The best gifts for hackers in 2019

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

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What do you get a hacker or IT pro for Christmas? In an industry that is not often well-understood by those outside of it, trying to come up with ideas and presents that will prove themselves valuable and appreciated can be difficult. 

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However, it's far from impossible. You can choose to go down the route of valuable tools, educational starter kits, or novelty items such as t-shirts and mugs -- and any of them will likely put a smile on the face of a hacker this Christmas.

Below, ZDNet has rounded up some of the most interesting gifts for hackers over Christmas 2019 to suit a range of budgets and abilities.

The best Christmas gifts for hackers

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn a commission from some of the products featured on this page.

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Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker for $14

Written by famous hacker Kevin Mitnick, Ghost in the Wires is an exploration of his foray into social engineering, his exploits concerning the FBI, betrayals, and the lessons modern-day companies should learn in relation to IT and security. 

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WiFi Pineapple for $200 

The WiFi Pineapple is a popular rogue access point and Wi-Fi pentest toolkit that can be used to monitor and seek out devices that are misconfigured or vulnerable to attack. It is possible to use the Pineapple to perform Man-in-The-Middle (MiTM) attacks, to harvest credentials -- including WPA credentials in cap, hashcat, JTR, and plaintext formats -- as well as to passively monitor networking activity around the user. A smaller, pocket-sized option is also available. 

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TV-B-Gone for $20

The TV-B-Gone is not a serious hacking tool but still could provide a mischievous user with entertainment. Once assembled and soldered, the gadget can be used to prank others by turning off television sets through two narrow-beam IR LEDs and two wide-beam IR LEDs. TVs susceptible include those made by Acer, Fujitsu, Toshiba, and Sony, among many others. 

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Hacker gift puzzle (price varies)

An interesting concept for a Christmas gift this year is a hacker puzzle. You specify the name of the recipient and the message you want to send, and the team over at Hacker.gifts creates a set of programming puzzles -- one leading to the next -- until this content is revealed. The puzzle is sent as a digital file that can be forwarded directly or printed. 

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Circuit Playground Express for $25

The Circuit Playground Express could be a great gift for someone you know that is just starting their hacking journey. The circuit board can be used for JavaScript, CircuitPython, and Arduino programming, among other languages, and various features -- including LED lights, temperature sensors, pushbuttons, and a mini-speaker are included to test out a user's skill as they progress. 

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Novelty clothing (price varies)

Suitable for stocking fillers, Secret Santas, and budget-friendly gifts, you can pick up a range of IT and cybersecurity-themed t-shirts and hoodies for men, women, and kids at Zero Day Clothing. 

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Essentials field kit for $210

A serious gift for the hacker in your life this Christmas, and something which should be considered an investment, is the Hak5 Essentials field kit. Containing the Hak5 WiFi Pineapple NANO -- the portable version of the larger Pineapple -- USB Rubber Ducky, a USB dongle for keystroke injections, LAN Turtle SD, a systems admin, and penetration testing tool, guides, and all the adapters and cables necessary to operate the devices, this will certainly keep users happy and busy for a while.

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Ladyada's electronics toolkit for $100

An option for hackers more electronically-inclined, the Ladyada electronics toolkit is all you need to learn about electronics and soldering. The kit contains a variety of items and equipment including -- but not limited to -- a soldering iron, stand, solder, wicks and braids, pliers, and cutters.

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CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 starter kit for $75

The Raspberry Pi starter kit, developed by CanaKit, is a great educational gift for this Christmas. The starter kit contains a Raspberry Pi 3 (RPi3) with a 1.2 GHz processor and 1GB RAM, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, a 32GB MicroSD card pre-installed with the NOOBS operating system, heat sinks, an HDMI cable, power supply, and case. 

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Stocking filler stickers for $10

A budget-friendly stocking filler option is this collection of stickers with computer science and hacking themes. The pack contains 72 pieces. 

More stocking filler ideas for your favorite hacker