3 security gadgets I never leave home without

YubiKey 5C NFC

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

It only takes a second to get hacked or leak important data.

Delete an unencrypted flash drive (see an easy to use encrypted disk) or plug into the wrong outlet or click on a phishing link in a spam email and you could be in a world of trouble and not even know it.

Also: Flipper Zero: Geek toy or serious security tool?

While safety is important at home and in the office, it’s when you’re out and about that things can really get dangerous.

But fear not — here are three security devices that give you an edge over the hackers.

USB data blocker

What does a USB data blocker do?

It protects against unwanted data transfers from your devices while you charge them.

Why do you need it?

Hak5's O.MG Cable

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

How do you know you can trust that cable or charger you’re using? Hackers can use modified hardware to hack your devices and steal data or infect your device with malware.

Think you might spot malicious hardware? Think again!

Look at the white cable in this smaller image. Looks innocent, right? It is not! It is Hak5’s O.MG Cableand this can be used to attack smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop systems.

Your only chance to spot something like this is to use a malicious cable detector.

Malicious Cable Detector lights up with a cable plugged in

The O.MG Malicious Cable Detector says this cable is suspicious.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Instead of checking every cable you plug your devices into, plugging in a data blocker puts a safety air gap between you and malicious devices like the O.MG Cable. I highly recommend using a data blocker if you use chargers and cables when you are out to protect your devices.

You can get data blockers for USB-A, USB-A to USB-Cand USB-C.

USB security key

What does a USB security key do?

A USB security key is a device that allows websites and apps to verify that you are indeed you, and it forms an extra line of defense between hackers and your data. Think of it as a physical password that you plug into a device (or tap it, as some security keys also use NFC) to gain access. I recommend a YubiKey.

Also: What are Security Keys for Apple ID and why is it important?

Why do you need it?

It adds an extra line of defense to your online accounts. Even if hackers get access to your username and password, they will still need your USB security key to be able to compromise your account.

Your password might end up compromised, but your USB security key won’t.

A hardware-based encrypted USB flash drive

What does a hardware-based encrypted USB flash drive do?

This secures your data with advanced encryption, and since the encryption is hardware-based, you know for sure that all data stored on the drive is always encrypted.

Also: How to unlock the true power of the Flipper Zero hack tool

Why do you need it?

There are times when you need to move data around with you, and using a hardware-based encrypted USB flash drive means your data is completely protected at all times. This means that if you lose your USB drive, yes, you still lower the cost of the drive, but you can be sure that the data stored on the drive is locked forever.

If you’re ultra-paranoid, you can even set up a USB stick like the Apricot Aegis above to wipe the data after 10 wrong passcode attempts.


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