Ransomware : Your Crippling IT Catastrophe
Crypto-Ransomware  Recovery ConsultantsCrypto-Ransomware has become an escalating cyber pandemic that represents an extinction-level threat for organizations unprepared for an assault. Different versions of crypto-ransomware such as Dharma, CryptoWall, Locky, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been running rampant for many years and continue to cause havoc. Newer strains of crypto-ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, LockBit and Egregor, plus frequent as yet unnamed newcomers, not only do encryption of on-line data but also infiltrate most available system restores and backups. Files synchronized to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be ransomed. In a vulnerable data protection solution, it can render automated recovery useless and effectively knocks the datacenter back to zero.

Getting back programs and information after a ransomware outage becomes a sprint against the clock as the targeted business tries its best to contain and remove the virus and to restore business-critical activity. Since ransomware takes time to move laterally, attacks are often launched during weekends and nights, when penetrations typically take longer to detect. This compounds the difficulty of promptly mobilizing and orchestrating an experienced response team.

Progent has a range of services for securing Atlanta organizations from ransomware penetrations. Among these are team education to help identify and not fall victim to phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for endpoint detection and response (EDR) utilizing SentinelOne's behavior-based threat protection to identify and extinguish zero-day malware assaults. Progent in addition offers the assistance of seasoned ransomware recovery professionals with the skills and commitment to re-deploy a compromised system as soon as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Restoration Help
Following a ransomware penetration, even paying the ransom in cryptocurrency does not ensure that cyber criminals will return the codes to decrypt any of your data. Kaspersky Labs estimated that seventeen percent of ransomware victims never restored their data even after having paid the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The gamble is also costly. Ryuk ransoms frequently range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well above the average ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimated to be around $13,000 for smaller businesses. The alternative is to setup from scratch the critical parts of your IT environment. Without the availability of essential data backups, this requires a wide complement of skill sets, top notch project management, and the capability to work continuously until the task is over.

For twenty years, Progent has provided professional IT services for businesses across the U.S. and has achieved Microsoft's Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts includes professionals who have earned advanced certifications in key technologies like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security engineers have garnered internationally-recognized industry certifications including CISA, CISSP-ISSAP, CRISC, and GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent also has experience in financial systems and ERP applications. This breadth of expertise provides Progent the ability to knowledgably understand necessary systems and integrate the surviving components of your computer network system following a ransomware event and assemble them into a functioning network.

Progent's ransomware group uses best of breed project management applications to coordinate the complicated recovery process. Progent understands the urgency of working swiftly and in unison with a customer's management and IT team members to assign priority to tasks and to put essential applications back online as soon as humanly possible.

Client Story: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Attack Recovery
A customer engaged Progent after their company was attacked by Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is believed to have been launched by Northern Korean state sponsored cybercriminals, possibly adopting techniques exposed from America's National Security Agency. Ryuk goes after specific companies with little or no ability to sustain operational disruption and is one of the most profitable versions of ransomware. High publicized organizations include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a regional manufacturer based in Chicago with around 500 workers. The Ryuk attack had paralyzed all essential operations and manufacturing processes. Most of the client's backups had been on-line at the start of the attack and were eventually encrypted. The client was evaluating paying the ransom demand (more than $200K) and praying for good luck, but in the end engaged Progent.

"I cannot thank you enough in regards to the support Progent provided us throughout the most critical period of (our) company's existence. We had little choice but to pay the cyber criminals if not for the confidence the Progent experts gave us. That you could get our e-mail and essential applications back sooner than 1 week was beyond my wildest dreams. Each expert I got help from or texted at Progent was laser focused on getting us restored and was working 24/7 on our behalf."

Progent worked together with the client to quickly determine and assign priority to the key elements that had to be restored to make it possible to continue departmental functions:

  • Microsoft Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • MRP System
To start, Progent followed ransomware event response industry best practices by halting the spread and clearing infected systems. Progent then started the steps of recovering Active Directory, the core of enterprise networks built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Exchange messaging will not work without Windows AD, and the businesses' financials and MRP applications utilized Microsoft SQL, which requires Active Directory services for authentication to the database.

Within 48 hours, Progent was able to re-build Active Directory services to its pre-penetration state. Progent then completed reinstallations and storage recovery of key servers. All Exchange ties and attributes were intact, which greatly helped the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was able to locate intact OST files (Microsoft Outlook Offline Data Files) on user desktop computers and laptops to recover mail information. A recent off-line backup of the client's manufacturing software made it possible to recover these required applications back available to users. Although significant work needed to be completed to recover fully from the Ryuk virus, critical services were recovered quickly:

"For the most part, the production line operation showed little impact and we produced all customer deliverables."

During the next month key milestones in the recovery process were accomplished through close cooperation between Progent team members and the customer:

  • Internal web sites were brought back up with no loss of information.
  • The MailStore Exchange Server exceeding 4 million archived messages was restored to operations and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoices/AP/AR/Inventory Control capabilities were 100 percent recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 firewall was installed.
  • 90% of the user workstations were operational.

"Much of what occurred in the initial days is mostly a blur for me, but we will not soon forget the countless hours each and every one of your team put in to help get our company back. I have entrusted Progent for at least 10 years, possibly more, and each time Progent has outperformed my expectations and delivered as promised. This situation was a Herculean accomplishment."

A potential company-ending disaster was averted by top-tier professionals, a wide array of technical expertise, and tight collaboration. Although upon completion of forensics the ransomware attack detailed here could have been identified and blocked with current security technology and recognized best practices, staff education, and appropriate security procedures for data backup and proper patching controls, the fact is that government-sponsored cybercriminals from China, Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and are not going away. If you do fall victim to a crypto-ransomware incident, remember that Progent's roster of experts has a proven track record in crypto-ransomware virus defense, remediation, and file restoration.

"So, to Darrin, Matt, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others who were contributing), thank you for allowing me to get rested after we made it past the initial push. All of you did an fabulous effort, and if any of your team is in the Chicago area, a great meal is on me!"

Download the Crypto-Ransomware Recovery Case Study Datasheet
To review or download a PDF version of this case study, click:
Progent's Ransomware Virus Recovery Case Study Datasheet. (PDF - 282 KB)

Contact Progent for Ransomware System Recovery Consulting in Atlanta
For ransomware recovery consulting in the Atlanta area, phone Progent at 800-462-8800 or visit Contact Progent.

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