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Considering over 310 million people were affected in the US due to data breaches and exposure incidents in 2020, we figured the best gift guide this holiday season would be online privacy and internet security tools to help improve your cybersecurity.
We’ve prepared a detailed list of the most helpful cybersecurity gift ideas in 2021, so you can knock out your shopping list before the big rush. In it, you’ll find lots of physical gift ideas (for those that like wrapping?) as well as software that can be sent in an instant via email and other online channels. Who knows, you may even find a few options worth looking at to treat yourself as well.
Check out our Cybersecurity Gift Guide for 2021 below.
Everyone hates a slow internet connection, and oftentimes it’s caused by the equipment we use. Users tend to opt for renting a WiFi router from their internet service provider instead of going out and buying one for themselves. The benefits of doing this are convenience and cost mainly. However, oftentimes this equipment is outdated, low-quality, or lacking the power of a high-speed router.
If you know anyone who still relies on their ISP’s equipment, consider gifting them a new router. Newer models today can help improve a user’s WiFi connection and streaming experience, as well as protect their home network from cyber attacks. Moreover, these routers are usually customizable – allowing users to password protect them, manage network access via smartphone, and even install VPN software for additional security.
To help you sift through the hundreds of options on the market, we’ve outlined the best WiFi Routers in 2021. They range from $50 to a few hundred dollars depending on the model you choose and last anywhere from 4-6 years if handled with care.
In addition to a secure router, WiFi extenders are another great upgrade to anyone’s internet setup. A WiFi extender (also known as a WiFi repeater or booster) is a low-cost upgrade for improving your WiFi connection that’s easy to install and provides the same level of security as a new router.
Essentially, it’s a plug-in device that helps extend the range of your existing network by re-broadcasting WiFi signal from your router. This means you can say goodbye to dead zones in your home.
The best part is that most extenders are compatible with any router, so individuals don’t need to replace their existing equipment to use one. They’re also fairly inexpensive, costing between $20 to $50 per unit on average on Amazon.
A VPN service masks a user’s IP address by establishing a secure connection between your device and their servers while connected to the internet. This effectively makes you invisible to your ISP who may throttle speeds for certain activities, as well as websites you visit that use an IP address as a unique identifier to direct ads your way.
The added privacy also allows users to unblock geo-restricted content, avoid predatory price-hikes on airfare, and improve speed performance in some cases. For the price, this cybersecurity gift is an easy addition to anyone’s online tools. We’ve listed a trio of privacy-focused VPNs below that make for great gifts.
Whether used for unlocking streaming websites or providing increased privacy, NordVPN is a go-to choice for many VPN users. They operate under Panama’s jurisdiction, as there is no mandatory data retention laws there, so they don’t need to store any user logs. This makes it perfect from a privacy perspective, and it’s a great gift for improving cybersecurity practices.
As for gifting directly, they sell a physical box that includes a product key and a VPN user guide to walk you through the process of setting up a NordVPN account. It can be found in a number of stores in the United States and Canada, as well as via Amazon in the United Kingdom and Germany.
CyberGhost has a massive server network that encompasses 91 countries worldwide. They have dedicated servers for streaming and torrenting sites, as well as ad and malware blocking, and automatic redirection to the most secure version of any website you visit.
They have apps for every device imaginable, and it’s useful if you want additional privacy features to go with access to streaming sites.
ProtonVPN is another solid provider that places an emphasis on security. Based in Switzerland, it was developed by the team behind the popular ProtonMail service. They were the first VPN to release open source apps on all platforms and underwent a security audit in 2020 to verify their logging claims.
Password managers are often overlooked, but you’d be surprised at what this simple software can do for a user. It’s an easy and affordable solution that keeps data safe, saves users time, and provides a fallback in case you forget logins.
With the average user having upwards of 150 online accounts, it’s tempting to reuse the same password for multiple sites. That’s a major red flag in terms of online security, as one data leak could cause you to be locked out of everything at once.
A password manager normally comes in the form of an app or a browser plugin, which can be accessed with a master password. Many can be used to automatically set up strong passwords for separate accounts, update old logins, and automatically fill in fields.
Here are the best on the market today:
Known for its airtight security and capable free tier, Bitwarden is an open-source password manager with a no-knowledge architecture, AES encryption, and multiple authentications (2FA and U2F). Users can easily transfer their passwords over to Bitwarden’s app with ease, and it’s available for desktop, all browsers, Android, and iOS.
They offer premium plans for business and personal use, as well as a basic free account that offers core features. Here’s how to gift a Bitwarden account to someone else:
- Send the recipient payment via PayPal
- Direct the recipient to sign up for the suggested account at Bitwarden.com
NordPass is NordVPN’s password manager, and it packs a lot into a simplified service. While it’s not open-source, NordPass utilizes much of the same security measures that BitWarden does including AES encryption and multi-factor authentication (MFA) methods like biometric logins and physical keys. It also runs on a zero-knowledge architecture, so not even it knows what you store in your account.
You can currently pick up NordPass premium for less than $2 per month, and it can be bundled with NordVPN at checkout as well.
1Password is another great password manager that’s great for families seeking a joint plan. Users can share logins with each other, all while not breaking the bank. A 1Password subscription comes with unlimited storage, unlimited device connections, and the ability to store secure notes in your account.
It’s also compatible with most major platforms and devices, offers multi-factor authentication, and comes with a 14-day free trial for testing before you commit.
Rather than relying on Microsoft or Google, it might be a good idea to get a private email service. After all, Gmail freely admits to showing ads “based on your online activity while you’re signed into Google.”
A private email service will be helpful in this regard, as you’ll be paying for a product rather than being treated like one. As for what to look for, strong encryption is a must. Also, so is a proven track record of putting customers first. We’ve listed a couple of services below that’d make a great addition to anyone’s cybersecurity.
In tandem with ProtonVPN, ProtonMail is well known in the online security sector as a capable email service. It’s based in Switzerland and offers both free and paid subscriptions. The service itself comes with features like end-to-end encryption, anti-phishing, anti-spam, two-factor authentication, and accessibility via the Tor Network. In keeping with the holiday season, you can buy ProtonMail Gift Cards directly from the ProtonMail online store.
Tutanota is a high-grade email encryption service that operates all of its servers out of Germany. Thanks to this jurisdiction location, Tutanota is privy to EU GDPR law and the Federal Data Protection Act of Germany. This means Tutanota can’t share any data from its servers without explicit consent from users.
This email service also utilizes symmetric and asymmetric encryption technology for maximum security. They encrypt emails from end-to-end when both parties are active Tutanota users and allow users to send password-protected emails to non-users. Their subscriptions include a free tier, 2 upgraded paid tiers, and the option to add on extra storage space.
There’s nothing worse than sensing someone peering at your screen, especially if you’re entering a password or accessing a banking app. A privacy screen is essentially a sticker that you place on top of a device so it can be seen by your eyes only. Unless you look at your screen straight-on, a glare will hide the contents of your screen.
Rather than opting for a specific brand, it’s worth looking online as it’s essentially just a thin piece of plastic that is formed to fit your phone/tablet.
Generic options are sure to be cheaper, but they should fulfill the same function when all is said and done. Amazon may be your best bet at finding an affordable privacy screen.
Similar to a privacy screen, the aim of webcam covers is to prevent any potential snoopers from peering into your personal business. Most devices today have a camera, and if there’s anything the Edward Snowden leaks taught us is that devices are easier to hack than we’d like to believe.
A webcam cover would be the perfect cybersecurity stocking stuffer for this holiday season. They’re small plastic sliders with adhesive on the back that you can stick to most devices – be it your iPhone, laptop, desktop, or tablet.
Amazon sells them for as little as $5 for a pack of six for a single user to protect multiple devices at once.
Encrypted USB Drive
Most USBs can be encrypted with software that comes with the drive itself. This is done with a password, which is used to access the data within. A hardware-based approach is what we’re looking at for the purposes of this list, as it offers improved security.
For example, you can buy a self-erasing drive that deletes all content after 24 hours of inactivity. Other methods include AES encryption via a small chip found inside the drive.
Another example would be Kingston IronKey devices that permanently self-destruct after 10 consecutive incorrect password attempts. It won’t explode like James Bond, but it will display warning messages indicating that: “This self-destruction is permanent and there is no way to recover an IronKey once it has self-destructed.”
Of course, this also voids the warranty, so we’d advise against testing to see if it really works.
Gifts That Protect
Instead of coffee mugs and socks, consider gifting your friends and family better online security this holiday season. It’s true the best way to improve cybersecurity is through practices, rather than gadgets or software. This includes regularly updating devices, setting up strong passwords for logins, being wary of suspicious files, and enabling 2-factor authentication whenever possible.
Regardless, the options mentioned above will vastly improve cybersecurity and the overall internet experience for the average user, so long as the recipient actually uses their new tech in the first place. It can often feel like a chore to take steps to improve online security, but gifts are an easy, solid step in the right direction.
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