It pays to be paranoid in a time of rampant breaches, social media account extortion, identity theft, fake security products, ransomware, and hack attacks on all. That's why we've put together a gift guide for those among us who don't want to find out they have a security issue the hard way. Typically that would include things like VPN subscriptions or password manager recommendations, but that's no fun when it comes time for everyone to open their presents.
That's why we've selected six sweet gadgets that'll protect the privacy and security of those you care about. Carefully screened to keep out the "security snake oil" products flooding the gadget market, our picks have been selected with a keen eye on things that actually work to fight attacks that actually happen.
There's one way you can keep your accounts safe: by carrying a physical key that's required whenever you log into your online accounts. That's why some hackers always carry a YubiKey with them everywhere they go. Phishing, malware and other attack methods simply won't work because they'd need your username, password and plug in your YubiKey to work. The little USB key acts like two-factor authentication for any service or site you register it with (ones that support two-factor, that is). What's more, it requires no special software, works across multiple devices, and rides along discreetly on your keychain.
Attacks like ransomware can spread between devices when you connect them, but often times we can only charge our phones or tablets from a USB port. This means we run the risk of viruses or data hacking if we pull a little extra battery life from an unknown socket. Plus, it usually means slow charging. This little must-have solves all of these problems: it's a lightning-fast charge and blocks the transfer of data. PortaPow's Micro USB Cable is the same thing but in micro cord form: it prevents your device going into data transfer mode by blocking data on the line, and like the PortaPow USB, it charges faster than standard USB cables.
If you've been keeping up with the news, you may know that malicious hackers can easily clone your passport or steal your credit card, debit, or driver's license credentials just by brushing up against your wallet or purse. That's because anything with an RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) chip in it can be cloned by someone using very inexpensive hacking tools. The only way to prevent that is to carry an RFID-blocking wallet or passport case, which physically blocks this kind of personal breach... Except most of them are cheaply made and look awful, and seldom have options for those of us who like to flaunt our paranoia with feminine flair.
Know someone with Twitter anxiety, constantly checking to see if they've been mentioned? Or would you like to know when your computer's acting weird behind the scenes, like if suddenly your CPU starts getting slammed for possibly nefarious reasons? Maybe you want to know when a web page has changed, or anything else you'd like a notification for... That's what the Blink is for. It's a tiny, discreet USB plug that's actually an LED indicator, one that you can set to flash in different colors and patterns depending on what you've set it to tell you. It works with IFTTT for serious flexibility, and comes with a five foot extension cord.
Picking locks isn't hard to learn, but few people pick up the skill. If you ever get locked out of your house, need to get out of handcuffs, or don't want to call some creepy locksmith to help you get into your home, The Lock-Pick Card is a must-have. The wallet-sized card is actually a nine-piece lockpick toolkit. Simply snap the tools out of the card whenever you need to save your own bacon.
More people are starting to realize that to be safe online from criminal hackers, nosey marketers, stalkers, and overreaching authorities is to be anonymous. And that's a very good thing. One of the most popular "snake oil" privacy gadgets is the so-called "Tor in a box" -- a plug-and-play gadget that promises to make you anonymous online. Nearly all of these are made by clueless charlatans whose products put you at risk. But you or your favorite hacker can just make or build an "Onion Pi" for about $69.95 in parts with this free tutorial.