A Hacker Holiday Gift Guide
We’ll be the first to admit it: Finding the perfect holiday present for the cybersecurity lover in your life is not an easy task. They likely already own a Raspberry Pi, and gifting a Guy Fawkes mask is just a bit too cliché. If you’re searching for the present that will make them nerd out, smile in delight, or ask you where you found something so cool, this guide is a great starting point. We’ve gathered some of our favorite items, ranging from shirts and stickers to books, hardware, and more.
Despite popular belief, hackers don’t always wear black hoodies – sometimes we like t-shirts, too! Not to mention, after two years of virtual conferences, your hacker’s selection of shirts may be running low.
0Day Clothing offers a wide variety of shirt designs covering cryptography, networking, computing, and hacking. In addition to the clever designs, they offer customization, allowing you to order their designs on a whole range of products, including hats, sweatpants, and phone cases! Your giftee will likely want to own every design on the site, and this shirt’s creative depiction of SQL injection is a great place to start.
If you happen to know that your giftee is a penetration tester working on websites, it’s a fair guess that they spend a large part of their day using Burp Suite, a popular tool for testing web applications. This sweater from Beautiful Nerdy will keep them warm and give a subtle nod to their tool of choice (A).
In addition to selling apparel specially geared towards cybersecurity, Beautiful Nerdy has an entire Pioneering Women in Tech collection, featuring geniuses such as Ada Lovelace, Kathrine Johnson, Mary Allen Wilkes, and Gladys West. We love this shirt showcasing Mary Allen Wilkes, one of the programmers of the first personal computer.
Does your gift recipient have an ugly Christmas sweater party coming up, or do they really love the holiday season? This intentionally pattern-clashing sweater will be a sure delight (B). As a bonus, profits from this Esty store go to We Assume Breach, a group of cybersecurity professionals, students, and hobbyists who review cybersecurity certifications, conferences, products, and books.
If your hacker’s response to a compliment on their dress is “Thanks, it has pockets!”, this dress from Svaha is a perfect gift! Traveling through the history of computer technology, this dress is 100% cotton, beautiful, and has roomy pockets (as all of Svaha’s dresses do). This pattern is also available on a pair of leggings, which, true to Svaha’s style, also boasts great pockets.
In the case that your hacker has the same enthusiasm for sparkles as they do for pwning, surprise them with these Hack the Planet floppy disk earrings or Cyber hair pin, worn by the author in the image below (H & I).
Hardware and Tools
Buying technology for a cybersecurity lover can be practically impossible. Buying them a laptop without knowing the exact make and model they want is bound to end in disappointment, and they likely already own an Arduino. Check out our selections below for toys they’ll really want to play with.
Introduced on Kickstarter and released into the world almost a year ago, the Flipper Zero has taken the world by storm, showing up in social media posts and Vice articles (J). A completely open-source tool, the Flipper Zero lets hackers play with radio protocols, debug hardware, and explore access control systems. Although occasionally sold out, the Flipper Zero is restocked on a regular basis.
If your giftee is less interested in hacking RFID and more in containing RFID, implantable RFID and NFC chips might be for them. In the entirely realistic case that implants seem a bit odd of a gift, a sleek ring containing two programmable RFID chips is just as cool and involves much less pain.
While we all love toys, some situations call for professional tools. Look no further than Hak5, producer of some of the best penetration testing gear. Their specialized tools cover Wi-Fi hacking, covert tools to take advantage of an exposed USB or ethernet port, and even a complex hacking tool disguised as a simple USB cable. With so many options, a gift card might be the way to go.
Finally, if you’re searching for the perfect gift for someone new to the field or just a life-long learner, a subscription box focusing on cybersecurity, electronics, and hardware will expand their horizons every month (C). Past boxes have explored Wi-Fi technology, audio generation and processing, home automation, and more. In addition to the subscription service, HackerBox also offers a discovery bundle featuring popular projects from past boxes.
One of the easiest ways to spot a hacker in the wild is by a laptop covered in stickers traded between friends and collected from conferences. Any of these would look great on their devices.
These cyberpunk stickers from We Assume Breach are super rad and would add a nice edge to any surface they graced (E).
If a sheet with multiple stickers sounds appealing but you want something a bit cuter, we love this sticker sheet of adorable animal hackers, especially the clever little fox. The Esty shop behind this sheet carries tons of cybersecurity designs, including more sticker sheets, shirts, and posters.
Does your hacker love cats? If so, these ultra-adorable stickers from Short Shrift Goods, run by cybersecurity professional Corgi, are sure to elicit an “aww” upon opening (D).
Books are never a bad idea, whether as a gift, a travel companion, or simply plans for a rainy day. While there are some fantastic cybersecurity instructional books, there is nothing like the gripping prose of digital hunts and cybercrime.
The Cuckoo’s Egg by Cliff Stoll is one of the OG nonfiction cybersecurity thrillers, keeping readers on the edge of their seats as they join Stoll through his search for hackers hiding in his university’s computer systems.
Another favorite is Andy Greenberg’s Sandworm (G). A cybersecurity reporter for Wired, Greenberg travels the world to expose Russia’s 2014 NotPetya attack against Ukraine and explore how it is changing the future of war as we know it.
Interested in instructional or fiction books? Check out our blog post listing some of our favorite security books.
For the thrill of solving a true puzzle, this collection of riddles written in assembly poses a fun challenge. However, it will only appeal to those with assembly experience. If you’re unsure if it would be a good fit for your recipient, but they love to solve puzzles, why not get them a customized online puzzle (F)? Essentially a digital escape room for programmers and hackers, this puzzle only requires overall computer science knowledge and curiosity.
Our final gift recommendation is technically a book, just the type you write in instead of read. An interesting update to the classic notebook, Rocketbooks look and feel just like notebooks but allow users to upload their notes online for storage and transcription, and even reuse the notebook! Available in several formats, a Rocketbook notebook is the perfect gift for anyone who prefers to take their notes by hand but wants the availability of online notes.
We wish you Happy Holidays with your loved ones and advise you not to ask your family cybersecurity expert to fix your printer this season.
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