Merck targeted in global ransomware attack

Merck & Co. was among those affected by a massive ransomware attack Tuesday that infiltrated the computer systems of companies around the world as well as government ministries in Ukraine.

Merck confirmed in Twitter posts Tuesday that it was hit in the cyberattack but did not disclose much else about the hack. Merck representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for further detail on Tuesday afternoon.

Experts are calling the latest attack Petya, according to The New York Times, which reports that the hackers’ identities aren’t known. According to the publication, the program infiltrates computers and demands a ransom in order for users to take back control.

Other companies based in France, England, Russia and elsewhere suffered from the virus, the Times reports, as well as government systems in Ukraine. According to, the virus was detected at Merck early Tuesday morning in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

RELATED: Financially motivated hackers break into 3 major pharma companies in 18 months

As digital threats against governments and companies have grown in recent years, Merck certainly isn’t the first Big Pharma to suffer from a cyberattack. Last year, security tech firm Symantec released a report disclosing that hackers gained access to systems at three major European pharma firms between January 2014 and June 2015.

According to Symantec, hackers in those cases were also financially motivated and sought private, stock-moving info from email and content management servers.