Being connected is normally considered to be a good thing, but that's not always the case. Sometimes even those who love tech want to step away from it for a second, or at least keep it in check. If you know someone who values privacy or worries about the security of their data, there are gadgets and programs to help with that, too. Try these tech gifts to help offer a little security and peace of mind in a seemingly insecure world.
Silent Pocket: The world is full of signals these days, with the prevalence of WiFi, Bluetooth, RFID and other technologies that help us connect wirelessly. But sometimes you don’t want your device bombarded with radio waves — particularly if you’re looking to protect sensitive information on your device. That’s where Silent Pocket’s device sleeves come in. The cases can be a defense against high-tech pickpockets who can use a number of different technologies to pilfer information from your laptop or smartphone. They can also be a good defense against the less sinister but more common thief: distraction. If you need to sit and think or work in an analog way for a while, this is like putting your devices into a timeout corner. These sleeves will block all signals, including cellular and GPS, around your device — meaning that you won't hear notifications go off, for example, and you can gain yourself peace of mind.
VPN subscription: Paranoid about what’s lurking out there on the Internet? If you or your loved ones want to practice good surfing hygiene, there’s no better place to start than with a VPN. Shorthand for “virtual private network,” a VPN is an essential tool for the privacy-conscious Web user that protects your Web traffic from being intercepted. There are free options out there, but if you’re looking for a security blanket of a gift that will give you a few more features and reliable service, consider a subscription option. TunnelBear is a VPN service that's good for first-time users who may be intimidated by other services, with a cute and accessible design, and has had its claims verified by an independent security review. You can connect up to five devices simultaneously. There are a few plans to pick from; a plan to protect unlimited data will cost $49.88 per year.
Price: $49.88 per year
F-Secure Sense: Those jumping into the smart home trend — or even just concerned about intruders on your home network — may want to consider upgrading the least sexy gadget of them all: the router. F-Secure Sense is one of a handful of routers that are specifically designed to protect your home against hackers who have gotten adept at hacking into smart toasters, fridges and other smart appliances as part of broader attacks. Even if your home isn’t being targeted with an attack, hackers can still use your devices to attack others — which can slow down your network and, of course, runs the risk of compromising your privacy. The F-Secure Sense requires a $9.90 monthly subscription for security services after the first year. Like other smart routers, it pairs with an app on your phone to let you manage your network and be notified of any potential problems. It also works as a perfectly good router, if you decide the extra security doesn’t fit your needs.
Price: $199, plus a $9.90 monthly subscription after the first year.
Note: A previous version of this article suggested another VPN service, HotSpot Shield. That company has been faced with an Federal Trade Commission complaint questioning its practices. While there's been no proof of wrongdoing, due to the complaint, we are suggesting another service for our readers.