Gifts Guide: Safeguarding Privacy

Published Categorized as Tips & Tricks
Cybersecurity Gifts on Black friday

In the whirlwind of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, amid the chaos of holiday shopping, the allure of discounts on Amazon Ring cameras and home assistants is undeniable.

Pause before you click to buy. Numerous articles, including our blog, shed light on products and services that may compromise user data. In Part One of this guide, we spotlight products enhancing user privacy and security.

High-tech gifts boosting privacy

  1. For gamers (if not owned yet): Nintendo Switch
    The perennial Christmas wishlist topper, Nintendo Switch, encrypts all data in transit and at rest. Its user-friendly privacy policy ensures no sharing of Switch data with third parties for commercial or marketing purposes. However, vigilance is required for games that might.An infrared camera used for specific games can track Joy-Con controllers’ locations within the limited range of the console, excluding GPS tracking. Notably, a data breach this year impacted 300,000 users without Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). Nintendo has now provided a guide to enable 2FA.
  2. For audiophiles: Sonos One SL
    Sonos maintains its status as the best privacy-minded speaker. The Sonos One SL, devoid of AI voice assistant functions, operates over Wi-Fi, encrypting device communications. With no built-in mic, eavesdropping concerns are alleviated.
  3. For the health-conscious: Withings Thermo
    With a focus on health and well-being, the Withings Thermo smart thermometer stands out. Syncing temperature readings over Wi-Fi, an optional app is available for download. While the app tracks location, permissions can be adjusted.
  4. For kids: Kano coding kits
    Introduce coding without compromising personal information. Kano coding kits, designed for ages 6 and up, aggregate and anonymize data for customer research and profiling. The Harry Potter kit, using machine learning for wand interactions, ensures privacy when the wand is set aside.
  5. For sound geeks: Sennheiser Momentum 3 Sennheiser
    Momentum 3 headphones require no sign-ups or personal information. With effective noise-cancelling, an app allows easy customization of the equalizer. While AI assistant functions are prevalent in wireless headphones, a manual activation option is preferable.

Low-tech gifts preserving privacy

  1. For the fashion-conscious: Face-obscuring accessories
    The Covid-19 pandemic brought face masks to the forefront. Explore anti-surveillance accessories like scarves, sunglasses, or face paint to challenge CCTV recognition.
  2. For device enthusiasts: Privacy accessories
    Webcam covers, headphone jack covers, and privacy screens make practical gifts, preventing hackers from recording audiovisual input. Small novelty stickers also serve this purpose.
  3. For cashless carriers: RFID-blocking wallets and cases
    Safeguard against RFID readers with wallets offering protection for cards, passports, and IDs. Popular and available in various styles, these items blend practicality with novelty.
  4. For the privacy zealots: Portable Faraday bag
    In a world saturated with data-sharing, a Faraday bag blocks all ways to transmit data. Various sizes are available, offering comprehensive shielding for signal-emitting devices.

Gifts to sidestep for privacy and security concerns

When shopping for gifts, beware of these red flags:

  1. Products owned by Big Tech companies
    Exercise caution with products linked to Big Tech giants, known for extensive data tracking. Oculus and Amazon products raise privacy concerns, emphasizing scrutiny of tech conglomerates’ privacy policies.
  2. Internet of Things with poor security
    IoT devices may harbor vulnerabilities. Ensure security for smart homes, especially if concerns involve online stalking or government surveillance.
  3. Services sharing personal data with third parties
    Steer clear of apps, services, or devices sharing personal data with third parties. Mental health apps and DNA testing kits pose privacy risks, demanding scrutiny before gifting.

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Despite the myriad of options, many smart devices still fall short in privacy. Consider exploring Mozilla’s Privacy Not Included list for guidance on products respecting user privacy.