Job Search Tips

4 cybersecurity practices to keep in mind while job hunting

Written by Amanda Nunez

Searching for a new job often requires several hours scouring the internet, contacting complete strangers and giving them your information in hopes of being called in for an interview. Many job hunters also post their own personal information on sites such as LinkedIn and Indeed, hoping to get that call or email. These tactics are a great way to land a dream job, but unfortunately, they can increase the risk of identity theft and other cybercrimes. However, there are many ways job seekers can protect themselves from cybercriminals.

Use a separate email for job hunting

Most people know it’s important to have a work-appropriate email address when approaching potential employers. However, even if you already have an appropriate email address, it might be a wise idea to create a new email address and reserve it just for job hunting. 

If your email is reserved for only job boards and prospective employers, it’s less likely you will miss an email asking for a phone call, interview or additional information. Being more organized will make your job hunt less stressful. 

More importantly, though, staying on top of things will help keep you cyber safe from threats like identity theft. When looking for a job, you are giving out more personal information than you probably would normally. This makes you an attractive target for cybercriminals. If a cybercriminal was to break into your email account and you used one email address for all your information, they would gain access to social media accounts, banking information, and other sensitive data. Keeping business and personal emails separate helps ensure if you are the victim of a cyberattack, your financial and social media information will be safe.

Watch out for phishing

Phishing is currently a very popular method for hackers to illegally obtain your information, using a fake email that seems to look legitimate. Job seekers are especially at risk for this kind of cyberattack because oftentimes job hunting involves communicating with companies and people they don’t know. Many job seekers are eager to find a job, so they are more apt to open an email or attachment from somebody they think is a potential employer without looking for signs of phishing.

To keep yourself safe from phishing, there are a few vital steps you need to take. Keep a list of all the jobs you’ve applied to. If you get a message from a company you haven’t applied to, you may want to take extra caution in opening an email or an attachment from that email address. 

Another giveaway is slight misspellings in the email address, website, or body of the email. Phishers will do this to make you think the email is from a legitimate company when it’s actually somebody trying to steal your identity. Other tactics include asking for personal information, claiming there is a financial issue you must resolve, or convincing you an account was hacked. You can always verify with a company whether the email is legitimate or not, but make sure to find a new email from the company’s website. It’s wise to also take advantage of tactics like two-factor authentication to keep cybercriminals away from your personal information.

Use antivirus software

Quality antivirus software will protect your devices from several different forms of cyberattacks such as viruses, ransomware, adware, phishing and more. Many programs will alert you when you try to enter a suspicious site, eliminating the opportunity for a cyberattack to commence. 

For an antivirus program to work to its fullest potential, it’s very important to make sure you have the program downloaded on every device you may be accessing the internet on. This includes desktops, laptops, cell phones, tablets or anything else that is capable of going on the internet.  You can also invest in antivirus software suites, which include additional cybersecurity protections such as Virtual Private Networks, parental control options, and dark web monitoring.

Be careful who you give information to

When applying for jobs, it’s tempting to give your information out to anybody and everybody, hoping a recruiter will notice and call you. However, this is a bad idea from a cybersecurity perspective. 

It’s important to remember that reputable companies will not ask you for personal information like your Social Security number over the phone. Some companies will ask you to fill out legal forms online once you’ve accepted a job offer, but be wary of any company that asks for this information via email before presenting you with a job offer, or a request for a background check. Don’t forget that it’s always okay to call a recruiter or company and ask them if the email and requests are legitimate before handing over your information. 

In the Information Age, everyone is at risk of having their identity stolen. It may be easy to forget about cybersecurity best practices when faced with the anticipation and urgency of a job hunt. However, it is especially important to ensure your safety online while searching for a new job, and have those habits carry over into the new occupation.

About the author

Amanda Nunez