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Protect Your LinkedIn Account with Two-Step Verification

By Eric Cook

LinkedIn Two-Step VerificationThere's no doubting that our digital identity is pretty important, especially these days. The last thing any of us want is for someone to compromise one of our social media accounts and start posting, tweeting, connecting as us... without our permission (or knowledge). I've had two-step verification turned on for both Facebook and Twitter for quite some time and recently discovered this feature is now available in LinkedIn as well. I've enabled it, and suggest you do the same.

Why Two-Step Verification?

Quite simply, it allows you to know when someone is logging into your account, and hopefully that someone is YOU. With this feature enabled you'll get a notification on your mobile device with a six-digit code once the email and password combination is entered. In order to complete the login process, you'll need to enter that code or no-dice. If you happen to get a notification unexpectedly and you're NOT trying to log in, then you know your password has been compromised and someone's knocking at the door (or, trying to break it down) and trying to get into your account. You can quickly get your password changed and be sure your account remains protected.

Back in my banking days, I used this type of two-step authentication to log into sensitive banking services (like our Fedline terminal) and today some commercial banking services are now offering this functionality for banking customers. We used a device called a token generator that cycled through random numbers every 20 or 30 seconds. This code had to be used in combination with a username and password every time we wanted to get logged into the system to ensure that it really was the bank trying to get in. Today, the mobile device performs the task being a token generator and can help make the login process for all of us much more secure.

But First, Let's Talk About Passwords

Sure, passwords can be a pain and many of you (c'mon, admit it) may even be using the same password for multiple accounts. If you have a password you like to use, at least try and customize it a little bit so that it's slightly different for each of your logins with something at the end. Some will add the site's name or initials along with a special character to their "standard" password just so it's not 100% the same.

I recommend, and I've been migrating all of my passwords to this process, using a password keeper/app that helps keep things organized (and secure). I use (and love) LastPass ($12/year) and they have a free version that works great if the $1/month scares you as long as you don't need to share your passwords with anyone. With it, you use one "super secure" password for your LastPass account and then it can automatically generate random passwords for you like "RhZ42c5GRH7o" (no, that's not one of my real passwords) for any of the sites you are using that require a password.

While you'll likely never remember them due to their complexity (unless you're wicked smart like Rain Man), that's kind of the point and why LastPass is an important part of the process. The service works on mobile devices (iOS and Android), as well as on your computer, so it's super convenient and easy to use. Given how many sites require a password these days (social networking, email accounts, banking, online shopping, travel, etc.) once you're set up, it will be a real time-saver... and keep you a whole lot more secure!

Now, Let's Enable LinkedIn's Two-Step Verification

Activating this feature is pretty simple. First, start by hovering over your profile picture in the top-right of the LinkedIn screen and then scroll down to your Privacy & Settings and click Manage. You likely will be prompted to enter your password since this is a pretty sensitive area. It's best to do this from your desktop, so if you're reading this on mobile set a reminder to take care of this next time you're at the computer.

LinkedIn Two-Step Screenshot 

Before you can enable two-step verification, you need to make sure that your mobile device is registered with your LinkedIn account. You'll find this under Account (heading) > Basics > Phone Numbers. Once that's done, you can now complete the process. Click on the Privacy (heading) and then go to Security > Two-Step Verification. It probably says "off" now, so click Change and then follow the instructions to turn this feature on. LinkedIn will send a code to your mobile device to complete the process. Once that's entered into the system, you're protected.
Don't Forget About Facebook and Twitter

If you are using Facebook and Twitter, you can (and should) also set up their verification process to make sure that you know if someone is trying to get into one of these accounts as well. To get started with Facebook, you can read more about their login approval process here and Twitter also has an easy step-by-step instruction article that's found here.

Now you're on your way to a more secure web experience. Be safe out there, and happy networking (more securely)! And, if you want to chat about other ways to get the most out of your social media strategy, be sure to get in touch!

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