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The 12 best gifts for hackers in 2023

From hobbyist hackers and programmers to professionals, the tech enthusiast on your list will love our picks for tech gifts for hackers.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Amy Lieu
HackRF One | Exploring signals via Software-Defined Radio
HackRF One Bundle
HackRF One
Exploring signals via Software-Defined Radio
View now View at Hacker Warehouse
This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends by Nicole Perlroth | Learn about the digital arms race
This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race
This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends by Nicole Perlroth
Learn about the digital arms race
View now View at Amazon
Raspberry Pi 4 8GB starter kit | A gift for starting the programming journey
GeeekPi Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Starter Kit
Raspberry Pi 4 8GB starter kit
A gift for starting the programming journey
View now View at Amazon
ExpressVPN | Because every hacker wants to remain anonymous
Because every hacker wants to remain anonymous
View now View at ExpressVPN
The Art of Invisibility by Kevin Mitnick | A fascinating read on modern surveillance and security
The Art of Invisibility
The Art of Invisibility by Kevin Mitnick
A fascinating read on modern surveillance and security
View now View at Amazon
HackerBoxes monthly subscription | Gadgets arriving monthly
HackerBoxes Monthly Subscription
HackerBoxes monthly subscription
Gadgets arriving monthly
View now View at HackerBox
The Art of Attack: Attacker mindset for security professionals | Understanding attacks as a black hat
The Art of Attack: Attacker Mindset for Security Professionals
The Art of Attack: Attacker mindset for security professionals
Understanding attacks as a black hat
View now View at Amazon
Wi-Fi Pineapple & AC Tactical | Automated pen testing kit
Wi-Fi Pineapple & AC Tactical
Automated pen testing kit
View now View at Hak5
Show more (3 items)

While hackers are often associated with criminal acts, it's important to remember the difference between white hat and black hat activities. 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 we especially need to encourage younger people who are curious about this field.

Also: The best early Black Friday deals 

If you're looking for gifts that will appeal to someone interested in cybersecurity or programming, the hunt can be a challenge. We've rounded up our picks for the top gift options, including books for study or entertainment, high-tech kits, courses, and novelty items for your loved one to enjoy. 

  • Price: $350

One of our top picks for hacker-related gifts is the HackRF One bundle. Available at Hacker Warehouse, this Software-Defined Radio kit can handle signals between 1MHz and 6GHz and is an excellent option for exploring radio frequency systems and communication protocols -- the backbone of modern-day devices. 

  • Price: $19

This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends by Nicole Perlroth should be on the bookshelves of anyone interested in cybersecurity. 

Perlroth, a cybersecurity reporter, explores the role of the US in the digital arms race and includes tales of zero-day exploitation, hacker-for-hire mercenaries, and even how the country's own specialists were duped into working against them.

  • Price: $170 

While the range of potential cybersecurity career paths is vast and not every avenue requires a thorough knowledge of programming, a gift option you could consider focuses on teaching people how to code in a fun way. 

The Raspberry Pi is a single-board, Linux-based computer. There are general-purpose pins and components for learning everything from programming skills to creating home automation controls. When it comes to security, users could explore network scanning, ad blocking, container creation, and more.

The Raspberry Pi 4 8GB starter kit on Amazon comes with a Raspberry Pi device (1.5GHz quad-core CPU, 8GB RAM), case, fan, power switch, heat sinks, and more.

  • Price: $6.67/month

VPNs, or virtual private networks, play an integral role in cyber activities. Just ask any hacker. So while your recipient may or may not be subscribed to a membership, it doesn't hurt to cover a couple of months -- or years -- for them as a gift. 

ExpressVPN remains at the top of our best VPNs list and for good reason. It supports a generous number of platforms, including Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android, has server locations in 105 countries, and does not collect connection or activity logs. 

  • Price: $13

Kevin Mitnick authored The Art of Invisibility: The World's Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data, a classic book anyone interested in cybersecurity would appreciate. 

In fact, Mitnick was a convicted hacker who was once on the FBI's Most Wanted list before becoming an acclaimed security consultant and chief hacking officer of the security training company KnowBe4. He explores modern surveillance methods and how we can limit the impact on our privacy and security.

  • Price: $44

You could also check out HackerBoxes, a monthly subscription box full of interesting gadgets and tools for those interested in programming, DIY electronics, and hacking. Past boxes have included Capture the Flag projects, radio-over-internet kit, novelty items, and proximity detection gadgets. 

  • Price: $25

The Art of Attack: Attacker mindset for security professionals, authored by Maxie Reynolds, is an excellent read and would be a great gift to give. In order to defend against attacks, it helps to enter the mentality of an attacker and think like them. Offensive security professionals know this, and anyone interested in pen testing or defense can learn from experts already in the field. 

  • Price: $200

The Wi-Fi Pineapple, Mark VII, is a piece of kit designed for wireless security assessments and auditing. Among its features is a dashboard for active and passive monitoring, a rogue access point facility for conducting Man-in-the-Middle (MiTM) attacks, and report generation.

This device is available together with AC Tactical, containing 2.4 & 5GHz support via a Wi-Fi adapter, a carry case, a keychain, and skins. You can also select add-ons, including Kismet modules and extra antennas.  

Other gifts for hackers to consider

How did we choose these hacker gift ideas?

It can be a challenge to find specialist gifts -- whether the field you're interested in is cybersecurity or otherwise -- so we examined products that would appeal to the widest customer base available. Or, at the least, products that will keep the hackers in your life busy, learning, and out of mischief. 

However, not every gift has to have a hands-on educational purpose in mind, so we've also included interesting reads on the industry.

Is hacking illegal?

There is a misconception that all hacking is illegal. However, hacking is simply identifying weaknesses in services or a device -- whether it is a PC, smartphone, or another physical object -- and software, including apps, and attempting to exploit them.

This could include a computer network, old tech equipment, or a website's backend control system. 

Hacking, in itself, doesn't automatically mean unauthorized entry. There are companies out there that ask for ethical hackers to test their software for weaknesses and will reward them financially for their findings.

It is only when a hacker uses their skills for unauthorized and criminal purposes, theft, or destruction that it becomes illegal. This could include breaking into a network to deploy malware or stealing confidential information.

What types of ethical hackers are out there?

Ethical hackers are individuals who go into the cybersecurity field for 'white hat' purposes and to defend against cybercriminals. 

Job roles include penetration testers who try to find weaknesses in software and networks; bug bounty hunters who privately disclose vulnerabilities to companies; consultants, network defense experts, OSINT intelligence and investigation experts, and more. 

I want to learn about hacking but where do I start?

If you're interested in learning how to hack -- and stay within the realms of the law while you're doing so -- you can begin by checking out free resources including YouTube and Coursera. Alternatively, you can begin by earning a few certifications in the field.

Also: The 6 best ethical hacking certifications: Hone your skills

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