Do you sometimes struggle to find the perfect gift for a friend or family member? Maybe Dad doesn’t need another tie, or your significant other is a power shopper who already has everything. So consider giving a little peace of mind, which is something everyone can use. Here are five great ideas for useful and secure gifts.
- Portable Secure Data Storage:
USB flash drives (also known as “thumb” drives) are portable and convenient for storing or backing up data, but they’re easily misplaced and typically not secure. Encrypted flash drives keep data safe even if the drive falls into the wrong hands. Highly secure flash drives start at $99 for an 8GB drive, but what is the value of data security?
- Locking Mailbox:
Yes, many of us shop and pay bills online, but we still get a lot of very important information via “snail-mail” (the U.S. Postal Service): tax forms, medical benefit statements, contracts, bills, financial statements, and more. If you have a non-locking mailbox, your mail is just sitting there waiting to be stolen. A locking mailbox is a low-tech but effective solution. Prices range from $60 to several hundred dollars.
- Cross-cut Shredders:
Recycling helps the environment, but before you do so it’s important to thoroughly shred documents containing your social security number (even the last four digits), your birth date, credit card numbers, account information from banks or brokerages, or medical insurance numbers. The cheapest shredders cut papers into long strips that could be reassembled by a determined thief. A better choice for home and small office use is the cross-cut (or confetti) shredder, which cuts paper into smaller confetti-like pieces. Prices for cross-cut shredders range from $75 to $200.
- Fire-resistant Safes:
There are no fire-proof consumer safes on the market today. They are all fire-resistant, meaning that they resist heat, smoke, and sometimes water for 30 to 150 minutes. Safes are rated on the length of time they can keep their interior temperature below 350°F (the ignition temperature of paper and the melting point of DVDs, flash devices, tapes, photos, and computer components). If your loved one has special papers or media they need to protect against fire, consider a data/media safe which keeps the inside temperature below 135°F. An inexpensive alternative is to purchase a small U.L.-rated fire lock-box for your data/media that you then place inside a larger safe.
- Encryption Software:
Give the gift of secure file storage and transmission. All MacOS computers can be encrypted using the built-in Disk Utility (for individual files) or FileVault (for entire disks). Windows computers may be encrypted using tools including Folder Lock ($40), CertainSafe Digital Safety Deposit Box ($9), or AxCrypt Premium ($4).
Finally, give the gift of your time and expertise. If you give a gift to someone who is not as tech- or security-savvy as you, make sure to include appropriate set-up and training. Your recipient will thank you for your thoughtfulness!