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Cybersecurity and Privacy Research Lab

The internet was meant to be open and free. Let’s make it so.

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What is cybersecurity research?

Cybersecurity research focuses on security threats, vulnerabilities, and risks related to IT systems, networks, and applications. Cybersecurity researchers aim to identify emerging threats and develop ways to prevent them.

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What’s the goal of NordVPN’s Cybersecurity Research Lab?

The Cybersecurity Research Lab is for educating users about cybersecurity and digital privacy. Our aim is to help internet users reclaim their digital rights, access to information, privacy, and personal data protection. We provide the tools for users globally to educate themselves on important cybersecurity-related topics.

Our expert researchers dig deep to understand current and emerging cybersecurity threats and privacy risks. The more we know about the threats we face, the more equipped we are to defend our privacy.

What does the Cybersecurity Research Lab do?


We share important information about cybersecurity and digital rights violations. Our aim is to show people the different ways their digital rights have been or might be breached.


Users can access an online hub where data is presented in a way that’s easy to understand and apply in the real world.


Understanding the problem is only a part of the solution. We give people the tools and knowledge they need to protect their digital rights.

Discover new cybersecurity and privacy insights

Dive deep into NordVPN’s analysis and research.

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Malware shakes up the payment card market

Payment card theft puts millions of users at risk. Researchers analyzed 600,000 payment card details stolen by malware and sold on the dark web. They looked at various data points, such as when the data theft incident occurred, what type of malware was used, and what other information was stolen alongside the payment card details.

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Everyday online threats in numbers

How many dangers are you exposed to every time you browse the internet? NordVPN’s anti-malware solution Threat Protection Pro protects users from malware, scams, malicious ads, and dangerous websites every day. Let’s take a look at the threats NordVPN users face every day.

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Misfortune cookie? Billions of stolen cookies expose your data

Cookies keep us logged in and ensure our shopping carts remain filled while we decide what to buy. But they can also lead to identity theft, financial loss, and phishing attacks. Researchers analyzed 54 billion cookies that are for sale on the dark web to find out how they were stolen, what information they contain, and how criminals can use it for other cyberattacks.

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Mobile privacy: What do your apps want to know?

Your Android and iOS apps need phone permissions to function — but how much data is too much? We reviewed over a hundred popular apps around the world to see just how much they really want (and need) to know about you.

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Healing or hacking? Examining the hidden cost of health apps

Health apps can help us achieve peace of mind and restore our physical health. But what role does health technology play in our digital well-being? We surveyed 12,726 users worldwide to examine the use of health management apps and the unnoticed trade-off happening in the background.

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Tip of the iceberg: 6M stolen cards analyzed

Thousands of stolen credit cards are bought and sold every day. To understand the risks posed by credit card theft, we analyzed a dataset of 6 million credit cards available on major dark web marketplaces — just the tip of the iceberg of credit card theft worldwide.

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Bot markets: How hackers sell your online identity

Digital bots are becoming increasingly common. They operate in fields such as customer service, search engine optimization, and entertainment. Yet not all bots may serve good intentions – many of them can be malicious.

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How hackers can earn 17.3M USD from your data

Experts have analyzed a dark web marketplace to reveal what it can tell us about online cybersecurity risks. Our case study in collaboration with independent third-party researchers’ work may help you stay safer online and off.

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How thieves get payment card data

Our analysis uses data provided by independent researchers to see just how widespread payment card data theft can be. Find out how thieves can get card details without ever even stealing them.

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Discovering what first-time hackers want to hack

Researchers looked into the most popular searches that include the word “hack” on Google. In total, they have analyzed almost 2M (1,983,741) searches from 50 countries, both in English and the local language. Seventy percent of them (1,387,020) included Meta’s social media platforms.

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Would you delete yourself from the internet?

Most internet users have some data on the internet that they wish they could delete. However, a new NordVPN study shows that many people don’t know how to limit their online exposure. So what does the data reveal? And how can people take back control of their digital lives?

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Fears over social media hacking are rising: how to keep your accounts safe

Worried your social media accounts might get hacked? You’re not alone. According to a new NordVPN study, most Americans fear falling victim to social media hacking. So, should you be losing sleep over being hacked?

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Amazon scams pose a major threat this Prime Day

This Prime Day, millions of Amazon users are at risk of being scammed. According to new data from NordVPN, most online consumers are unable to recognize Amazon fraud — which is great news for hackers and cybercriminals and bad news for everybody else.

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The brands we (shockingly) trust with our privacy

In 2021, we asked 1,022 people in the US over the age of 18 which apps, browsers, and tech brands they trusted the most as part of a nationwide survey on brand privacy. The results were depressingly predictable, proving the assumption that popularity means safety.

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85% of holidaymakers are worried they’ll get hacked

Cancelled flights? These holidaymakers are more worried they’ll get hacked abroad. Over 85% of people in the US are scared of using public Wi-Fi on holiday. With nearly half of us going on vacation this summer, hackers have fresh targets.

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Smartphone use on the toilet

Have you ever got to the bathroom, only to realize – in horror – that you don’t have your phone? You’re not the only one who needs distraction in the bathroom. Most of us take our phones with us when answering nature’s call, according to NordVPN research.

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How risky are NFTs?

The hype around NFTs is very real, as exhibited by the results of our survey. We found that 47% of US respondents had some knowledge or awareness of this technology, and around half of that group had actually bought, sold or invested in NFTs previously.

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Can you trust cryptocurrency?

NordVPN study has found 7 in 10 Americans would have concerns about the security of purchases made with cryptocurrency. They expressed unease about the prospect of cryptocurrencies becoming the standard for online purchases, along with a range of related worries.

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Would you join the metaverse?

Eighty-seven percent of people surveyed are concerned about how the metaverse could affect their privacy. They think it might be easy for hackers to impersonate others (50%), users’ identities won’t be legally protected (47%), and they will be forced to share even more of their private data, which can be later abused (45%).

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What would you delete from the internet?

Our research team asked people what they would erase from the internet if given a chance. From intimate messages to streaming platforms — people want to delete many things. Find out what they are.

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Who’s tracking you?

We surveyed 7800 people to find out how they feel about online tracking. Spoiler alert: 80% are worried about it. Find out what people from different countries think about online privacy risks.

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Are cookies a privacy risk?

You might know that your lifestyle can impact your cybersecurity. But have you ever thought how much? Six people shared their real browsing data with our researchers. They collected 3,958 cookies in just two days. Learn what that means to people’s cybersecurity and what you can do to minimize cookies in your daily browsing.

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IoT device security

We collected survey data of over 7,000 participants to figure out why only around 25% of people secure their IoT devices. Why didn’t users take precautions when introducing a new IoT device to their homes? Whose responsibility is it to secure these devices?

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Laws on encryption backdoors

Many democratic governments want to implement encryption backdoors. They claim that criminals hide behind encryption to protect themselves from persecution. While the need for effective law enforcement is understandable, there is no such thing as a secure backdoor. Instead, it’s a deliberate vulnerability that anyone can discover.

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Device sharing and privacy

What risks do you face when you allow others to use your devices? Do your family members monitor your actions online? How safe is your private data when you use a work laptop at home? Learn why your personal devices are not as personal as you may think.

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National Privacy Test

We launched the National Privacy Test to give internet users a chance to assess their cybersec knowledge and spot areas for improvement. In the test report, users can find country rankings by score as well as average scores in different categories and demographics.

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Parental monitoring apps

We analyzed the top 4 parental monitoring apps, their popularity trends, how they work, and what problems the increased usage of these apps might create.

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Wannabe hackers

Regular internet users have started looking for the best ways to hack something. We analyzed top Google search results to find which countries have the most wannabe hackers and what (or who) they targeted the most.

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Bypassing internet restrictions

What restricted content do internet users from different countries want to unblock the most? Government censorship, copyright laws, and local restrictions force people to look for a workaround – learn what online platforms they wanted to unblock most often.

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Cyber Risk Index

We collected and analyzed data from 50 countries to determine their vulnerability to cybercrime. We wanted to find out what factors put internet users at greater cyber risk and how likely people from different parts of the world are to become victims of cybercrime.

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What types of cybersecurity research do we do?

Our researchers focus on cybersecurity topics that affect NordVPN users the most, including:

Malware research

Analyzing and understanding the behavior of different types of malware (e.g., viruses, worms, trojans, and ransomware).

Threat intelligence research

Gathering data about potential cyber threats and attackers to understand their motivations, methods, and targets.

Human factors research

Studying the role of human behavior in cybersecurity (including training, awareness, and decision making).

What research methodologies do we use?

Our researchers use various methods to uncover new insights, such as:

Survey research

Collecting aggregated data from users to gain insights about attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions related to cybersecurity.

Case study research

Analyzing specific cyberattacks, data breaches, or security incidents to understand the causes, impact, and recovery strategies.

Qualitative research

Collecting and analyzing non-numerical data, such as interview transcripts, observations, and text analysis.

Quantitative research

Collecting and analyzing numerical data like metrics, statistics, and survey responses.

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Who’s behind the Cybersecurity Research Lab?

NordVPN’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Research Lab is a team of experienced professionals with research and data analysis expertise. From the initial plan to the final insights – our researchers take on real digital threats and look for the best ways to banish them once and for all.

Get in touch with us

Have a suggestion? Interested in learning more? Contact us.

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