Today’s post will cover a couple quick gear recommendations that may enhance your secure and private digital lifestyle. As time goes on, I plan to include suggestions and reviews on software, apps, and fun things that I have used as part of my set up. In the past I reviewed Signal – Private Messenger, and today I will cover two small pieces of hardware that can be used to protect your data and privacy when used in combination with many of the best practices we discuss here.
Black Slider Webcam Cover
This inexpensive piece of gear covers your webcam when not in use and prevents webcam hackers from spying on you. It slides open when you need to use your webcam, and locks closed when you want the camera covered for privacy. The cover measures only 1.3mm thick, and will not interfere with closing your laptop and using your cell phone. It adheres with double sided 3M tape, can easily be removed if needed, but will stay on strong through wear and tear. This will cover most webcams on iPhones, iPads, laptops, PCs, MacBooks, and Android phones. Also, it does not interfere with webcam use or indicator light.
The likelihood that your webcam can be hacked may be relatively small, however the ability to invade someone’s privacy in this way is a very real possibility. The need to be aware of this type of attack on your privacy was popularized recently in the movie Snowden and has raised the awareness level of how easily this can be done. At the very least, using a webcam cover such as this enables you to practice good habits to prevent yourself from being compromised and also create conversation with others about this threat. The slider cover can be purchased from Amazon for $9.99 here. Another alternative is this Laptop Camera Cover Set from EFF which can be seen here.
PortaPow Fast Charge + Data Block USB Adaptor with SmartCharge Chip
Next up is a USB data blocking adapter which physically blocks ‘data transfer’ mode so there is no risk of data hacking / viruses when charging from an unknown USB socket. It is compatible with all iPhones / iPads, Android / Windows phones and tablets, and 1000s of other micro USB / USB-C devices. This will charge your device 4x faster than a standard computer USB socket, and will also block any data transfer between your phone and the computer or vehicle you are charging from.
If you want to charge your phone from any untrusted computer or vehicle (work, rental cars, etc.) using this adapter will ensure that no data is transferred during the charging process. The dangers of using an untrusted charging source can be see in this article, ‘What is your phone telling your rental car?’. I encourage you to read the article and be aware that any untrusted source you use to charge your phone could be a security risk for your device and the data it contains. The USB adapter costs less than $10 at Amazon at this link .