Survey: Americans Are 2nd in the World in Terms of Cybersecurity Knowledge
Americans are 2nd in the world in terms of cybersecurity and internet privacy knowledge, according to new research by the cybersecurity company NordVPN. They performed best in recognizing various online risks and how to avoid them (76%), and worst in questions related to practices and tools to stay safe online (53%).
The annual National Privacy Test (NPT) is a global survey aimed to evaluate people’s cybersecurity, online privacy awareness, and educate the general public about cyber threats and the importance of data and information security in the digital age. It gathered 26,174 responses from 175 countries this year.
“By engaging in the National Privacy Test, we aim to cultivate a community of privacy-conscious individuals who actively champion data protection. This initiative aligns with our vision to build a safer, more resilient digital landscape for now and future generations,” said Marijus Briedis, chief technology officer (CTO) at NordVPN.
Here are the countries in the top three spots with the best internet privacy and cybersecurity awareness:
- Poland and Singapore (64/100)
- Germany and the United States (63/100)
- The United Kingdom, Austria, and Portugal (62/100)
However, results show that the world’s online privacy and cybersecurity awareness is declining every year.
“With the growing complexity of online threats, it is not that surprising that the world’s online privacy and cybersecurity awareness has been on the decline. Paradoxically, the more security solutions there are out there, the worse the results get every year. Raising awareness about the potential risks and educating users about best practices should be at the forefront of our efforts,” said Marijus Briedis, CTO at NordVPN.
Americans create strong passwords but fail with tools that protect digital privacy
Research shows that Americans are good at creating strong passwords (95%) and dealing with suspicious streaming service offers (96%). They also know what kind of sensitive data they should avoid sharing on social media (92%), or the risks associated with saving their credit card details on their browser (88%).
However, only 3% of Americans are knowledgeable about online tools that protect digital privacy, and only one out of 10 know what data ISPs collect as part of the metadata. It seems that the “Joan is Awful” episode from Netflix’s show Black Mirror didn’t have the intended effect—only a third of Americans know the importance of reading terms of service for apps and online services. On the other hand, compared to 2021, Americans are more aware of the importance of reading terms of service (25% in 2021 vs. 36% in 2023).
Among the American people, 1% of them are Cyber Wanderers (barely know anything about internet privacy and cybersecurity), while 18% scored 75-100 points and were identified as knowledgeable Cyber Stars.
How have Americans’ results changed since 2021?
Compared to 2021, more Americans understand the importance of updating apps promptly. While in 2021, 59% said they update an app as soon as an update is available, this year, it’s 66%. However, U.S. respondents may need to become more mindful of sharing their data with apps via permissions. According to the results, they share more than necessary.
Additionally, American participants (especially students) need to learn more about the digital privacy risks of working remotely.
Canadians have the second-highest daily digital life score
As for other Northern American countries, Canadian participants have the second-highest daily digital life score after Singapore and the best among participating English-speaking countries. However, Canada’s NPT score was 61%, compared to the US score of 63%
Canadian respondents know what to do after receiving an unexpected email from their bank notifying them about a withdrawal. Canada was among the top-scoring countries for this question.
However, Canadians may need to educate themselves about app permissions and the digital risks associated with remote work. They have the most incorrect answers to these questions among all countries.
Global internet privacy awareness is decreasing
The global NPT score hit 61% this year, which shows the decrease in the world’s online privacy and cybersecurity awareness, compared to 2022 (64%) and 2021 (66%).
Among the key global takeaways:
- People aged 30-54 have the best cybersecurity skills, with most Cyber Stars in this age group.
- Besides the IT sector, respondents from the finance and government industries got slightly higher NPT scores than others.
- People still underestimate the importance of reading terms of service. However, this metric is improving faster than others.
“I think there are a few reasons why cybersecurity knowledge is declining globally. The first and the most important one might be the sheer volume of online activities and digital interactions that people engage in daily. Our previous research showed that Americans spend more than 21 years of their lifetime online. Secondly, as technology continues to advance, cybercriminals also adapt their tactics, making it challenging for the average user to keep up. Also, there is a common misconception that cybersecurity is solely the responsibility of service providers,“ said Briedis.
Online security and privacy can be improved
To commemorate the approaching International VPN day (August 19), Briedis from NordVPN provides a list of steps people should follow in order to increase the privacy and safety of their online presence:
- Use strong and unique passwords. Create strong passwords for each of your online accounts and avoid using the same password across multiple platforms.
- Use multi-factor authentication (MFA). Implementing multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide additional verification, such as a one-time code sent to their phone, along with their password.
- Update your software regularly. Keeping software, operating systems, and applications up to date is crucial for fixing known vulnerabilities. Regular updates ensure that security patches are applied promptly, reducing the risk of exploitation by cybercriminals.
- Always use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts your internet connection and helps protect your personal information from prying eyes. It is especially crucial when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
- Review and adjust privacy settings on social media platforms, mobile apps, and other online services. Limiting access to personal data and choosing the minimum required permissions can help protect privacy.
Methodology: The National Privacy Test is an open-access survey, allowing anyone from around the world to take the test and compare their own results with the global ones. In 2023, 26,174 respondents from 175 countries answered 22 questions that evaluated their online privacy skills and knowledge. The 2023 data is analyzed as of 07/19/2023 and presented in the report. If there is a difference with the webpage results, it means more people participated since July 19 and the result has slightly changed.
NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider, used by millions of internet users worldwide. NordVPN provides double VPN encryption and Onion Over VPN and guarantees privacy with no tracking of users activities. One of the key features of the product is Threat Protection, which blocks malicious websites, malware during downloads, trackers, and ads. NordVPN is very user friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, and has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide.
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