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Cybersecurity and Privacy Research Lab

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

NordVPN cybersecurity and privacy research lab

Our goal

A group of people promoting freedom of internet

At NordVPN’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Research Lab, we aim to move the world closer to Tim Berners Lee’s vision of an open and free internet. To empower internet users to fight for their digital rights, access to information, privacy, and protection of their personal data. To make our expertise their best ally in this fight.

That’s why we put together a team of professional researchers. They analyze online threats and privacy risks to learn about problems, understand them, and find the right tools and methods to eliminate them.

What we do

Educate

We draw attention to cybersecurity and digital rights violations. Our aim is to show people the different ways their digital rights are or might be violated.

Share

We created an open-access online hub where data is presented in a way that’s easy to understand and apply in the real world.

Protect

Understanding the problem is only a part of the solution. Then it’s time to act. We give people the tools and knowledge they need to protect their digital rights.

Our research

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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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Most of us spend nearly a third of our lives looking at devices

NordVPN began surveying citizens of different countries to learn about people’s digital habits. We’ll continue to update the numbers as more results come in. Here’s what we’ve found out so far.

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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.

Read about us

wired
the huffington post
buzz feed
forbes
tedx
bbc

Ongoing projects

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We are constantly looking for new angles and important issues that need more in-depth analysis. Our researchers currently focus on cybersecurity topics that affect NordVPN users the most:

  • Web privacy
  • Cyber risks in business
  • Security of smart devices
  • Privacy and security technology
  • Users’ attitudes and behaviors

Our researchers

NordVPN Research Lab team

NordVPN’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Research Lab is a team of five professionals with many years of experience in research and data analysis. They are experts in their field, working daily to deliver results worth sharing with the world. From the initial plan to final insights – our researchers take on real digital threats and look for the best ways to banish them once and for all.