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What is the National Privacy Test?

The National Privacy Test evaluates how people in different countries understand online security and privacy issues. The test scores internet users’ digital habits, digital privacy awareness, and digital risk tolerance.

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Top 5 insights into the National Privacy Test

Leaders, results, and cybersecurity trends — learn about them in this 2-minute video.


Methodology

NordVPN launched an open-access survey National Privacy Test in November, 2020. 48,063 respondents from 192 countries responded to 20 questions that evaluated their online privacy skills and knowledge. Drilling down to an individual country level, analysis was performed only on countries where the number of respondents was higher than 400.


People around the world

Results.

Digital habits

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Do not read the Terms of Service before clicking “Agree”

Respondents prefer to skip the walls of text, even though these agreements provide essential information about data security and privacy practices. Don’t skip and agree!

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Do not understand how privacy tools work

46.2% of respondents believe that incognito mode increases their online privacy. It doesn’t. Incognito mode leaves your internet activity visible to your ISP or the websites you visit.

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Carefully manage their app permissions

Before allowing an app to use their data, respondents judge whether the app actually needs it to function. If the access is not necessary, they deny the request.

Privacy awareness

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Do not grasp the dangers of Internet of Things devices

Internet of Things (IoT) devices are trailing behind other internet-enabled devices in terms of security. IoT devices can discreetly record audio and video, they are poorly encrypted, and there’s no standardized way to control them.

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Know how to set up a strong password

Strong passwords should include lowercase and uppercase letters, punctuation, numbers, and symbols. Whenever possible, they should be at least 14 characters long. Most importantly, every account should have a unique password.

Digital risk tolerance

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Do not know how to properly react to online blackmail

Even if someone claims they’ve infected your devices and provides your own password as proof, you should never respond to such emails or provide more information. Immediately change the compromised password, report the email as spam and, if necessary, contact the authorities.

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Know how to properly react to phishing emails sent by their “bank”

If you receive such a strange request from your bank about providing sensitive data or transferring your funds, contact your bank directly to make sure it is not a phishing attempt. Never dial the number provided in an email — trust only legitimate sources.

Download free PDF with in-depth country data

npt report

We’ve analyzed scores from 21 countries with the highest number of respondents

Find the detailed country-by-country data in the PDF below. You’ll download an in-depth analysis of the results from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, the USA.

Digital privacy outliers

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Germany performed the best

Of the 21 analyzed countries that participated in the National Privacy Test, Germany performed the best. The country leads in all aspects of digital privacy knowledge.

National Privacy Test score: 71.2/100.
Digital habits score: 53.2/100.
Digital privacy awareness score: 78/100.
Digital risk tolerance score: 90.2/100.

Japan needs to focus on digital privacy education

The country scored the lowest in 2 out of 3 aspects of digital life and got the worst overall score.

National Privacy Test score: 44.4/100.
Privacy awareness score: 45.3/100.
Digital risk tolerance score: 57.7/100.

Brazil knows where it needs to improve

It got the worst digital habits score out of the 21 analyzed countries.

Digital habits score: 33.4/100.

Profiles

Models based on common characteristics of respondents.

amy

Amy

Cybersecurity is her native language.

Age: 45-54

Occupation: IT

Marital status: single or in a domestic partnership, no children

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Should be more aware of:

  • What tools to use to become more private online (60/100).
  • How to secure their home Wi-Fi network (71.5/100).
  • Which types of data internet providers collect as part of metadata (81.8/100).
  • The importance of reading terms of service of apps and online services (84.7/100).
  • Privacy and security issues common in internet-enabled devices (86.7/100).
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Understands:

  • How to respond after a notification that an unknown device has tried to log into their email account (100/100).
  • What to do when an email from a bank informs that someone withdrew money from their account (100/100).
  • The dangers of saving their credit card details in their browser (99.6/100).
  • Which data to share with their apps via app permissions (99.6/100).
  • How their devices might get infected with malware (99.5/100).
zack

Zack

Cybersecurity is his native language.

Age: 30-54

Occupation: IT / the public sector

Marital status: domestic partnership, no children

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Should be more aware of:

  • What tools to use to become more private online (60.8/100).
  • The importance of reading terms of service of apps and online services (72.3).
  • Which types of data internet providers collect as part of metadata (78.8/100).
  • How to secure their home Wi-Fi network (88.4/100).
  • Privacy and security issues common in internet-enabled devices (89.2/100).
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Understands:

  • What to do when an email from a bank informs that someone withdrew money from their account (100/100).
  • How to respond after a notification that an unknown device has tried to log into their email account (99.9/100).
  • Which data to share with their apps via app permissions (99.8/100).
  • How to deal with fishy Netflix or Spotify deals found on online shopping platforms (99.8/100).
  • How their devices might get infected with malware (99.2/100).
joan

Joan

Cybersecurity is not her forte.

Age: 15-44

Occupation: education / manufacturing / construction / transportation / trade

Marital status: Married/domestic partnership or single, with children

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Should be more aware of:

  • What tools to use to become more private online (15.4/100).
  • How to identify a phishing website (25/100).
  • How to secure their home Wi-Fi network (25.8/100).
  • Privacy and security issues common in internet-enabled devices (25.9/100).
  • The ways to mask a fake URL and make it look legitimate (26.3/100).
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Understands:

  • How to create a strong password (60.6/100).
  • What to do when an email from a bank informs that someone withdrew money from their account (58/100).
  • The dangers of saving their credit card details in their browser (56.6/100).
  • How to respond after a notification that an unknown device has tried to log into their email account (52.9/100).
  • How their devices might get infected with malware (49/100).
michael

Michael

Cybersecurity is not his forte.

Age: up to 30 / more than 65

Occupation: education / manufacturing / construction / transportation / trade / leisure and hospitality / student / unemployed / retired

Marital status: separated / widowed / married or single, with children

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Should be more aware of:

  • The importance of reading terms of service of apps and online services (16/100).
  • Privacy and security issues common in internet-enabled devices (19.4/100).
  • What tools to use to become more private online (22.9/100).
  • The ways to mask a fake URL and make it look legitimate (23.9/100).
  • How to secure their home Wi-Fi network (24/100).
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Understands:

  • What to do when an email from a bank informs that someone withdrew money from their account (81.4/100).
  • How to create a strong password (74.4/100).
  • How to deal with fishy Netflix or Spotify deals found on online shopping platforms (69.1/100).
  • Which sensitive data to avoid sharing on social media (61.6/100).
  • The dangers of saving their credit card details in their browser (61.4/100).

Key findings

With age comes wisdom, at least when we’re talking about women. The National Privacy Test score among 15-44 years old women is 52.5/100. However, women of 45+ years old perform better (score: 57/100).
Men present an opposite case. Younger men (15-44 years old) score higher: 67.5/100. The older segment performs a bit worse (score: 66.3/100).
There are the most top performers among unmarried couples without kids: 15,7%.
In questions regarding social media, women demonstrated significantly less knowledge associated with privacy issues. They are more likely to share personal details than men. Men scored 72.5/100 in social media-related questions, while women scored 55.1/100.
There are the most worst performers among single parents with kids: 31.7%.
Inhabitants of North America and Europe are better at privacy than inhabitants of Africa or South America.

Industry Map

NPT score: more than 80NPT score: less than 50Net score
Government, public sector14.9%13.0%2%
Education9.4%23.9%-15%
Health services11.4%19.1%-8%
Manufacturing9.9%19.1%-9%
Construction8.2%22.9%-15%
Financial services12.5%14.0%-2%
Trade, transportation9.3%17.8%-9%
Student9.6%19.9%-10%
Leisure and hospitality7.8%21.9%-14%
Information technology23.8%5.2%19%
Media, press, communications, marketing10.8%13.4%-3%
Unemployed, retired7.9%17.6%-10%

Top 5 weak spots in cybersecurity education

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1. 34% of respondents proceed without paying any attention to the terms of service in apps and online services they use.

2. 49% of respondents believe that clearing browsing history makes them more private online (it certainly doesn’t).

3. 40% of respondents don’t know that Facebook can collect their personal data even if they don’t have a Facebook account.

4. 29% of respondents do not update their apps as soon as the update is available.

5. 15% of respondents have no problem sharing their personal details (name, email address) on Instagram or other social media platforms.

Media assets

National Privacy Test resources for journalists and media outlets.