About the National Privacy Test
The National Privacy Test is an international survey designed to help people everywhere find out how much they know about online security and privacy. The survey consists of 22 questions on various cybersecurity-related topics, such as daily digital habits, privacy awareness, and cybersecurity threats.
Thousands of participants from 175 countries worldwide have participated in the survey this year. We’ve analyzed the 25 markets with the most responses — and the results show some fascinating differences between the countries.
Each country has a National Privacy Test score based on how well its participants performed. Our data analysts have also categorized participants into four cyber personas based on the number of correct answers.
Before we dig deeper into the findings, let’s clarify how we calculate the National Privacy Test (NPT) score and determine cyber personas.
How we calculate NPT scores
The NPT score is calculated using the averages of the three other scores: daily digital life, privacy awareness, and digital risk tolerance. Because the test has 22 questions, each question has a value of 4.5%. The more questions a respondent answers correctly in each category, the higher their NPT score.
What are cyber personas?
Cyber personas are participant groups representing different levels of cybersecurity knowledge and skills based on their National Privacy Test scores. Here are the personas and the corresponding NPT scores:
- Cyber Wanderer. Cyber Wanderers have the lowest NPT scores (1-24%) and don’t know enough about digital security and privacy to stay safe online.
- Cyber Tourist. Cyber Tourists have average NPT scores (25-49%) and know more than Cyber Wanderers — but not enough.
- Cyber Adventurer. Cyber Adventurers show a relatively good understanding and awareness of online security and privacy issues. Their NPT scores are between 50% and 74%.
- Cyber Star. Cyber Stars are the top-performing participants with excellent cybersecurity awareness, knowledge, and skills. Their NPT scores are between 75% and 100%.
What do the test results show?
Overall, American participants outperform most countries and know a lot about cybersecurity. They have the second-best NPT score and share second place on the podium with Germany. Let’s look at the results in more detail.
What are the key takeaways?
The National Privacy Test survey shows U.S. respondents know a great deal about online safety practices, achieving the second-highest digital risk score among all English-speaking countries. Here are the main insights:
- Most U.S. respondents know how to create strong passwords (95%), which is crucial in protecting accounts from cybercriminals.
- American respondents also know how to deal with suspicious streaming service offers. When asked what they’d do if they saw a streaming service subscription on eBay for less than its official price, 94% said they wouldn’t buy it because these accounts were probably acquired illegally.
- Most U.S. respondents understand it’s best to share as little as possible on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook (92%). Making information like your location or personal details visible to strangers poses many risks — and people in the States appear to know that. You never know who might use this information for malicious purposes — whether it’s cyberbullying or identity theft.
- Americans also are rightly cautious about saving their credit card information on their browsers. When asked whether they would save credit card information after making a purchase 88% said they wouldn’t.
- Though U.S. respondents score highly on most questions, only 3% of respondents know what online tools to use for digital privacy protection. Similarly, a small proportion (10%) know what data internet service providers collect as part of the metadata.
Cyber personas in the U.S.
The U.S. has the third-highest number of Cyber Stars — participants with the best cybersecurity and online privacy awareness. Nearly one in five Americans (18%) are Cyber Stars, while seven in 10 (71%) are Cyber Adventurers.
Only 1% of U.S. participants are Cyber Wanderers (the group that barely knows anything about cybersecurity), which aligns with the global result.
What are the major changes since 2021?
More Americans understand the importance of updating apps without delay. Sixty-six percent of U.S. participants update apps as soon as an update is available, compared to 59% in 2021. Similarly, more U.S. respondents this year know that reading the terms and conditions of apps is important (25%in 2021 vs. 36% in 2023).
However, U.S. respondents may be oversharing information with apps. When asked what information they share with apps via permissions, American respondents revealed they allow apps to access more data than necessary.
Accepting app permissions without much thought may lead to various security and privacy issues. While many apps request permissions for technical reasons, others may use them to collect and sell your data. It’s crucial to always be mindful of what you share with apps.
An overview of global results
Overall, the study reveals that global privacy and cybersecurity awareness is declining. This year’s total score was 61 points out of 100 (compared to 64 last year).
According to Marijus Briedis, the CTO of NordVPN, this decline isn’t surprising, considering the increasing complexity of online threats and the growing number of cybersecurity solutions.
“I think there are a few reasons why cybersecurity knowledge is declining globally. The first and most important one might be the sheer volume of online activities and digital interactions that people engage in daily. Our previous research showed that people globally spend more than 27 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,“ says Briedis.
The survey shows that people perform best in questions about online risks and how to avoid them (73%) and worst in online tools and safety practices (52%).
Globally, people know how to create strong passwords, with 95% answering this question correctly. Most people also know what sensitive data to avoid sharing on social media (90%) — and about the risks of saving credit card details on their browser (88%).
However, globally, only a small percentage (3%) of people know about the tools that protect your digital privacy, and only 11% know what data ISPs collect as part of the metadata.
Similarly, not enough people understand the importance of reading the terms of service for apps and online services (31%). However, the good news is that this metric is increasing faster than others (only 21% of respondents paid attention to terms and conditions in 2021).
Looking at the cyber personas, only 1% of all participants are Cyber Wanderers with very little cybersecurity knowledge. Fifteen percent of all respondents globally are Cyber Stars.
Interestingly, people aged 30 to 54 have the highest scores and are most likely to be Cyber Stars. The results suggest that younger people and those aged over 54 need to brush up on their cybersecurity skills and improve their online privacy habits.
Globally, the top-performing countries for cybersecurity and privacy awareness are:
- Poland and Singapore (NPT = 64)
- Germany and the United States (NPT = 63)
- The United Kingdom, Austria, and Portugal (NPT = 62)
View the National Privacy Test report for more global insights and country comparisons.
Want to take part in the National Privacy Test and see how many answers you can get right? Complete the survey on the official National Privacy Test website.
The National Privacy Test is an open-access survey anyone can complete. In 2023, the survey had 26,174 respondents from 175 countries. The National Privacy Test is not nationally representative (i.e., no quotas on age or gender were set). The report we’re referring to in the blog post uses data from the survey collected until 19 July 2023. Any differences between the report and the webpage results are due to participants taking the survey after 19 July.