An annual National Privacy Test shows that Germans are the most privacy-savvy of 197 nationalities surveyed, followed by Americans…

The survey by NordVPN assessed more than 24,000 consumers on their understanding of 10 different digital privacy and safety issues. Respondents were asked questions like how to create a secure password, what to do if they get an email notification that an unknown device has logged into one of their accounts, and what data they share with apps.

Germans got the top score, with 70% of them demonstrating a good level of awareness across the issues. Americans were second, with a score of 68%.

“This is the second year when we encourage people to take the National Privacy Test, evaluate their knowledge, and then learn more about privacy and safety on the internet. Sadly, cybersecurity habits are not improving, and it only shows how important it is to bring more awareness to the topic,” digital privacy expert at NordVPN Daniel Markuson comments.

Germany remains the most advanced country (70/100) on all accounts: they have great online privacy knowledge (73/100), absolutely rock the understanding of what not to tolerate when faced with online threats (87), and maintain healthy habits online (52).  The US was second (68/100). Americans have actually improved their score by one point compared to last year, but, although their privacy and risk knowledge has improved, their habits remain quite poor.

Americans scored well on five issues, with the percentages in brackets indicating the respondents who demonstrated a decent understanding of the issue.

  • What to do when an email from a bank informs that someone withdrew money from their account (97.3/100).
  • Which data to share with their apps via app permissions (91.29).
  • How their devices might get infected with malware (91.2/100).
  • How to deal with fishy Netflix or Spotify deals found on online shopping platforms (92.9/100).
  • How to create a strong password (89.3/100).

They were weaker on five other issues – though personally I would say that almost nobody reads terms and conditions, as they are usually ridiculously convoluted.

  • The security benefits of updating apps as soon as the update is available (62.8/100).
  • How to secure their home Wi-Fi network (54.5/100).
  • The importance of reading terms of service of apps and online services (39.9/100).
  • What tools to use to become more private online (43.7/100).
  • Privacy and security issues common in internet-enabled devices (63.8/100).

Non-tech-savvy consumers are of course at greatest risk, and we can all play our part in educating friends on some of the really key issues. For example:

  • Never open an attachment you aren’t expecting, even if it appears to be from someone you know
  • Never click a link from an email and then login – always use your own bookmark or type in a known URL
  • Never trust a call or email which claims to be from your bank – always contact them using the phone number you already have, or by using the online messaging facility when you have logged in from your own bookmark
  • Never trust an email claiming to provide new bank details for a company, even if it seems to refer to work they are doing for you – always call the company and speak to a known person to query it

NordVPN is a VPN service that keeps zero logs, and has annual independent audits to confirm this.

Photo: Glenn Carstens-Peters/Unsplash

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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