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The study shows that the world’s online privacy and cybersecurity awareness is declining

The majority of Kiwis know how to create strong passwords.
People in New Zealand know nothing about online tools that protect digital privacy.
Around 15% of New Zealand’s population are Cyber Stars (very knowledgeable in the field).

Kiwis are 4th in the world in terms of cybersecurity and internet privacy knowledge, according to new research by the cybersecurity company NordVPN. They performed best in recognizing various online risks and how to avoid them (73%), and worst in questions related to practices and tools to stay safe online (49%).

The annual National Privacy Test (NPT) is a global survey aimed to evaluate people’s cybersecurity, online privacy awareness, and educate the general public about cyber threats and the importance of data and information security in the digital age. It gathered 26,174 responses from 175 countries this year.

“By engaging in the National Privacy Test, we aim to cultivate a community of privacy-conscious individuals who actively champion data protection. This initiative aligns with our vision to build a safer, more resilient digital landscape for now and future generations,” says Marijus Briedis, chief technology officer (CTO) at NordVPN.

Here are the countries in the top 3 spots with the best internet privacy and cybersecurity awareness:

Poland and Singapore (64/100)
Germany and the United States (63/100)
The United Kingdom, Austria, and Portugal (62/100)

However, results show that the world’s online privacy and cybersecurity awareness is declining every year.

“With the growing complexity of online threats, it is not that surprising that the world’s online privacy and cybersecurity awareness has been on the decline. Paradoxically, the more security solutions there are out there, the worse the results get every year. Raising awareness about the potential risks and educating users about best practices should be at the forefront of our efforts,” says Marijus Briedis, CTO at NordVPN.

Kiwis create strong passwords but fail with tools that protect digital privacy

Research shows that Kiwis are good at creating strong passwords (92%) and know how to deal with suspicious streaming service offers (95%). They also know what kind of sensitive data they should avoid sharing on social media (93%), or how devices get infected with malware (89%).

However, only 2% of Aussies are knowledgeable about online tools that protect digital privacy, and only 12% know what data ISPs collect as part of the metadata. It seems that the “Joan is Awful” episode from Netflix’s show Black Mirror didn’t have the intended effect — only a third of Kiwis know the importance of reading terms of service for apps and online services. On the other hand, this year, participants are more aware of the importance of reading terms of service. Only 19% saw it as important in 2021, with 34% reading them this year.

Among the New Zealand people, 1% of them are Cyber Wanderers (barely know anything about internet privacy and cybersecurity), while 15% scored 75-100 points and were identified as knowledgeable Cyber Stars.

How have New Zealand’s results changed since 2021?

Globally, more participants consider reading terms of service important this year. However, in New Zealand, this understanding increased significantly from 19% in 2021 to 34% in 2023.

However, compared to 2021, fewer participants are aware of Facebook’s ability to collect data on people who don’t have Facebook (64% in 2021 vs. 54% in 2023).

New Zealand participants know better than most countries how cybercriminals make fake URLs appear legitimate. They also know the digital security risks associated with working remotely. They had the best scores among English-speaking countries for this question.

However, New Zealand participants are not quick to update their apps. Delaying important updates poses several security risks and is not a good habit.

Australia performed similarly to New Zealand

Australian participants, along with Belgium, have the best knowledge about the types of data ISPs collect as part of the metadata. However Australia’s total NPT score is 61%, same as in New Zealand.

Compared to 2021, more people in Australia understand the importance of reading the terms of service (22% in 2021 vs. 30% in 2023).

Australian respondents also know better what to do if their data is exposed following a data breach. 46% answered correctly in 2021, with 54% getting it right this year.

Global internet privacy awareness is decreasing

The global NPT score hit 61% this year, which shows the decrease in the world’s online privacy and cybersecurity awareness, compared to 2022 (64%) and 2021 (66%).

Among the key global takeaways:

People aged 30-54 have the best cybersecurity skills, with most Cyber Stars in this age group.
Besides the IT sector, respondents from the finance and government industries got slightly higher NPT scores than others.
People still underestimate the importance of reading terms of service. However, this metric is improving faster than others.

“I think there are a few reasons why cybersecurity knowledge is declining globally. The first and the most important one might be the sheer volume of online activities and digital interactions that people engage in daily. Our previous research showed that people spend more than 27 years of their lifetime online. Secondly, as technology continues to advance, cybercriminals also adapt their tactics, making it challenging for the average user to keep up. Also, there is a common misconception that cybersecurity is solely the responsibility of service providers,“ says Briedis.

Online security and privacy can be improved

To commemorate the approaching International VPN day (August 19), Briedis from NordVPN provides a list of steps people should follow in order to increase the privacy and safety of their online presence:

  • Use strong and unique passwords. Create strong passwords for each of your online accounts and avoid using the same password across multiple platforms.
  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA). Implementing multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide additional verification, such as a one-time code sent to their phone, along with their password.
  • Update your software regularly. Keeping software, operating systems, and applications up to date is crucial for fixing known vulnerabilities. Regular updates ensure that security patches are applied promptly, reducing the risk of exploitation by cybercriminals.
  • Always use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts your internet connection and helps protect your personal information from prying eyes. It is especially crucial when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Review and adjust privacy settings on social media platforms, mobile apps, and other online services. Limiting access to personal data and choosing the minimum required permissions can help protect privacy.

Methodology: The National Privacy Test is an open-access survey, allowing anyone from around the world to take the test and compare their own results with the global ones. In 2023, 26,174 respondents from 175 countries answered 22 questions that evaluated their online privacy skills and knowledge. The 2023 data is analyzed as of 07/19/2023 and presented in the report. If there is a difference with the webpage results, it means more people participated since July 19 and the result has slightly changed.


NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider, used by millions of internet users worldwide. NordVPN provides double VPN encryption and Onion Over VPN and guarantees privacy with no tracking of users activities. One of the key features of the product is Threat Protection, which blocks malicious websites, malware during downloads, trackers, and ads. NordVPN is very user friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, and has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide. For more information: