Made any new friends lately?

Published: 2014-06-12
Last Updated: 2014-06-12 22:36:50 UTC
by Daniel Wesemann (Version: 1)
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Earlier this week, we were testing the security aspects of an application that integrates with LinkedIn. Given that I do not own a LinkedIn account, I had to create one temporarily, to be able to test. I used a throw-away email address, and did not add any personal data, but I happened to connect to LinkedIn from the business where we were performing the work.

When I connected back, two days later, from home, to delete the temporary account, I was surprised that LinkedIn suggested "people you could know". And lo and behold, I actually knew some of them. They were employees of the company where we had conducted the test.

The only conceivable link, as far as we could determine, is the IP address. Those other users, company employees, might have logged in to LinkedIn before from at work, and this seems to be a data point that LinkedIn remembers, and uses, in determining "connections" between members.

Nothing much wrong with that - LinkedIn is mostly transparent in their declaration of what data mining they do, the privacy policy clearly states "We collect information from the devices and networks that you use to access LinkedIn. This information helps us improve and secure our Services".  Of course the IP address is a data point that is visible to them, and it makes $$$ sense to store and use it. But, call me naïve, seeing it used so blatantly still caught me by surprise.

Lesson learned: If you create a LinkedIn account, don't do so from the public WiFi at the pub or brothel or bank branch that you frequent -- you might end up with friend suggestions that link you to unsavory characters ;).

Keywords: linkedin privacy
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