Universal Health tells employees its corporate network remains offline

By Raphael Satter

(Reuters) - Hospital chain Universal Health Services has on Tuesday told employees that its network remains offline, two days after the company fell prey to an apparent ransomware attack.

On Monday the company, which runs some 400 hospitals and care centers across the United States and the United Kingdom, announced it was dealing with an "IT security issue."

UHS has provided no detail on the nature of the issue, but experts said the outage had the hallmarks of ransomware, a breed of malicious software that locks users out of their computers until a digital payment is made.

A text message sent by UHS to its staff and reviewed by Reuters said that "the corporate network remains offline." The message provided no timetable for when computer access would be restored and instructed some UHS employees to "please continue to work remotely using alternative communication channels."

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In a statement, UHS said that while "this matter may result in temporary disruptions to certain aspects of our clinical and financial operations," patient care "continues to be delivered safely and effectively."

The statement was forwarded to Reuters by a UHS spokeswoman using her personal email address. A message seeking further detail was not immediately returned; emails sent to her professional account were returned as undeliverable.

(Reporting by Raphael Satter; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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