Pennsylvania health system, U.S. drugmaker hit by global ransomware attack

A new ransomware dubbed "WannaCry" is living up to its name as it strikes out at businesses without proper data backups. Here is what we know.
A Pennsylvania made "operational adjustments" after being hit by a global ransomware attack.

A health system in Pennsylvania and a U.S.-based pharmaceutical company are among the companies experiencing operational challenges from a global ransomware attack—the second one in as many months.

Heritage Valley Health System, based in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, was infected by a malware virus known as Petya late Tuesday morning that impacted the “entire health system including satellite and community locations,” according to the system’s website.

Early Wednesday morning, HVHS said lab and diagnostic services in “medical neighborhoods and community locations” would be closed and referred patients to its two hospitals. The integrated healthcare system has 60 physician offices and 18 community satellite facilities throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and parts of West Virginia.

A patient from Ohio who was prepped for gallbladder surgery told the Associated Press surgeons were able to complete the operation, but that the system canceled planned surgeries for other patients.

“Corrective measures supplied by our antivirus software vendor have been developed and are being implemented and tested within the health system,” the health system's website stated. “Additionally, other restorative measures are being undertaken at this time. Heritage Valley continues to implement downtime procedures and make operational adjustments to ensure safe patient care.”

A statement issued by HITRUST indicated there are “multiple reports” of healthcare organizations affected by the malware.

“Given the reported impacts to care delivery and the rate this has spread to other systems and other countries, we consider this a serious incident,” the organization said.

RELATED: After WannaCry, experts worry healthcare’s vulnerabilities will make the next ransomware attack even worse

Pharmaceutical giant Merck, headquartered in New Jersey, also reported its computer network was compromised by the attack, but offered no additional details

Organizations across the globe were feeling the impact of the malware attack closely resembling last month’s WannaCry virus that shut down the U.K.’s National Health System. Microsoft indicated the most recent cyberattack originated in Ukraine and spread to another 64 countries, including Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Russia and the U.S. spanning several industries.

Rob Wainwright, the executive director of Europol said the agency was responding to the attack impacting companies across Europe.

Security firms offered conflicting analysis of the attack. Symantec reported the attack was a new strain of Petya ransomware with similarities to WannaCry. 

However, Russia-based Kaspersky Laboratories said the attack was not a variant of Petya, but called it a “complex attack” with “several attack vectors.”

The attack comes just weeks after the Department of Health and Human Services reported two “large, multistate” hospital systems were still dealing with “significant challenges to operations because of WannaCry malware.”