World's biggest agency networks claim all clear from cyber attack following WPP hacking

Networks declaring all clear following attack on WPP

Following the cyber attack that has affected WPP, it seems no other agency network has been involved with Omnicom, Interpublic Group (IPG), Havas, Publicis Groupe and Dentsu Aegis all denying being affected.

The Drum has heard from the biggest networks in the world who each said there had been no effects or sign of an attack on their systems in the manner affecting WPP.

A spokesperson from IPG told The Drum: "As of now, we do not have any reports of IPG systems being impacted," while others speaking on behalf of Omnicom, Havas and Dentsu Aegis also gave a similar response.

Publicis Groupe was the last to deny they had avoided being subject to a cyber attack at the time of writing.

Ashish Bhasin, chairman and CEO of South Asia at Dentsu Aegis Network, commented on the issue.

“I think cyber attacks are a new reality with which the world has yet to come to grips with. It is a bit of a cat and mouse game where the hackers are always trying to be one step ahead while the users are trying to find the best protection that they can get. Among other things, the only real precaution you can take is that legal software is used, proper anti-virus software systems are in place, particularly in servers holding a large amount of data. And, most importantly, which is not that commonly done in India, the users should be adequately sensitized on the kind of mails that could be potentially harmful. Equipment which is not authorized should not be allowed to be plugged to company systems, regular updates on the protection software should be carried out, strictly only legal software should be used and the moment there is anything suspicious, the same should be reported to IT.

"I think as a country, India is often unprepared but of late, the awareness levels are rapidly rising because the cost involved in the potential disruption to business is just too high," he added.

Earlier today, cyber security firm Symantec confirmed that the attack is a new strain of 'Petya' ransomware that was used in last month's WannaCry attack that affected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries, including the NHS.

A spokesperson for WPP confirmed it has been affected: "IT systems in several WPP companies have been affected by a suspected cyber attack. We are assessing the situation, taking appropriate measures and will update as soon as possible."

Offering his insight on the event, Justin Harvey, from Accenture's Instant Response team claimed that it was "extremely serious" and that there was no 'kill switch' which could simply end the attack.

"The potential fallout is that this strain is encrypting all of the data on the computer and then rebooting the computer and encrypt all of your documents. This encrypts everything, and doesn’t let you use it, unless you provide the ‘un-encryption’ key."

He added: "This is an emergency type of recommendation but until organizations are fully patched they need to quarantine all inbound attachments for scrutiny."

Following this week’s cyber-attack on a number of large organisations, including our direct competitors, we can confirm that Dentsu Aegis has not been impacted by this attack. However, our teams remain vigilant and we are taking appropriate measures to increase our protection across our IT network.

Updated:

A spokesperson for Dentsu Aegis told The Drum: "Dentsu Aegis has an established global cyber security programme to assess and deploy approved vendor patches, to scan and manage vulnerabilities and deploy latest anti-virus definition across the enterprise. This has put us in a strong position to respond to the latest attack and we will continue to prioritise our cyber security programme to ensure we are at the forefront of managing emerging threats."

Stephen Lepitak

Stephen Lepitak is editor of The Drum, with responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day running of the content produced for the various platforms run by the publication. Over the years he has interviewed agency network bosses such as Sir Martin Sorrell, Maurice Lévy and Arthur Sadoun, as well as Cindy Gallop, Kim Kardashian, film directors James Cameron, Spike Jonze, Richard Curtis and Lord David Puttnam. With a keen interest in media and breaking news, Lepitak has been with The Drum since 2005 and is based across its UK, US and Asia operations.

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