2019 Gift Guide: Must-Have Phone Accessories for Privacy & Security

Must-Have Phone Accessories for Privacy & Security

In a time where we're more connected than ever, privacy and security have never been more important. Maybe you're not concerned, but I'm sure there's someone in your life who is, and shopping for them can be daunting. However, with these gifts, you can provide them the tools they need to enhance their protection.

Each gift below will either keep your information and whereabouts private or keep the recipient (and his or her family) safe. Some gifts even do both. We avoided the more extreme measures, as they largely depend on how far the recipient wants to go with their protection or are really expensive. Instead, we focused on smaller changes that use the phone in some way to keep you better protected or improve your ability to hide your real information.

Stocking Stuffers (Less Than $30)

Protect a Small Room Without Breaking the Bank

Wyze Cam is a small security camera that can be mounted nearly anywhere without the need for screws. It has many of the features of its much more expensive competitors, including 1080p video recording, live streaming, night vision, and two-way audio.

If you want to be extra thoughtful, we also recommend picking up a microSD card. A 32 GB microSD card will provide up to 76 hours (or three days) of HD recording, letting them set the camera to continuously record so they can review the entire day. At 32 GB, you can pick one up for under $10, such as the $8.28 SanDisk Ultra 32 GB.

Image by UrAvgConsumer/YouTube

Apps

Another inexpensive gift is an app subscription. Because of the sizable resources need to provide security and privacy, many apps require monthly (or yearly) subscriptions, which you can purchase for them.

If they are using an Android device, we recommend Norton 360 Standard. It provides antivirus protection and 10 GB of secure cloud backup for one smartphone. You pay for $7.99 per month for the subscription or pay for the first year for $39.99. And for $10 more a year, you can cover five smartphones or tablets and get 50 GB worth cloud storage for backup.

Beyond that, one thing that every active internet users should have is a password manager. These apps protect all your passwords behind a master password and allow you to generate a super-secure passwords you could never hope to remember for each of your online accounts. And with auto-fill on both iOS and Android, you can log in with one tap. Our testing showed the best manager is LastPass, whose premium service is only $3/month for individual or $4/month for families.

VPN services allow you to browse the web anonymously by connecting you first to a server which hides your IP address. ExpressVPN is one of the better VPN services available for smartphones that offers top tier protection while minimizing the drop in download speed. You can subscribe to ExpressVPN for $12.95 a month or $99.95 per year.

A burner number has many usages, including protecting your privacy. By having a second temporary number, you can sign up for services that require phone numbers using the burner number, which you can get rid of with the press of a button. Or, when using dating sites like Tinder, you can protect yourself from a stalker by giving them the temporary number. With Hushed, you can pay for seven days, thirty days, or even a 90-day number for a one time fee, all of which are less than $10.

Programmable Button

The Flic ($29.48 on Amazon) is a programmable button. Smaller than a quarter, this button can adhere to a surface or clip onto you for easy access. With this button, you can trigger events on your phone. For example, you can have a single click vibrate your phone when it is lost or a double click turn on the microphone and record a conversation. What makes it a great gift is that it can be configured to help with so many different security scenarios.

Gift Ideas ($30 to $100)

Improved 2FA

2FA, or two-factor authentication, is usually conducted using either SMS, email, or a software token. The problem is the first two options can be intercepted and aren't a great choice. And even though software tokens are better, the most secure option is a hardware-based key. Yubico's YubiKey 5Ci is the perfect tool for those looking to improve their security.

With the YubiKey 5Ci, for accounts that support hardware-based keys, you must now physically connect the key to the device attempting to access the account. Hackers will have a much harder time gaining access as they can no longer intercept a token transmitted through the web.

While Yubico has other hardware-based keys that will work, what's unique about the 5Ci is that it includes both USB Type-C and Lightning connectors, making it perfect for all mobile users. And for those who own multiple Apple products, it is perfect, as you have a Lightning port for your iPhone and USB Type C connector for your MacBook.

Images via Yubico

Doorbell Camera

In 2015, 11 million Americans had a package stolen. One of the best ways to protect your items is to install a doorbell camera. It records all actions in front of it, and can reveal the face of the person, dramatically increasing your chance of recovering your items.

At this price point, your best option is the Ring Doorbell from Amazon. While it is limited to 720p video, it still offers all the luxuries of more expensive options, including the ability to hardwire into your home, two-way audio, motion alerts (which can be adjusted), and much more. And if you have an Amazon Echo in your home, it works with Alexa for easier operation.

Image via Amazon

Hidden Cameras

If your goal is to find out people's hidden actions, you need a camera that is discrete. With spy cameras, the lens is hidden in everyday objects so that when you are not in the room, the people you are spying on act normal while you view them remotely.

These devices come in a host of different objects from alarm clocks to battery packs. However, the one we recommended is the TOQI Spy Camera ($49.99 on Amazon). It has a hidden camera in a USB power brick. You can view the stream live using an app or record for later with the addition of a microSD card. We recommend pairing it with the 128 GB Samsung EVO Select ($19.99 on Amazon) which allows you to store up to 15 days of 1080p video.

Image by Unbox Authority/YouTube

Find Lost Items

Tile is a device that helps you find lost items. By attaching it to your keys or other things, you can use the app to locate your item. With the Tile Pro, you can track up to 400 feet away. Using the app, you can track its location and set it to ring so that you can hear its location.

Image via Amazon

Splurges $100 & Up

Protect Against Package Thieves

As I mentioned previously, 11 million Americans had packages stolen after being delivered. Usually, this happens in the day when you are at work, so unless you have packages delivered to the office (or work from home), you are vulnerable.

One solution I found is BoxLock ($129.99 on Amazon). This padlock only unlocks after the mailperson scans the barcode of the item. If the package is supposed to be delivered today and to you, it will open the padlock. The app helps you set up deliveries and get alerts when packages are safely stored. You can also pair it with Step 2 Delivery Box ($239.99 on Amazon) which gives you both BoxLock and a large container to house the package.

Image by Get BoxLock/YouTube

A Nod to the Past

When it comes to security and privacy, few phones are better than the BlackBerry Key2. BlackBerry has been a company that always prided itself on consumer protection, and the Key2 is no different. It topped our list of the best phones for privacy and security two years in a row. And while the specs are getting a bit dated, it's still a fantastic smartphone for anyone who wants out-of-the-box protection without compromise.

As far as value, we recommend the BlackBerry Key2 LE. It makes only a few compromises but saves you $250.

Image by PhoneDog/YouTube

Smart Safe

Whether it's your electronics, firearms, or any other small items that you need to tuck away, a small safe can help by limiting access. But what makes iKeyp Pro Safe ($139.94 on Amazon) unique is that you can speed up the unlocking process by using your phone. With the corresponding app, you can use your phone to unlock the safe for fast and secure retrieval of your items.

Image by Liron Segev/YouTube

Nest Protect

For security from the elements, you can buy the Nest Protect ($119 on Amazon). This smoke and carbon monoxide alarm combo device will help you protect your home. What makes it smart is it it will alert you on your phone whenever there is a problem, so if you don't hear it, you will still be alerted. It will also tell you what room the smoke or carbon monoxide is detected. And when its batteries are low, it will let you know you need to change them.

Image by Danny Winget/YouTube

Premium Doorbell Camera

If you want to gift one of the best doorbell cameras on the market, you can spring for the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. It ups the resolution to 1080p and adds 5 GHz support. This means it will take less time to jump into live feeds whether you get an alert or someone rings the doorbell. And, unlike other versions, it requires hardwiring, which means you never have to recharge batteries.

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Cover image via Jon Knight/Gadget Hacks

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