by Paul Mah

9 essential tools for the security-conscious mobile worker

Apr 27, 2017
Chrome OSConsumer ElectronicsLaptops

From a webcam cover and laptop lock to a USB port blocker and an encrypted flash drive, we've found some security- and privacy-centered gadgets you will want to keep handy.

security tools intro slide
Credit: Kensington, Anonabox, Yubikey

Have security gadgets, will travel

The highly digitized and hyper-connected world that we live in today has heightened the security stakes for us all. But if work frequently takes you away from the home office, you have some particular security and privacy concerns.

How can the security-conscious mobile worker guard against the constant onslaught of threats? We look at a variety of tools, from webcam covers to encrypted flash drives, that can be deployed to ratchet up the bar on security.

Webcam covers from Soomz

Soomz webcam cover

Image by Soomz

Covering up your webcam is probably the most elementary of measures —even Mark Zuckerberg is known to tape-over the webcam on his laptop. But unlike Zuckerberg’s DIY solution, these webcam covers from Soomz (for “stay out of my zoo”) won’t leave a sticky mess behind.

The webcam covers are also well-suited for busy executives who do a lot of video calls and want a simple, foolproof way to make sure they are not inadvertently broadcasting to a remote audience. The Soomz webcam covers are available in a range of colors and designs.

Cost: $10.90 for a set of three [Find it on Amazon]

Kensington MicroSaver retractable laptop lock

Kensington microsaver

Image by Kensington

It is one thing to extol the importance of locking up your laptop, and quite another to lug an unwieldy laptop lock along on trips. Enter the Kensington MicroSaver retractable laptop lock, which comes with built-in cable management to take up less space in your travel bag. The lock works with the Kensington Security Slot lock found in most laptops, and its cut-resistant steel cable retracts into a compact holder when not in use.

Cost: $39.99 [Find it on Amazon]

Lindy USB Port Blocker

Lindy usb port blocker

Image by Lindy USA

The Lindy USB Port Blocker is a neat device that blocks access to a computer’s USB by fitting flush in the port. Blockers are installed into USB ports with a matching key, and cannot be easily removed without it. While it won’t stop a determined hacker, it serves as another barrier against casual data theft or attempts to load malware onto your PC.

Lindy USA also makes USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 3.0 port blockers that you can use on the latest MacBook Pro or your USB Type-C equipped smartphones.

Cost: $22.95 for a pack of 4 [Find it on Amazon]

Anonabox Pro

Anonabox pro router

Image by Anonabox

The Anonabox Pro is a network router with dedicated support for The Onion Router (Tor) built into a dedicated, portable appliance. Set up the Anonabox in a hotel room by plugging it into a LAN port or configure it as a Wi-Fi range extender. Connect your laptop or smartphone via Wi-Fi to the Anonabox for anonymous, secure internet use.

Those who are less concerned about anonymity and more concerned with performance can turn to the Anonabox’s built-in support for commercial VPN offerings, such as VyprVPN. Paranoid users can use both Tor and VPN together.

Anonabox tells us that the renewed media attention on internet privacy has translated into strong sales.

(You may also want to check out our top 5 VPN services for personal privacy and security.)

Cost: $119.99 [Find it on Amazon]

Yubikey Neo

Yubikey neo usb dongle

Image by Yubikey

The Yubikey Neo is a USB dongle for securing access to a wide range of applications, including remote access software, password managers, or to log onto your PC. In addition, many popular cloud services, such as Gmail and Dropbox, will also work with the Yubikey for two-factor authentication.

But what if you have already blocked off your USB ports with the Lindy USB port blocker? That’s where the nifty NFC capability of the Yubikey Neo comes in — you can authenticate wirelessly with an NFC-equipped laptop or Android smartphone.

Cost: $50 [Find it on Amazon]

Logitech 4K Pro Webcam

Logitech 4k pro webcam

Image by Logitech

The Logitech 4K Pro Webcam is more than just a top-notch webcam for conference calls on the move (and helping you look good). Under the hood, the Logitech 4K Pro Webcam packs advanced infrared detection capabilities and compatibility with Windows Hello to securely authenticate and log users within seconds — without the need to lift a finger. Making it easy to login reduces the friction of logging off or locking one’s PC, improving overall security.

Cost: $199 [Find it on Amazon]

GateKeeper 2.0

GateKeeper 2.0

Image by GateKeeper

The GateKeeper is a security token that automatically locks your computer when you walk away and unlock it when you return. A transceiver “Lock” plugs into a USB port, while the GateKeeper “Key”can be added to a keychain or taped to an access badge. The GateKeeper can be paired with the Logitech 4K Pro Webcam by configuring it not to unlock automatically, relying instead on the latter’s face recognition capability to authenticate for heightened security.

Cost: $49.99 [Find it on Amazon]

Kingston DataTraveler 2000

Kingston data traveler 2000

Image by Kingston

The Kingston DataTraveler 2000 is an enterprise-level flash drive designed specifically for securely storing data. The DataTraveler 2000 relies on hardware-based AES 256-bit full-disk encryption that is operating system independent, and comes with a built-in alphanumeric keypad for unlocking the drive. It automatically locks when removed from a PC, and the encryption key is erased after 10 failed attempts to log in to render the encrypted contents unrecoverable. The DataTraveler 2000 supports USB 3.1, and is also highly resistant to dust and immersion in water.

Cost: No official MSRP found [Find it on Amazon]

HP Chromebook 13

HP Chromebook

Image by HP

Based on the adage that you can’t lose what you don’t possess, the HP Chromebook 13 lets you work without having to store your precious files on a theft-susceptible portable device. This Chrome OS-based device comes with a high-definition display at 3200 x 1800 pixels for razor-sharp text and images, and offers up to 11 hours of wireless productivity. If you prefer not to adapt your workflow around Google’s operating system, an alternative may be to use the Chromebook as a thin client for a VDI solution such as Parallels Remote Applications Server.

Cost: Starting at $509 [Find it on Amazon]