Not-So-Cyber-Savvy

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Americans rated 4th best in the world in terms of their level of cybersecurity skills and knowledge. The country scored 68.5 points out of 100 in the National Privacy Test according to New research by NordVPN.  The result is better than the global average by a slight margin of 3.3 points. Three (3) European countries performed better than Americans, with Germans (71.2/100) leading the way. (See Figure 1.)

Source: National Privacy Test by NordVPN

Figure 1. Source: National Privacy Test by NordVPN

Americans demonstrated a great knowledge of how to behave when facing direct threats online (87.3/100). 

  • For example, 92.9% of respondents understand that the bargains on streaming service accounts you can find on eBay might actually be stolen credentials and should not be bought. 
  • As many as 97.3% say they would not click on links and change their password if prompted by a phishing email claiming that their device got infected with malware. 

Americans are also well-informed about the basics of cybersecurity in theory (76.5/100), with 88,6% being aware that Internet-enabled devices are vulnerable due to lack of encryption, password protection, and discreet video and audio recording. However, 16% of Americans would still use the same or similar password on multiple online accounts, thus jeopardizing their online security.

The Habits That Fail Us

Despite being great at their privacy awareness, Americans admitted they are falling behind with their online habits (49.7/100). This does not make the country an exception, as the rest of the world has stumbled upon the same hurdle (47.1/100). 

Americans’ online habits could be described by one phrase: “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” Americans rush through their digital routines, and when prompted to update their software or read through a privacy policy, they postpone the task indefinitely.

A tenth (10.1%) of US residents do not manage app permissions and allow everything the app is asking for or are not even sure what they allow. A third (30.6%) would click “Accept” and proceed to using a service or app without “wasting” their time on reading the Terms and Conditions. 

Sadly, 31.0% of Americans postpone software updates, which makes their devices devoid of the latest fixes of bugs and vulnerabilities and thus leaves them susceptible to cybercrime.

Resources and Notes
1. “What is the National Privacy Test?” Visit https://nordvpn.com/national-privacy-test/.

2. 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. For more information, please visit https://nationalprivacytest.org/.

For more information, visit https://nordvpn.com/.

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About Author

Daniel Markuson is a digital privacy expert at NordVPN. For more information, visit https://nordvpn.com/.

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