The country with the best cybersecurity skills may surprise you

The Vatican virtual tour
(Image credit: The Wander Blogger)

In a result few would have expected, it appears that the world's smallest country is also the most literate in terms of cybersecurity: Vatican City.

According to the National Privacy Test conducted by one of the best VPN services around, NordVPN, The Holy See came out on top, with eight of the other top ten countries also being European. The UK ranked 35th in the global scoreboard.

The test, in NordVPN's own words, is "designed to evaluate aspects of an individual's online life, including their understanding of cybersecurity in theory and their ability to recognize online threats and react accordingly."

European dominance

From data gathered since 2020 - with almost 140,000 respondents from 192 countries responding to 20 questions - Vatican City respondents scored 72 points in the test, the highest of any other country. 

According to NordVPN, the residents "demonstrated an excellent awareness of digital risks and how to avoid them." However, it did criticize their digital habits, commenting on the need for residents to improve their use of online services and privacy tools to remain secure.

In second place was Finland, and third was the Czech Republic. Compared to Vatican City, both countries achieved comparatively poorer results in all areas of the test: digital habits, digital privacy awareness, and digital risk. 

Singapore was the only country outside Europe to break into the top ten, ranking seventh with 69 points scored, the highest of any Asian country. Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates trailed behind, both scoring 67 points.

The US also scored 67, ranking 21st globally. It beat Canada in every aspect of the test, though: digital habits (48 to 45 points), digital privacy awareness (74 to 69 points), and digital risk (85 to 82 points). 

In the Oceanic region, New Zealand claimed the top spot, scoring 68 points, whereas Australia only scored 63 points. In all categories New Zealand performed better. And Brazil led the way in Latin America, scoring 67 points and beating its nearest rival, Argentina and Colombia, by two points. Colombia did achieve better scores in digital habits (49 to 47) and digital risks (84 to 80) than Argentina though. 

The global average score was 65 points, and respondents did best in recognizing and avoiding digital risks, with an average score of 82 points. 69 points was the average score for knowing how to best protect themselves from malware, and only 47 points for knowing how to secure data by using privacy tools and online services correctly.

Lewis Maddison
Reviews Writer

Lewis Maddison is a Reviews Writer for TechRadar. He previously worked as a Staff Writer for our business section, TechRadar Pro, where he had experience with productivity-enhancing hardware, ranging from keyboards to standing desks. His area of expertise lies in computer peripherals and audio hardware, having spent over a decade exploring the murky depths of both PC building and music production. He also revels in picking up on the finest details and niggles that ultimately make a big difference to the user experience.