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Malware Attack Disrupts Merck’s Worldwide Operations

American pharmaceutical giant Merck revealed in its financial results announcement for the second quarter of 2017 that a recent cyberattack has disrupted its worldwide operations, including manufacturing, research and sales.

American pharmaceutical giant Merck revealed in its financial results announcement for the second quarter of 2017 that a recent cyberattack has disrupted its worldwide operations, including manufacturing, research and sales.

While Merck has not provided details about the incident in its financial report, the June 27 attack referenced by the company is most likely the NotPetya malware outbreak that affected tens of thousands of systems in more than 65 countries. Many of the victims were located in Ukraine, the home of a tax software firm whose product was used as the main attack vector.

Researchers initially believed NotPetya (aka PetrWrap, exPetr, GoldenEye and Diskcoder.C) was a piece of ransomware, similar to WannaCry. However, a closer analysis revealed that it was actually a wiper and it was unlikely that victims could recover their files, even if they paid the ransom.

Merck, which was named as one of the victims of the NotPetya attack shortly after the outbreak started, said on Friday that it had yet to fully assess the impact of the disruption. The company said it had still been working on restoring operations and minimizing the effects of the incident.

“The company is in the process of restoring its manufacturing operations. To date, Merck has largely restored its packaging operations and has partially restored its formulation operations,” Merck said. “The company is in the process of restoring its Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient operations but is not yet producing bulk product. The company’s external manufacturing was not impacted. Throughout this time, Merck has continued to fulfill orders and ship product.”

Merck is just one of several major companies affected by the NotPetya attack. The list also includes Ukraine’s central bank, Russian oil giant Rosneft, UK-based advertising group WPP, Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk, and FedEx-owned TNT Express.

FedEx reported last month that it had still been working on restoring systems hit by the destructive malware attack, and admitted that it may not be able to fully restore all affected systems and recover all the critical business data encrypted by NotPetya.

Reckitt Benckiser, the British consumer goods company that makes Nurofen, Dettol and Durex products, said the attack disrupted its ability to manufacture and distribute products. The firm estimated that the incident could have an impact of £100 million ($130 million) on its revenue.

Related: Industry Reactions to Destructive NotPetya Attacks

Related: NotPetya Connected to BlackEnergy/KillDisk

Related: Researchers Dissect Stealthy Backdoor Used by NotPetya Operators

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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