where you have used the password that they had stolen and that no matter how many fancy apps you have, it is not convenient to have multiple passwords which change frequently. If we can put a man on the moon we should be able to come up with a better system than this! Good systems are simple and easy. This is not.

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