A World Full of Privacy and Security (Mis)conceptions? Findings of a Representative Survey in 12 Countries


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Misconceptions about digital security and privacy topics in the general public frequently lead to insecure behavior. However, little is known about the prevalence and extent of such misconceptions in a global context. In this work, we present the results of the first large-scale survey of a global population on misconceptions: We conducted an online survey with n = 12, 351 participants in 12 countries on four continents. By investigating influencing factors of misconceptions around eight common security and privacy topics (including E2EE, Wi-Fi, VPN, and malware), we find the country of residence to be the strongest estimate for holding misconceptions. We also identify differences between non-Western and Western countries, demonstrating the need for region-specific research on user security knowledge, perceptions, and behavior. While we did not observe many outright misconceptions, we did identify a lack of understanding and uncertainty about several fundamental privacy and security topics.


Usable Security and Privacy
Understanding and Transforming Security and Privacy Behaviors
Empirical Studies on the Perception of Security and Privacy