The silhouette of a man is seen typing on a laptop computer (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

WPP Suffers Suspected Cyber Attack as Ukraine, Russia Also Hit

(Bloomberg) -- WPP Plc, the world’s largest advertising company, was hit by a cyber attack, as companies in the Ukraine and Russia were also being targeted.

“IT systems in several WPP companies have been affected,” WPP said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday. “We are assessing the situation, taking appropriate measures and will update as soon as possible.”

WPP’s website is down, and employees have been told to turn off their computers and not use Wi-fi, according to a person familiar with the matter. Sea Containers, the London offices of WPP creative agency Ogilvy & Mather, has been shut down, another person said. Images on Twitter showed screens that said users’ files had been encrypted and demanded $300 be paid in Bitcoin to unlock them.

That matches the profile of the Petya virus which, according to the Moscow-based cybersecurity company Group-IB, disabled computers at more than 80 companies in Russia and Ukraine on Tuesday and demanded a $300 ransom in cryptocurrency.

The strikes follow the global ransomware assault in May involving the WannaCry virus that affected hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries as extortionists demanded $300 in bitcoin from victims for them to be decrypted. Ransomware attacks have been soaring and the number of such incidents increased by 50 percent in 2016, according to an April report from Verizon Communications Inc.