We’ve all had to fake our way through getting a present we didn’t like or want. The ugly sweater. Socks or underwear. This hideous blue catfish tie. A cheap kitchen appliance that stops working after three tries. The dreaded regift of something you gave someone last year. We should always be thankful for anything we’re given, but sometimes, it’s difficult to see the big picture.
Cybersecurity shouldn’t be a gift. Everyone should already have most of things, if not all of the things on the list below. But we all know that’s not the case. And while the special someone in your life isn’t going to jump up and down with joy when they open a box with a password manager license in it, they’ll eventually thank you when they realize how much better their (cyber) life will be.
After all, not every gift needs to be something the recipient wants. Things they need are usually more important (like clothes instead of toys). Cybersecurity is something everyone needs.
Here, in no particular order, are the top 10 cybersecurity gifts from your friends at SAC:
We said this list was in no particular order but this one is clearly one of the best options. Password managers are one of the top security tools a person can have. They store all of your logins and passwords across many devices, so you’re not tasked with trying to remember them. You set up one master password and the rest is done. Some have extra bells and whistles like secure notes, saving IDs and credit cards, and sending security alerts when a certain company or website has been breached. Others just get the job done, which is better than not having a password manager.
We’ve long preached how important strong, unique passwords are to your security. Password managers make it easy. And yes, they’re safe. They are also inexpensive and easy to wrap!
VPNS, short for virtual public network, are a must-have for that world traveler in your life. Or even for that friend who routinely goes to a local coffee shop and jumps on their public WiFi. Public WiFi is a wonderful thing that has become a standard for many establishments. But they’ve also become the standard hunting ground for personal information.
With the proper tools and know-how, cybercriminals can intercept your internet traffic on a public network and steal things like your usernames, passwords, Skype conversations, credit card numbers, etc. VPNs prevent this from happening by encrypting your traffic and giving you a secure connection.
Like password managers, VPN subscriptions are generally inexpensive and easy to set up. You might get a puzzled look when the recipient opens their gift with a shiny new VPN. And you might not sell them on why they need it immediately. So feel free to share this story or this story or this story. They’ll eventually come around.
Premium Antivirus Software
There’s an old cliché that goes something like “you get what you pay for”. Or in this case, what you don’t pay for. The truth is, most free antivirus software suites do an adequate job of keeping your computers and devices safe. And something is always better than nothing. So if you’re running one of the freebies, at least you are protected.
But do you get better protection with a paid subscription? That’s an interesting question and one we can’t directly answer. Technically, paid subscription services are rated higher and detect more threats. But if you’re a smart, cyber-aware internet user who doesn’t click on popups or malicious links, and doesn’t visit shady websites, you’re probably going to survive without any infections. There was an article earlier this year that questioned if paying for antivirus software is a waste of money. We encourage you to read it and do a bit of research on the matter and draw your own conclusions.
What paid subs really come down to are bells and whistles. We love bells and whistles. Some subscriptions include additional features such as anti-malware scanning and built in VPNs (so you can kill two birds with one stone). Some scan USB drives and email and use social network protecting, and offer support for free virus removal. Again, you’ll need to research which antivirus fits the needs of the recipient and go from there. Either way, it’s a great gift that anyone would be happy to have.
Privacy Screen Covers
Many of us get to travel for work or get to work while we travel, which means at some point, we’ll end up in a busy environment with lots of wandering eyes while accessing sensitive information. It’s not recommended, but it happens. A good way to keep shoulder surfers at bay is with a privacy screen cover.
These covers allow only you—the person looking directly at the screen—to see what’s being displayed. People to the left or right of you will only see a darkened screen. This is especially handy in tight spaces like an airplane or bus. You’ll need to know the exact dimensions of the computer you’re buying for (almost all standard sizes are available) but this makes a great stocking stuffer for the traveler in your family.
Sticking with the traveling theme, we’re all about that carry-on life and never checking bags at airports. In fact, the author of this blog and his wife managed a six-week trip around Europe without ever checking a bag. It can be done. And it is glorious.
But that does mean a lot of extra toting around of various items like small luggage, backpacks and computer bags. Keeping these items in your sight and on your person at all times is security 101, but things happen. Never underestimate criminals. This is where luggage trackers are your friends.
They come in many different shapes and sizes and offer many different features. Some act as alarms if a bag is stolen. Others have GPS enabled tracking with long battery lives so you can find your luggage if it’s stolen or lost by the airport (which can easily happen even if you gate-check). This one alerts you if you’re luggage gets too far away from you, and also has GPS tracking. There’s an endless amount of options in the anti-theft world of bags and luggage. Do a little research, find what fits best, and give that traveler in your life a little extra security and comfort.
Nothing is worse than having a hard drive crash and losing a bunch of important data. In this day and age, where storage is so inexpensive, it’s foolish not to have backups. Multiple backups, in fact. There are a ton of free options for backup software available. But backing locally is only half the battle. We also need to have an offsite backup, which generally means the cloud.
Like backup software, there a ton of options for cloud storage. It’s really a matter of figuring out how much storage is needed. For example, Google Drive currently charges $1.99 a month for 100 GB. That’s likely fine for a standard user, but for someone who is into photography, video, or audio, it’s not nearly enough. So a true cloud service, like Amazon or BackBlaze, is a better bet. Amazon offers unlimited storage for $60 a year. BackBlaze is $10 cheaper.
Again, this requires some research. You need to know how much data the recipient uses monthly, if the cloud backup is secure, and if the backup automatically runs in the background as directed (most of them do). Here’s a short article comparing a number of services to get you started.
Secure USB drives
Maybe we’re getting a bit paranoid, but secure USB drives exist for a reason. What are secure USB drives? They come with top-level encryption, generally become inoperable if tampering is detected, and obviously require a password.
Why would anyone want such a thing? Because we really, really value our data, especially our sensitive data, and sometimes we need to make said data portable. If you know someone like that in your life, fancy USB drives make for a great gift.
Like this one, that uses a fingerprint reader in order to decrypt. Or this one that comes with automatic cloud back up. And then there’s Ironkey, one of the most secure and most rugged USB drives on the planet (but get out your checkbook).
Truth be told, we don’t recommend transferring sensitive data onto portable media since it’s so easy to steal or lose. But if you must, then secure USB drives are a great investment.
RFID Blocking Gear
Secure USB drives and now RFID blocking wallets, we must have our tinfoil hats on! Here’s the deal, there is no such thing as silly security. We’re not recommending you build a bomb shelter, but a simple purchase that ups your security is sort of a “why not” scenario.
RFID stands for radio frequency identification and it’s been widely used for over a decade. It’s how you make purchases by just holding up your credit card to a scanner. Some passports have RFID chips in them in an attempt to thwart fraud and counterfeiting. Some states issue driver’s licenses with RFID chips for the same reason. The main theme here is fraud protection.
But, as you might guess, if a chip can be read wirelessly, it is a security concern. This article from four years ago laid out those concerns, establishing how easy it is to steal information from RFID enabled items. As such, the RFID blocking industry blew up. You can now get multiple accessories with RFID blocking material. And again, why not? If you’re already planning on gifting someone a wallet or purse or backpack, it’s not much more expensive to find one that includes RFID blocking.
Some of Winn’s Books
You didn’t think we’d get through an entire listicle without at least doing a little self-promotion, did you? Well here we are! For the reader in your life, check out Winn Schwartau’s Amazon page, which is full of great material. Might we recommend Pearl Harbor Dot Com? Or perhaps Internet & Computer Ethics for Kids? And if you want something a little more recent, then hop over to his website and download a free draft of the first three chapters of his new book (due out very soon) Analogue Network Security.
Free stuff from SAC!
Here we go gain! More shameless self-promotion. But it’s FREE. Our freebies site has a ton of materials that you can use at no charge. Which means you can build a security awareness gift package on the cheap. Just download some of our posters and documents, take them to a high-quality print shop, and just like that you have an awesome, low-budget gift idea. We have some great stuff for kids as well, such as Security Cat’s Super Awesome Activity Book, which wouldn’t be all that expensive to have made into a physical book. Did we mention this stuff is free?