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The best gifts for hackers

No matter their age, interests, or ability, these gifts will put a smile on any hacker's face this holiday season.

Holiday Gift Guide

ZDNet Recommends: Holiday Gift Guide 2020

Looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? Here's a great lineup of gift ideas and resources to get you started.

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While hackers are often associated with criminal acts and interest in hacking may not be encouraged -- especially at younger ages -- the difference between white hat and black hat activities is important to remember. 

 These days, with cyberattacks increasing in scope and complexity, we need professional, ethical hackers to help protect the day-to-day services we all use, and when it comes to younger people especially with an interest in this field, a gift or two to encourage their entry into this world could be a great idea this holiday season. 

Below, we have created a list of themed gifts relating to this profession, ranging from clothing to challenging pieces of kit, that the hacker in your life will enjoy, no matter their age or experience level.

The Hacker Playbook 3: Practical Guide To Penetration Testing

A must-have for new skills

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One of the best places to start if you're interested in cybersecurity is research, including the history of hacking, general threat landscape, and career options. For someone keen on the field, the Hacker Playbook 3: Practical Guide To Penetration Testing, authored by Peter Kim, is considered a must-read for those interested in new techniques and obtaining new skills.

$25 at Amazon

Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers

Another must-read

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Another book for every hacker's shelf that could make a great gift this year is Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers. Written by Andy Greenberg, the author explores cyberattacks that have posed a threat to national and global security. 

$13 at Amazon

Raspberry Pi 400

A hands-on gift to get started with programming

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A more practical gift over Christmas 2020 for the hacker in your life is the Raspberry Pi 400, one of the latest models of the tiny PC. Suitable for those starting out with programming, the budget-friendly device comes in a keyboard format and is equipped with 4GB RAM. A few cables, a monitor, and a mouse, and you're good to go.

$100 at Canakit

WiFi Pineapple Mark VII

For those interested in network security

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The WiFi Pineapple Mark VII is a serious piece of kit for the automation of Wi-Fi network auditing and analysis. Available as a budget-friendly starter product all the way up to enterprise readiness, the device also features a range of useful apps and remote access capabilities.

$99 at Hak5 Amazon

Hacker-themed clothing

Novelty wear

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For a fun gift this year for the hacker in your life, perhaps a trip over to Zero Day clothing is in order. The company offers a range of clothing for men and women plastered with cybersecurity-related slogans, cartoons, and quotes. 

View Now at Zero Day clothing

HackerBoxes

Subscription boxes to keep DIY enthusiasts and hackers busy

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HackerBoxes is an interesting idea and something that could not only keep hackers entertained over the coming months, but also provide a way to challenge themselves. A gift subscription offers projects, components, modules, tools and items ranging from PCBs, transmitters, and capacitors that change every month.

$44 at HackerBoxes

KerberosSDR

A gift for radio signal exploration

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KerberosSDR is a 4-tuner phase-coherent RTL-SDR software defined radio perfect for any hacker or enthusiast's toolkit. The radio kit, which uses custom software to operate, can be used for applications including radio direction finding, passive radar applications, and beam forming.

$249 at Othernet

HackRF One bundle

Kit for serious network, signal enthusiasts

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The HackRF One bundle is a software-defined radio which is described as "acting like a computer sound card." The gadget can interact with a range of radio signals including those transmitted by Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and mobile devices.

$319 at Amazon

Ubertooth One

A pocket platform for Bluetooth investigation

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Ubertooth One is a gadget that could be a great gift for hackers interested in Bluetooth technologies. Based on an open source 2.4 GHz wireless development platform, Ubertooth is an affordable Bluetooth monitor and communications sniffer built around an Arm Cortex-M3 microcontroller.

$150 at Amazon Hacker Warehouse

Hak5 Essentials Field Kit

An investment, and a gift

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The Hak5 Essentials kit would make a fantastic gift this Christmas. Although pricey, this kit should be considered an investment item that contains everything hackers need to get started. The Hak5 bundle includes a WiFi Pineapple, USB Rubber Ducky, Shark Jack, Packet Squirrel, and a variety of cables and other accessories.

$279 at Hak5

Sticker bundle

For novelty

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A small stocking filler or novelty gift -- with no serious meaning attached -- could simply be a cybersecurity and hacker-themed sticker bundle. More suitable for younger enthusiasts to plaster over their laptop, the bundle on Amazon is available for only $5.99.

$5 at Amazon

Need more gift ideas?

Check out our ZDNet Recommends directory or Holiday Gifts hub for some more inspiration. 

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