“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, please put a penny in the old man’s hat,” sang Harry Belafonte in his classic festive song.
Of course, giving anyone a penny these days is more likely to get you a volley of abuse than festive good wishes. But, the joy of giving endures even if the gifts that we give may have evolved over time.
Ironically, while a penny may not be socially acceptable anymore, the over-commercialisation of Christmas has seen many people reverting back to giving simple, modern, useful presents rather than spending a fortune on the latest useless trinket.
Which brings us to the purpose of this article, but while giving the gift of online security may not seem like an obvious choice, it is actually one of the most practical, affordable, and useful things you can give.
In this article, we are going to give you a rundown of the top 6 online security to fill your loved-ones virtual stocking with this Christmas. Happy Holidays!
A password manager is rapidly becoming one of the most essential online tools for internet users of all ages and abilities. It solves two big problems we all have to contend with online.
Firstly, everyone has dozens of passwords for dozens of different accounts to remember. It is an onerous task, especially if you follow the advice of security experts and keep all of your passwords different, while also using random combinations of words, numbers, and symbols.
There is also the fact that password-protected accounts can be easy-picking for hackers if you don’t do this. It is amazing how many security breaches come as a result of people using simple, easy-to-guess passwords.
LastPass solves both of these problems. It will store all of your online passwords on an encrypted server which can be accessed with just one single password. It can also help you to generate secure passwords and its browser plugins mean it can even auto-fill websites with the right log-in details.
It is fast, secure, and easy to use; the perfect Christmas gift to help someone keep their online world organised and secure. There is a free version of LastPass available, but to benefit from all their features, you should look to buy their premium product, which costs just US$2 (£1.59) a month.
If a password manager is an increasingly important tool, a VPN is also pretty much essential for everyone who goes online.
In an age where hacking is rife, state surveillance is increasingly omni-present, and online restrictions growing, people need a tool to keep their online data private and secure.
A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is exactly that tool and ExpressVPN is currently the best VPN service around. It is one of easiest VPNs to use, with user-friendly apps available on all major devices.
Security-wise, ExpressVPN is as good as it gets, with 256-bit AES encryption, DNS/IPv6 leak protection, a kill switch, and split tunnelling all offered as standard.
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands and this offshore status also means that its privacy protections are watertight too, including a no user logs guarantee that has been independently verified.
VPNs can also be used to unblock content that is subject to either censorship or regional restrictions too. ExpressVPN’s network of more than 2,000 servers in 148 locations across the globe, means there isn’t much you can’t access with this VPN.
ExpressVPN isn’t the cheapest VPN on the market, with prices starting at around $8.32 (£6.60) per month for a one-year contract.
But the old adage that you get what you pay for definitely applies. And with a 30-day money-back guarantee available too, you can give their service a full trial run over the Festive period to make sure they are the right VPN for you.
Yubikey is one of the best online security tools that you probably have never heard of. It is basically a small keyring-sized device that you can use to support two-factor authentication.
If you are not already familiar with the term, two-factor authentication is an extra level of security when logging into accounts online. In order to confirm that you really are the account holder, after entering your password, the website or online service will also send you a further account confirmation.
This can take different forms, but for many sites, it involves sending a short code to a mobile device which you then have to access into the website to gain access to your account. This process can be slow and frustrating and puts many people off using two-factor authentication.
YubiKey is a tool which makes this process secure, fast, and easy. All you have to do is plug it into your computer or scan it with your mobile device, and two-factor authentication is done.
Every Yubikey can be used on hundreds of different sites and apps. It is already used by nine of the world’s top ten tech companies and they claim to have seen the number of user accounts being breached drop to pretty much zero.
YubiKey works well with LastPass password manager mentioned above allowing you to be extra secure in securing all your passwords.
It is an imaginative and affordable online software tool and a great gift for your security-conscious loved one this Christmas. And with prices starting from around US$45 (£35), it is an affordable one too.
4) InvizBox 2 / 2 Pro
VPNs are easy to use, but you do need to download their app onto your device first. This can be a problem if your device doesn’t support apps, which is an increasing problem in the age of the internet of things (IoT), which almost every device you buy is connected to the internet.
But there is an easy solution to this problem, which is to invest in a VPN-enabled router. These routers can be connected up to your chosen VPN service and then every device you connect to their wi-fi signal is protected by that VPN.
For some time, the best portable VPN router on the market has been the InvizBox Go and you can read our full review of that device here. But, now the Invizbox 2 is imminent and promises to take Wi-Fi routers to the next level for the home.
The new InvizBox 2 and InvizBox 2 Pro promises to address the biggest problem most users of VPN-enabled routers complain about; connection speeds. Many existing VPN-enabled routers can limit speeds to as little as 10-15 Mbps at best.
This is fine for browsing websites and reading email, but hopeful for what most people do online these days, streaming videos, online gaming, and so on. But the Invizbox 2 promises to raise these speeds to 100 Mbps and the Invizbox Pro is expected to take them as high as 400 Mbps.
Both devices are expected to hit the market soon and when they do, you will be able to pick up an InvizBox 2 Pro for as little as US$199 (around £155). Given that it also comes with a 12-month subscription to one of favourite VPNs, IPVanish, we reckon that represents terrific value for money.
Most PC users are aware of the need to have anti-virus, anti-malware, and similar online security tools installed on their device. But the fact is that these tools are important for all devices, regardless of what urban myths you have heard about the security of Apple products.
There are a lot of security software suites out there and it can be tough to choose the right one. But our recommendation is for Kaspersky.
That might surprise a few people given some of the negative headlines Kaspersky has endured over the past year or two. But in truth, there is little evidence to support many of the accusations thrown against them and their products and services among the very best available.
Kaspersky offers a range of security products, from a basic anti-virus tool (prices from £24.99 with a one-month free trial available) to a Total Internet Security suite (prices from £39.99). All offer great protection and provided you keep them regularly updated, they will go a long way to keeping all of your devices safe online.
Shop around at places like Amazon and you can find 10 device protection for as little as £25 for 12-months.
iCloak is a Linux-based operating system which is focused primarily on keeping you and your device secure online. Even if your computer is riddled with viruses and malware, iCloak can turn it into a safe and secure device.
It works by booting the iCloak operating system directly from a USB device. It overrides the devices existing operating system and runs as a clean system, regardless of what else is installed.
When using a device with iCloud, nothing you do online can be seen by any other software and there is no trace of anything you are doing left on the device unless you explicitly choose to save it there.
When you connect to the internet through iCloak, everything is automatically rerouted through the TOR network to help you stay secure and private online too.
iCloak Pro+ is available on a lifetime subscription for just US$149 (£120) which includes free updates and upgrades for life.
It’s great if you need to use an insecure computer in a location you have no control over.
This Christmas, don’t waste your money buying people a bottle of sherry that will sit in the cupboard for a year or a pair of socks they will never wear. Instead, treat them to something that they really benefit from.
Online security has never been more important and the tools you need to stay safe online have never offered better value for money.
In this article, we have profiled our pick of the top 6 online security tools you could give your loved one this Christmas. All of them have their merits and all offer very different, but equally essential security provisions.
Whichever you choose, you will be giving something very practical and worthwhile this Christmas.