Privacy & Security Gift Guide

A recent forum post started a conversation about Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on the privacy related goods and services that we use. This launched a series of messages asking for recommendations, and the following post contains my suggested items as gifts for others (or yourself). Please note that while some of these are affiliate links, I use the following products constantly.

VPN: Private Internet Access (PIA): This is by far the most important item on the list. If you are not using a VPN to protect your internet traffic, please consider doing so. If you have people in your life that have contemplated using a VPN, this is a great $39 gift that will remind them of you all year. If you would like to read why I choose PIA as my primary VPN, go here: https://privacy-training.com/pia.html.

Yubikey: I always prefer a hardware-based two-factor authentication (2FA) option over a text message or software token. These tiny devices require participating services to verify that the USB device is present before access to the online account can be granted. My email and financial services all require my Yubikey be pressed before I can log into my accounts. You can also use these for GMail, KeePassXC, and many other options. While there are more affordable options such as the Yubikey Fido, I recommend the Yubikey 4 Nano for most cross-site usability and small form-factor. 

Books: Books always make great gifts. Selfishly, I will first promote The Complete Privacy & Security Desk Reference Volume I (Digital). While we prepare to release Volume II (Physical) early next year, this book might convince others in your life that they should be concerned with digital privacy and security. They might even apply the techniques in the book toward their own lives.

I also rely heavily on two books by Nolo and gift them several times every year. Their latest Make Your Own Living Trust (Direct Link / Amazon Link) is an absolute must-have for anyone considering the creation of a will or trust. Living trusts provide a great layer of privacy when dealing with an estate or titling a home (helps keep you off of those people search websites). This book convinced me to make my own living trust and saved me thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Finally, their Form Your Own LLC book (Direct Link / Amazon Link) is perfect for any entrepreneur or privacy advocate looking to use LLCs as a layer of privacy for their assets. I recently used this book to properly title a new home in a new LLC created for a client.
Microphone Lock: This $6 gadget (or $20 5-pack) can be fun, quirky, and unique. It also provides a legitimate value to privacy enthusiasts. It enables the external microphone option on a phone or computer, and then blocks it. If you encounter any malicious software that attempts to listen to you through your microphone, this device prohibits the action. I currently use the BungaJungle version (test unit) on my phone and laptop at all times, but their kickstarter is over and has not been fulfilled yet. Until then, this is the next best thing.
Protectli Vault: We hosted the creator of this device on our podcast, and it is now my most valued possession on my home network. It acts as a high-powered router that is capable of running pfSense 24 hours a day. It has low-power consumption with great specs. I have mine configured to run my PIA VPN with an absolute kill switch. This small box now protects every device on my network (even guests' mobile devices). It blocks all incoming connections and forces a VPN on all outgoing internet traffic. I will never be without one in the future (I travel with mine).
Prepaid Gift Card: There are many options, but I always recommend the Vanilla Visa. It does NOT require activation for in-store use. Privacy seekers should always have a prepaid option in their possession, for use when cash is not an option.
Silent Pocket Faraday Bag: Signal-blocking bags are not all created equal. I have tested many that did not work at all. The Silent Pocket is a premium option that has worked 100% of the time for me. It also has a magnetic enclosure to prevent those embarrassing velcro releases that get attention from anyone nearby. They have a medium for most phones and a large for the latest oversized devices.
SanDisk UltraFit Flash Drives: You can never have enough USB drives. I prefer these fast and small devices because they are affordable and reliable. Make sure you have backups of your KeePassXC password databases (You did create a password vault, correct?) and any other valuable data, encrypted on USB devices. These also work great for bootable Linux systems as described in my OSINT book.
EFF Webcam Stickers: I have one of these on every laptop I own. They are reusable and leave behind no residue. Sometimes the most effective anti-hacking device is the most simple. These will keep your webcam hack-proof. There are many webcam cover stickers and gadgets, but only these benefit the efforts of the EFF.

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