Identify Phishing, Spam, and Malware
With all the email that's sent today, it's a good idea to educate yourself on how to tell the difference between legitimate messages and potentially harmful ones.
Phishing is the practice of emailing likely members of a website (for example, social networks, banks, or games) with the goal of directing them to a legitimate-looking but fraudulent website to obtain usernames, passwords, financial information, and other sensitive data.
LinkedIn has joined the DMARC organization with other industry leaders like Facebook, Google, and PayPal, with the goal of fighting phishing and spam. In accordance with DMARC standards, LinkedIn digitally signs all emails we send. This allows participating email providers to identify our legitimate emails and throw away the phishing and/or spam emails. While most major email providers such as Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and AOL adhere to DMARC standards, a number of providers haven't implemented it.
We also work with many industry partners to identify websites and email campaigns that engage in phishing or spamming, so that we can remove them from the Internet. Sometimes we're able to do this within an hour of the email crossing our radar. These combined efforts should decrease the chances of you receiving a fraudulent LinkedIn phishing or spam email.
Spam differs slightly from phishing. Spam includes unsolicited marketing emails typically sent in bulk from a source that you don't have a previous relationship with, with the intention of advertising goods or services. You may come across some spam on LinkedIn via one of our communication channels, such as member-to-member messaging, group discussions, or network update feeds.
Inappropriate behavior can range from an unwanted message to calculated spam campaigns. Regardless of the extent, LinkedIn is a professional networking site and we expect members to keep all content professional.
Malware can be the result of phishing or spam campaigns. Malicious software, or "malware", refers to a variety of software created for the purpose of harming your computer. This harm can include disrupting your computer's normal operations (making it run slower or causing abrupt pop-ups), or stealing your personal information. Viruses are a particular form of malware that aim to spread from computer to computer with the intention of exploiting your computer's data or deleting it.
To combat malware, we recommend investing in antivirus software, which is a good way to protect your online information in an unsecure Internet environment. Antivirus software is designed to detect potential online threats, as well as prevent them from infecting your computer. By protecting your computer from malicious software, you're also helping to protect other people's computers since malware often spreads through email.
In addition to what you can do to protect yourself from malware, there are steps that we take to protect you:
- We scan uploaded files for malware and viruses. If we identify an infected file or image, we will prevent the download from occurring and keep it from infecting your computer.
- We include your full first and last name in the footer of all our messages, as well as your current professional headline so you can better identify legitimate LinkedIn communications. Any messages claiming to be from LinkedIn without our security footer should be discarded.
- We will never ask you to download software from any of our messages, nor will we ask you to provide sensitive information such as a password or social security number via email.
Legitimate communications sent through LinkedIn
Before you can judge whether a message is legitimate, it's helpful to know about the different types of messages sent through and by LinkedIn:
- Network updates and activity notifications
- LinkedIn Pulse
- Group digest emails
- Groups, jobs, and connections you may be interested in
- Credit card expirations
- Profile forward notifications
- Announcements of new features and enhancements
- Current promotions and research opportunities
- Member-to-member messages
- InMail messages
- Open Profile messages
- Recommendation request from a connection
To change the frequency of these emails, or to opt out of these emails:
- Move your cursor over your photo in the top right of your homepage and select Privacy & Settings. For security purposes, you may be prompted to sign in.
- Click the Communications tab near the bottom of the page, and then click the Set the frequency of emails link.
- Select the types of messages you'll receive and an email frequency option.
- Click Save Changes.
In general, any legitimate member-to-member message (whether you're connected or not) will appear in your LinkedIn inbox. You'll also receive a copy at the primary email address on your account.
Determining if a message is from LinkedIn
It's important to note that all valid LinkedIn messages will contain a security footer:
In general, it's not a good practice to open any attachments or click any links in an email that seems suspicious, or is from a person or company you don't know. Here's a list of indicators that should raise your suspicions that the email is not legitimate:
- The message tells you to open an email attachment or install a software update. LinkedIn will never ask you to do this.
- The message contains bad spelling and grammar.
- The message contains a threat of some kind. Example: Your account will be deleted unless you act right away.
Before clicking on any links within an email message, move your cursor over the links to see where they're directing you. In the case of an email from LinkedIn, if it's not directing you back to the LinkedIn website, you should treat the message as a phishing attempt and delete it.
The email header is another indicator used to determine whether a message was sent from LinkedIn. This email header will provide information on how the email reached you. If the originator of the message looks suspicious, treat the message as an attempted phishing and/or spam email, and delete it. Learn how to find and view email headers.
What you can do if you've already clicked a bad link or attachment
Some phishing or spam messages have attachments that contain malware or lead to virus-infected websites, which can damage your computer. If you believe you've opened or clicked something that may be harmful, we recommend that you scan your computer using a current version of antivirus software.
Here are some tips to help prevent malware from infecting your computer:
- Exercise caution when opening and replying to email messages. Malware spreads most commonly via email attachments, so if you receive an email with an attachment (especially if it's from an unknown sender), don't open it.
- Choose effective antivirus software and keep it up to date. The updates to your antivirus software are extremely important because they aim to keep up with ever-evolving viruses attempting to infiltrate your online information.
- Make sure you're using the most current version of your Internet browser and that you're updating it when prompted.
Report suspicious messages
If you've received a suspicious email purporting to be from LinkedIn, don't click any of the links or open any attachments, and notify us via email@example.com.
If you've received an unsolicited marketing message sent through LinkedIn, notify us via firstname.lastname@example.org .
Attaching a copy of the suspicious message as well as including the email header information will help us greatly in our investigation.