October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is the perfect time to think about protecting data in all aspects of your life. One area that many people—including lawyers—may be wary of is the job hunt. With so many data breaches in the news recently, NCSAM is the perfect time to address this issue.
It seems that every day, there’s a new headline about a devastating data breach. Yahoo has a class action settlement for people whose data was hacked between 2012 and 2016. Equifax had a huge breach in 2017 that exposed the information of 147 million people. Retail stores, banks, and even hospitals can be targets. Cyber security expert Doug Brush reviews the 2019 state of Cyber in this post. In fact, breaches have become so common that breach fatigue refers to a feeling of hopelessness when it feels like data breaches will never end.
But you don’t have to feel hopeless when it comes to protecting your data during a job hunt. Here are six tips that can help while you’re looking for a new job.
Tip #1: Providing Your Social Security Number
Should you do it? Employers often need your Social Security number (SSN) to verify your employment eligibility or for a background check. If you’re lucky, the employer will ask for it later in the job process. But sometimes it’s required early on, even with the first application. In those cases, you can either simply provide your number or you can offer to deliver your number later in person. Doing so, however, may hurt your chances of moving forward.
If you’re applying for a legal job, chances are higher that they’re using proper security measures since law firms have a lot of liability if their clients’ accounts are hacked. But that doesn’t mean they’re infallible or automatically trustworthy.
If you do need to provide your SSN, all is not lost. Only submit your SSN on a site with an https address and make sure the site is legitimate (see Tip #5.) Then keep an eye on your credit report to make sure your number isn’t compromised later (see Tip #3.)
Tip #2: Keep Your Passwords Secure
Many jobs let you submit your applications online. Make sure you use a new password that you don’t use for any other accounts. This will ensure that if the system’s hacked, your passwords aren’t compromised. Consider using a password manager like LastPass or 1Password to securely store your passwords and to generate tough-to-hack new passwords.
Tip #3: Monitor Your Credit and Other Accounts
No matter how careful you are, you can’t confirm 100 percent that a company is being equally careful with your data. That’s why you’ll want monitoring services in place. Monitor your bank account and other financial accounts regularly for strange activity. Check your credit report for signs of someone opening an account in your name.
You can also sign up for theft protection and credit monitoring. Credit Karma offers free credit monitoring. Some insurance companies like Allstate offer identity protection, and others like LifeLock specialize in identity monitoring.
Tip #4: Keep Your Personal Information Secure
In today’s culture, it’s common for applicants to have websites with their resumes and portfolio clips. You might even use social media sites like LinkedIn as a job-hunting tool. Just be careful about how much personally identifiable information you provide. Don’t post your Social Security number and use a PO Box for business rather than your home address. Get a Google Voice number for business inquiries and keep your personal number private. Don’t share your real birth date online, your family’s maiden names, or any other details that might be used to hack an account or your security questions.
Tip #5: Double Check Emails and Websites
Unfortunately, scam artists might try to pose as a reputable company in order to gain access to your information, whether in the form of spoofing an email address or even a website. Never click on a link from an email you don’t recognize. It’s always OK to write HR and verify that an email, phone call, or message came from them. In fact, they might be impressed with the extra precautionary effort.
Always go directly to the company’s career website, rather than using an email link or another website’s link. This can ensure you’re only sharing your information with the potential employer you’re contacting.
Tip # 6: Use a Trusted Recruiter
A trusted recruiter from a reputable company can offer peace of mind when it comes to protecting your information. Keeping their software and tracking systems secure is part of doing business as a recruiting firm. They’ll likely be familiar with which websites and employers are legitimate and which ones should be avoided. A recruiter will also hold your personally identifiable information until the later stages of a potential offer, lessening the frequency at which your information is shared for only serious offers you’re considering.
Would you like more information on working with a recruiter? You can connect with a Special Counsel recruiter today.
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