Ransomware : Your Crippling Information Technology Nightmare
Crypto-Ransomware  Recovery ConsultantsRansomware has become an escalating cyber pandemic that represents an enterprise-level threat for organizations vulnerable to an assault. Multiple generations of crypto-ransomware like the Dharma, Fusob, Locky, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been running rampant for a long time and continue to cause harm. Modern versions of crypto-ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, Snatch and Egregor, along with more unnamed viruses, not only encrypt on-line information but also infect all accessible system protection. Data replicated to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be corrupted. In a vulnerable data protection solution, this can render automatic restoration hopeless and basically sets the entire system back to zero.

Getting back on-line applications and information following a crypto-ransomware intrusion becomes a race against time as the targeted organization tries its best to contain the damage and cleanup the virus and to resume enterprise-critical operations. Because ransomware needs time to move laterally, penetrations are often sprung on weekends, when successful attacks are likely to take longer to discover. This compounds the difficulty of rapidly assembling and organizing an experienced mitigation team.

Progent has a variety of support services for protecting Atlanta organizations from ransomware attacks. These include team member training to help identify and avoid phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, plus deployment of next-generation security gateways with artificial intelligence technology to automatically discover and suppress zero-day cyber attacks. Progent also can provide the services of expert ransomware recovery engineers with the track record and commitment to reconstruct a breached environment as soon as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Recovery Support Services
Following a ransomware event, even paying the ransom in cryptocurrency does not provide any assurance that cyber criminals will respond with the needed codes to unencrypt any or all of your data. Kaspersky Labs ascertained that 17% of crypto-ransomware victims never recovered their files after having sent off the ransom, resulting in increased losses. The risk is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly above the usual ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimated to be around $13,000 for smaller businesses. The alternative is to setup from scratch the key elements of your IT environment. Absent the availability of full data backups, this calls for a wide complement of skills, well-coordinated team management, and the willingness to work non-stop until the recovery project is over.

For two decades, Progent has provided certified expert IT services for businesses throughout the United States and has earned Microsoft's Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes professionals who have attained high-level industry certifications in important technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security engineers have earned internationally-renowned certifications including CISM, CISSP, CRISC, and GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent also has expertise with financial systems and ERP application software. This breadth of experience gives Progent the skills to rapidly understand necessary systems and integrate the remaining pieces of your IT environment after a crypto-ransomware attack and rebuild them into a functioning network.

Progent's ransomware team of experts uses best of breed project management systems to orchestrate the sophisticated recovery process. Progent appreciates the importance of working quickly and in unison with a customerís management and Information Technology staff to prioritize tasks and to put key services back online as soon as humanly possible.

Customer Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Incident Response
A business sought out Progent after their company was taken over by the Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is thought to have been developed by North Korean state hackers, suspected of using techniques exposed from Americaís NSA organization. Ryuk seeks specific businesses with little or no ability to sustain disruption and is one of the most lucrative incarnations of ransomware. Headline organizations include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a small manufacturing company based in Chicago with about 500 workers. The Ryuk penetration had paralyzed all essential operations and manufacturing processes. Most of the client's data backups had been directly accessible at the time of the attack and were destroyed. The client was pursuing financing for paying the ransom (exceeding $200K) and wishfully thinking for good luck, but in the end reached out to Progent.

"I cannot thank you enough in regards to the expertise Progent provided us throughout the most stressful period of (our) companyís existence. We would have paid the criminal gangs except for the confidence the Progent team gave us. That you were able to get our e-mail system and essential servers back on-line quicker than seven days was incredible. Every single expert I interacted with or e-mailed at Progent was absolutely committed on getting our company operational and was working breakneck pace to bail us out."

Progent worked with the client to rapidly get our arms around and prioritize the key services that had to be restored to make it possible to resume company functions:

  • Active Directory
  • Electronic Messaging
  • Financials/MRP
To begin, Progent adhered to AV/Malware Processes penetration response best practices by isolating and performing virus removal steps. Progent then began the work of rebuilding Active Directory, the foundation of enterprise systems built upon Microsoft technology. Microsoft Exchange messaging will not function without Windows AD, and the customerís accounting and MRP system used Microsoft SQL, which requires Windows AD for security authorization to the database.

In less than 2 days, Progent was able to recover Active Directory to its pre-penetration state. Progent then helped perform rebuilding and hard drive recovery of essential systems. All Exchange schema and configuration information were usable, which accelerated the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to locate local OST data files (Outlook Offline Folder Files) on various PCs to recover mail data. A recent off-line backup of the businesses financials/MRP systems made it possible to return these essential applications back online for users. Although significant work still had to be done to recover completely from the Ryuk attack, critical systems were restored rapidly:

"For the most part, the production line operation ran fairly normal throughout and we made all customer orders."

Over the following few weeks critical milestones in the recovery project were achieved through tight collaboration between Progent team members and the client:

  • Self-hosted web sites were restored with no loss of information.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server with over 4 million historical messages was brought on-line and available for users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoicing/Accounts Payable (AP)/Accounts Receivables/Inventory capabilities were 100% restored.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was set up and programmed.
  • Ninety percent of the user PCs were fully operational.

"A lot of what went on in the early hours is nearly entirely a blur for me, but my team will not forget the dedication each of the team put in to help get our company back. I have utilized Progent for the past ten years, maybe more, and each time Progent has impressed me and delivered as promised. This event was the most impressive ever."

A possible enterprise-killing catastrophe was averted by results-oriented professionals, a wide array of IT skills, and close collaboration. Although in hindsight the ransomware penetration described here should have been identified and prevented with modern cyber security systems and NIST Cybersecurity Framework or ISO/IEC 27001 best practices, team education, and properly executed security procedures for backup and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the reality is that government-sponsored criminal cyber gangs from China, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and will continue. If you do fall victim to a crypto-ransomware incident, remember that Progent's team of professionals has a proven track record in ransomware virus defense, mitigation, and file disaster recovery.

"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen and Tony (along with others who were helping), thanks very much for making it so I could get some sleep after we got over the initial push. Everyone did an amazing effort, and if anyone that helped is in the Chicago area, a great meal is the least I can do!"

Download the Ransomware Remediation Case Study Datasheet
To review or download a PDF version of this customer story, please click:
Progent's Ryuk Incident Recovery Case Study Datasheet. (PDF - 282 KB)

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