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Heritage Valley Health System Targeted In Global Cyber Attack

BEAVER (KDKA/AP) - The Heritage Valley Health System says it has fallen victim to a widespread cyber attack that's impacting a large number of organizations around the globe.

A spokeswoman confirmed the attack Tuesday morning.

"Heritage Valley Health System has been affected by a cyber security incident. The incident is widespread and is affecting the entire health system including satellite and community locations. We have implemented downtime procedures and made operational adjustments to ensure safe patient care continues un-impeded."

Later in the day, health system officials confirmed the intrusion was related to Tuesday's outbreak of malicious data-scrambling software that caused mass disruptions worldwide.

KDKA's Lynne Hayes-Freeland Reports --

Tuesday evening, the hospital continued to operate under their "downtime procedures," which are not dependent on computers. They also said they were taking restorative measures.

"Heritage Valley Health System was impacted by a cyber security incident the morning of June 27. This incident has been identified as the same ransomware attack that affected a number of organizations globally. Corrective measures supplied by our antivirus software vendor have been developed and are being implemented and tested within the health system," Suzanne Sakson, the health system's communications director said in a statement.

Some patients took to social media to post that their surgeries were postponed due to the outage.

"The fact that we had to postpone some medical procedures and surgeries today was a wise and prudent decision that demonstrates that this has real consequences to people in their daily lives," said former U.S. Attorney David Hickton, the founding director of the Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security.

Experts say the sophisticated and sinister cyber invasion has one underlying goal.

"So the suspicions are that this is a criminal motive. Why? Because they're asking for money," said Carl Herberger, of Radware Cybersecurity.

KDKA's Kym Gable Reports --

David Thaw, an assistant professor of Law and Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, said, "The money comes from trading information on black market exchanges, and this is not something the average consumer as an individual can do something about."

The hackers do demand money, $300 to be exact. They tell users to pay up in the crypto-currency bitcoin, to get their files back. But, what they're likely after is information.

"There's a lot of money in data in mass. One record is not worth a great deal of money. One million, one billion records is worth a lot of money," said Thaw.

Lisa Washington's Report:

Heritage Valley has 3,500 employees. The company has not said if employee records were affected. It is also unclear how the ransomware attack might impact patient records.

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.

The health system is made up of two hospitals, 60 doctors offices and 18 community satellite facilities.

Also affected in the United States 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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(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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