BOSTON: Companies and organisations in 150 countries were hit earlier this month by the WannaCry ransomware cyber attack, which has prompted a major security firm to conduct an extensive survey of American concerns.

Based on responses from 5,000 people, Carbon Black found that 57% of consumers said WannaCry was their first exposure to how ransomware works, even though the malware has been around for more than a decade.

Approximately 70% of consumers said they trust financial institutions and healthcare providers to keep their data safe, but only half (52%) trust retailers.

The relatively low level of trust in retailers can be explained by the depersonalised nature of the relationship consumers often have with them, the report said.

"With financial institutions and healthcare providers, there is often a personalised relationship tied to the business (working for years with an advisor or doctor, for example) and an inherent level of trust."

Elsewhere, when asked whether or not they would consider leaving a business if it was hit by a ransomware attack, 72% of US consumers said they would consider leaving their financial institution while healthcare providers and retailers scored 68% and 70% respectively.

Carbon Black also asked consumers about what they regard as their most sensitive information. Not surprisingly, financial information topped the list (42%), but this was only marginally ahead of family photos and videos (41%), while medical records and phone data (5%) were much less of a concern.

Interestingly, around half (52%) of US consumers said they would pay a ransom in the event of their personal computer or data being taken hostage by ransomware.

A full 12% said they would pay $500 or more to get their data back, although 29% said they would pay between $100 and $500, and 59% would pay less than $100.

Finally, the survey found that consumers believe the onus of responsibility to keep their data safe rests mostly with individual organisations and companies.

"While ransomware is certainly nothing new, consumers are now increasingly turning to businesses with questions about how they are protecting sensitive data," the report concluded. "Following the WannaCry ransomware attacks, these businesses should be prepared with an answer."

Data sourced from Carbon Black; additional content by WARC staff