Hackers can be notoriously difficult to buy gifts for, so we've curated a list of the top 20 most popular items Null Byte readers are buying during their ethical-hacking studies. Whether you're buying a gift for a friend or have been dying to share this list with someone shopping for you, we've got you covered with our 2017 selection of hacker holiday gifts — just in time for Christmas.
If you can't afford an expensive hacking laptop or a Wi-Fi Pineapple Tetra dual-band hacking device (or you know the person shopping for you can't), these are the best gifts under $50.
VPNs are damn useful, as they provide the privacy and anonymity that many security-conscious people expect. No one wants your service provider selling your browsing history, and companies like Private Internet Access (PIA) give you the ability to hide your traffic both from your ISP and from snoops over open or shared Wi-Fi networks.
Starting at $3.33 a month (for a yearly subscription), PIA includes a proxy server to hide your IP for application-specific tasks like torrenting Kali ISOs, and with a VPN server, you can combine with Tor with Whonix to make a fully anonymous Kali box.
- If the hacker in your life doesn't yet use a VPN, you can check out a Private Internet Access membership, which features anonymous ways of paying.
No one wants to break the bank on a computer to start hacking, but you don't need to. For a mere $25.99, you can get started with a Raspberry Pi Zero W kit, an ultra-tiny computer ready to run Kali Linux. Thanks to its integrated Cypress CyW43438 wireless chip, the Pi Zero W comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in. This kit also comes with all the accessories you need to get started.
- You can check out the Raspberry Pi Zero W Basic Starter Kit on Amazon.
If you're on a budget but want more power, you can grab a Raspberry Pi 3 board with a case and heatsink to get started quickly. This is the essential piece to building a Raspberry Pi hacking computer, and it only costs $39.99.
If you already have a keyboard, mouse, SD card, power adapter, HDMI cable, and screen handy, all you need to follow our guide to setting up a Hacking Raspberry Pi is a wireless network adapter and a computer to burn Kali to the SD card.
- You can find the Raspberry Pi 3 board on Amazon.
Speaking of wireless network adapters, Null Byte readers really like this sneaky little Panda adapter, having bought over 700 of them so far this year. If you're looking for a tiny, Kali-compatible network adapter, the Panda PAU05 is a perfect start and our readers top pick. It's a low-profile network adapter with a short range but great performance at only $13.99.
- You can find the PAU05 300Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter on Amazon.
Our editor's pick for Kali-compatible wireless network adapters is the Alfa AWUS036NHA USB Adapter, noted by its glossy black exterior. Connecting via USB cable, it offers the ability to use long cords to place the adapter in ideal locations and an easily swappable omnidirectional antenna to allow the use of directional antennas to boost signal strength.
At only $39.99, this powerful adapter is a good first adapter for serious Wi-Fi hackers and was used in our guide to building a software Wi-Fi jammer.
- You can find the Alfa AWUS036NHA Wireless B/G/N USB Adaptor on Amazon.
Software-defined radio (SDR) opens up a huge world of fascinating information opening up the radio waves to curious hackers. The RTL-SDR is a low-cost SDR with a heat sink that prevents signal drift when it gets hot, causing it to perform better for accuracy in our tests. We highly recommend this solid $25.95 SDR for beginners looking to explore the world of SDR through our guide on setting up a radio listening station.
- You can find the RTL-SDR Starter Kit on Amazon.
If you're teaching to code, the USB Rubber Ducky is the fastest way to show someone how simple it is to turn an idea into an executed action. Besides being an exciting attack vector for red teamers, security researchers, and IT people alike, the USB Rubber Ducky is an easy way to learn to write code and transform ideas into scripting. We love the $44.99 USB Rubber Ducky for its simplicity and versatility as a hacking, automation, and education tool.
If you grab one, you can check out our guides on writing and encoding Ducky Script, automating hacking functions on your Kali Raspberry Pi , and even try the Ducky Script we wrote to steal files from a macOS computer.
You can find the USB Rubber Ducky at Hak5's Hakshop.
Lockpicks and lockpicking are a part of hacker culture, and a quality pair of lockpicks will likely score you some serious points with the hackers in your life. How do you know what lockpick set might be best? For beginners or advanced lockpicking enthusiasts, Sparrows Tuxedo set hits all the right notes for the variety of picks included for a solid daily kit to make short work of any locks that dare to stand in its way.
- You can pick up their Tuxedo pick set for $39 at Sparrows Lock Picks.
If you can afford a little bit more than the $50 and under gifts, then these next-level hacking products will surely be appreciated by whoever gets them.
The LAN Turtle SD is a simple systems administration and penetration testing device that can be configured to deploy remote access, man-in-the-middle attacks, or network reconnaissance attacks when plugged into a network. Once deployed, the LAN Turtle SD is very difficult to detect and can cause a tremendous amount of mischief. Starting at $54.99, the LAN Turtle SD even has a graphical shell to manage remote access and access surveillance capabilities. There's also a cheaper LAN Turtle Classic and more expensive 3G model to choose from.
- You can find the LAN Turtle on the Hak5 Hakshop.
Most people don't know that Wi-Fi is basically line-of-sight and can be extended for over a mile, but the people at Simple WiFi sure do. If your hacker friend has a wireless network adapter that allows them to change antennas, we highly recommend this directional antenna that comes with tripod and cable. This will boost your signal for a very long distance in a narrow beam from where the panel is pointed, allowing you to achieve over a mile of range for only $53.34.
- You can find the Directional Wi-Fi Panel Antenna on Amazon.
If you really love your hacker friends, you won't make them run around buying accessories before they can get started, which is why we recommend this CanaKit 32 GB Raspberry Pi 3 board kit starting at $69.99. It has everything you need to get started with the Raspberry Pi 3, including a 32 GB microSD card.
- You can find the Canakit 32 GB Raspberry Pi 3 starter kit on Amazon.
For Wi-Fi hackers on a budget, the WiFi Pineapple NANO Basic provides powerful Wi-Fi auditing tools for just $99.99. The WiFi Pineapple NANO Basic features PineAP, an advanced suite of wireless penetration testing tools for reconnaissance, man-in-the-middle, tracking, logging, and reporting. There are also more expensive models to choose from, if you have the dough, and it can be set up on Android, too.
- You can find the WiFi Pineapple NANO Basic at the Hak5 Hakshop.
The Bash Bunny is a full-featured Linux computer, weaponized to impersonate flash drives, Ethernet adapters, serial devices, and keyboards. This is a nice step up from the USB Rubber Ducky. For $99.99, the Bash Bunny is an impressive device any hacker can find a use for, demonstrating how devastating a few seconds of physical access can be. By simply sliding a switch into position, a hacker can select which payload to deploy on the fly.
- You can find the Bash Bunny at the Hak5 Hakshop.
So now we're starting to get into the pricy range of hacking gifts. If you can afford it, these will be the top-of-the-line Christmas presents for the hacker in your life (even if it's you that's the hacker in question), just short of buying a hacking laptop.
If you know a Wi-Fi hacker, they've probably dreamed of owning a WiFi Pineapple Tetra. If they already have one, they probably dream of stacking more to create a Wi-Fi Cactus. The flagship of Hak5's Wi-Fi related products, the Tetra is a dual-band hacking tool with a web-interface that makes the penetration testing and auditing workflow a breeze. The Wi-Fi Pineapple Tetra starts at $199.99 and is definitely the go-to pick for serious penetration testers or beginners learning about Wi-Fi hacking.
- You can find the Wi-Fi Pineapple Tetra at the Hak5 Hakshop.
Bluetooth hacking is an evolving art, and anyone fascinated with Bluetooth will love the Ubertooth One. Transmitting and receiving in the 2.4 GHz Bluetooth range, the $127.95 Ubertooth One can also operate in monitor mode, monitoring Bluetooth traffic in real-time.
- You can find the Ubertooth One on Amazon.
The YARD Stick One may be called "yet another radio dongle," but it's far more exciting than that to anyone looking to get into hacking rolling car door codes, garage door codes, and any other signals under 1 GHz. Starting at $124, the YARD Stick is a great way to get into scanning and interacting with the signals that control devices in the RF spectrum.
- You can find the YARD Stick One on Amazon.
The HackRF One is a famous software-defined radio peripheral for anyone looking to really dive into hacking the RF world. Starting at $330, the ability to receive and transmit between 1 MHz to 6 GHz allow nearly any signals to be in reach of this legendary hacker device.
- You can find theHackRF One on Amazon.
As you could probably tell, the highest level on our shopping list for hackers includes nothing but laptops. If you want to invest in your first hacking laptop, we divided our favorite picks into the economy, best value, and premium categories.
Our pick for an economy solid beginner laptop is the Acer Aspire 5, with a 15.6-inch full HD screen, 8th generation Intel Core i5-8250U, GeForce MX150, 8 GB DDR4 Memory, and 256 GB of SSD storage. This one starts at $599.99, which is a decent price for a beginner.
- You can find the Acer Aspire 5 on Amazon.
For noticeably more power and performance, our pick for best value is the 13.3-inch ASUS ZenBook UX303UB. It features a QHD+ touchscreen, Intel Core i7, 12 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, and Discrete GPU Nvidia GT940M. It's a smart laptop with a lot of potential starting at $1,062.
- You can find the ASUS ZenBook UX303UB on Amazon.
Finally, our high-end pick for a hacking laptop is also a favorite of hardcore gamers who take their hardware seriously. The Alienware 17R4 laptop has a 17.3-inch FHD display, 7th generation Intel Core i7, 16 GB of RAM, a huge 1 TB 7,200 RPM SATA HDD, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with 6 GB GDDR5. Our top pick will set you back $1,580.
- You can find the Alienware AW17R4 on Amazon.
These ideas should get you started on picking a jaw-dropping gift for that special hacker this season, but if we missed any essentials, please leave them in the comments below so everyone else can benefit from your ideas.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, you can ask me here in the comments or on Twitter @The_Hoid.