South Africa was ranked sixteenth out of 21 countries in terms of national privacy and cybersecurity awareness and practices and local participants in virtual private network service company NordVPN's National Privacy Test achieved good scores in their awareness of and responses to online threats and phishing.
However, South Africans' reaction to potential hacks was below the global average, while they also achieved poor scores in terms of protecting their information on social media.
The research shows that South Africans scored 78.6 out of 100 points, 5.6 points lower than the global average, in terms of knowing how to react to online threats and phishing attacks. They also scored 36 points for their digital habits, 2.1 points below the global average, and 60.3 on their theoretical knowledge of cybersecurity, which is 11.9 points below the global level.
The country achieved a National Privacy Score of 55.3 points out of 100, which is 9.9 points lower than the global average.
In terms of digital habits, 52.2% of South Africans admitted they would share their personal details like full name, email, phone number or even their current location on social media, while globally only 18.7% admitted to behaving the same way, says NordVPN digital privacy expert Daniel Markuson.
“People want to tell compelling stories on social media but forget about oversharing,” he says.
One field where South Africa demonstrated strength was knowing exactly how to react when notified about an unknown device trying to log into their email account. As many as 89.8% would change their password and set up multifactor authentication immediately.
The global results of the online privacy awareness test are fairly satisfactory, with an average score of 65.2. However, despite knowing well how to assess and react to online threats with a global average of 84.2 and knowing in theory how to stay safe online at 72.2, people around the world have very poor cybersecurity habits and scored only 47.1 points for digital habits.
“To be truly private online, one must not only know how to react to threats but also how to prevent them. Clearing the browsing history will not make you more private, as half of the world thinks, but good habits and comprehensive cybersecurity tools like a virtual private network and antivirus [software] will,” he points out.