The Latest: Pennsylvania hospital system hit in cyberattack

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on a widespread cyberattack that is affecting companies and government systems (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

A hospital and health care system based in western Pennsylvania says it is dealing with a widespread cyberattack.

A spokeswoman for Heritage Valley Health System says the attack Tuesday is affecting the organization’s entire health system and employees are working to ensure safe patient care continues.

Heritage Valley is a $480 million network that provides care for residents of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties, in Pennsylvania; parts of eastern Ohio; and the panhandle of West Virginia.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the cyberattack was related to the outbreak of malicious data-scrambling software that appears to be causing mass disruption across Europe Tuesday.

Also affected is New Jersey-based Merck, the second-largest drugmaker in the United States with extensive operations in the Philadelphia area.

Merck confirmed its computer network was “compromised” as part of the global attack.

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(Previously datelined KIEV, Ukraine)

7:10 p.m.

The second-largest drugmaker in the United States is confirming it’s been affected by a cyberattack.

In a message sent using its verified Twitter account, Merck confirmed Tuesday that its computer network was “compromised” as part of a global attack.

Officials said the Kenilworth, New Jersey-based company was investigating the incident but provided no further details.

Merck has global locations including in Ukraine, where a new and highly virulent outbreak of malicious data-scrambling software causing mass disruption across Europe appeared to be hitting especially hard.

Company and government officials reported serious intrusions at the Ukrainian power grid, banks and government offices, where one senior official posted a photo of a darkened computer screen and the words, “the whole network is down.”

Dutch-based transport company TNT Express, which was taken over last year by FedEx, also said Tuesday that it is suffering computer disruptions. Spokesman Cyrille Gibot says that “like many other companies and institutions around the world, we are experiencing interference with some of our systems within the TNT network. We are assessing the situation and are implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible and we regret any inconvenience to our customers.” He declined further comment.

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5:45 p.m.

Ukraine’s prime minister says that a cyberattack affecting his country is “unprecedented,” but “vital systems haven’t been affected.”

A new and highly virulent outbreak of malicious data-scrambling software appears to be causing mass disruption across Europe, hitting Ukraine especially hard.

Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman also said on Facebook that “our IT experts are doing their job and protecting critical infrastructure … The attack will be repelled and the perpetrators will be tracked down.”

Company and government officials reported serious intrusions at the Ukrainian power grid, banks and government offices, where one senior official posted a photo of a darkened computer screen and the words, “the whole network is down.” Russia’s Rosneft oil company also reported falling victim to hacking, as did Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk.

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4:35 p.m.

Hackers have caused widespread disruption across Europe, hitting Ukraine especially hard.

Company and government officials reported major disruption to the Ukrainian power grid, banks and government offices. Russia’s Rosneft energy company also reported falling victim to hacking, as did shipping company A.P. Moller-Maersk, which said every branch of its business was affected.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Rozenko on Tuesday posted a picture of a darkened computer screen to Twitter, saying that the computer system at the government’s headquarters has been shut down.

There’s very little information about who might be behind the disruption, but technology experts who examined screenshots circulating on social media said it bears the hallmarks of ransomware, the name given to programs that hold data hostage by scrambling it until a payment is made.

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