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3 security gadgets I never leave home without

These gadgets give you a huge advantage over the hackers.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Kelsey Adams
YubiKey 5C NFC
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

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

Drop an unencrypted flash drive (here's an easy-to-use encrypted drive) 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: Geeky toy or serious security tool?

While security 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 gadgets that give you an advantage over the hackers out there.

Also: Five easy steps to keep your smartphone safe from hackers

USB data blocker

What does a USB data blocker do?

It protects against unwanted data transfers from your devices while you're charging them.

Why do you need it?

O.MG Cable by Hak5

O.MG Cable by Hak5

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 could spot malicious hardware? Think again!

Take a look at the white cable in this smaller picture. Looks innocent, doesn't it? It's not! It's an O.MG Cable by Hak5, and this can be used to attack smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop systems.

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

Malicious Cable Detector lighting up with a cable plugged in

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

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

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

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

USB security key

What does USB security key do?

A USB security key is a device that allows websites and apps to confirm 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 on it, as some security keys also make use of NFC) to gain access. I recommend a YubiKey.

Also: What is Security Keys for Apple ID and why does it matter?

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'd still need your USB security key to be able to compromise your account.

Your password might end up being compromised, but your USB security key will not.

Hardware-based encrypted USB flash drive

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

This secures your data using high-level encryption, and because the encryption is hardware-based, you know for sure that any data stored on the drive is always encrypted.

AlsoHow to unlock the Flipper Zero hacking tool's true power

Why do you need it?

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

If you're ultra-paranoid, you can even set a USB flash drive like the Apricorn Aegis above to wipe the data after 10 incorrect passcode attempts.

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