Ransomware : Your Worst Information Technology Nightmare
Ransomware  Recovery ExpertsRansomware has become a too-frequent cyber pandemic that presents an enterprise-level threat for businesses of all sizes unprepared for an attack. Multiple generations of ransomware such as Dharma, WannaCry, Bad Rabbit, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been around for many years and still inflict damage. Modern strains of ransomware such as Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, Conti and Egregor, along with more unnamed viruses, not only encrypt on-line data but also infect any configured system protection mechanisms. Data synchronized to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be corrupted. In a poorly designed system, this can render any restoration hopeless and basically knocks the entire system back to zero.

Restoring programs and information following a ransomware intrusion becomes a sprint against the clock as the targeted business tries its best to contain the damage and eradicate the virus and to restore mission-critical activity. Since ransomware takes time to spread, penetrations are usually sprung on weekends and holidays, when attacks are likely to take more time to detect. This multiplies the difficulty of quickly mobilizing and coordinating a qualified response team.

Progent provides a variety of help services for protecting Beverly Hills businesses from crypto-ransomware attacks. Among these are team member training to help recognize and not fall victim to phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for endpoint detection and response (EDR) utilizing SentinelOne's behavior-based cyberthreat defense to detect and extinguish zero-day malware attacks. Progent also offers the services of seasoned crypto-ransomware recovery professionals with the talent and commitment to re-deploy a breached system as soon as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Recovery Help
Subsequent to a ransomware event, even paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not ensure that merciless criminals will return the codes to unencrypt any of your data. Kaspersky Labs determined that seventeen percent of ransomware victims never restored their data even after having paid the ransom, resulting in more losses. The gamble is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms often range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well higher than the usual crypto-ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be around $13,000 for small organizations. The other path is to re-install the mission-critical parts of your IT environment. Without access to full data backups, this requires a wide range of skill sets, top notch project management, and the willingness to work continuously until the recovery project is done.

For twenty years, Progent has offered expert Information Technology services for businesses throughout the United States and has achieved Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts includes professionals who have been awarded high-level industry certifications in foundation technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity engineers have garnered internationally-recognized certifications including CISM, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has experience in financial management and ERP software solutions. This breadth of experience gives Progent the capability to rapidly identify critical systems and consolidate the surviving parts of your computer network environment following a ransomware penetration and rebuild them into a functioning network.

Progent's ransomware group has powerful project management applications to orchestrate the sophisticated recovery process. Progent appreciates the importance of working rapidly and in concert with a client's management and Information Technology staff to prioritize tasks and to put key applications back online as soon as humanly possible.

Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Virus Response
A small business contacted Progent after their organization was penetrated by Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is thought to have been launched by North Korean government sponsored criminal gangs, possibly using techniques exposed from the U.S. NSA organization. Ryuk seeks specific companies with limited ability to sustain disruption and is among the most lucrative examples of ransomware viruses. Major targets include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing company, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a small manufacturing company headquartered in the Chicago metro area with about 500 employees. The Ryuk event had disabled all company operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's backups had been online at the beginning of the attack and were damaged. The client was evaluating paying the ransom demand (more than two hundred thousand dollars) and hoping for the best, but in the end brought in Progent.

"I cannot say enough in regards to the care Progent gave us throughout the most stressful time of (our) company's life. We may have had to pay the criminal gangs if not for the confidence the Progent experts afforded us. The fact that you were able to get our messaging and production servers back sooner than one week was beyond my wildest dreams. Each person I got help from or texted at Progent was totally committed on getting us back on-line and was working 24/7 to bail us out."

Progent worked hand in hand the client to quickly understand and prioritize the mission critical services that needed to be addressed in order to continue departmental operations:

  • Active Directory (AD)
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • MRP System
To get going, Progent adhered to ransomware penetration response industry best practices by halting lateral movement and disinfecting systems. Progent then started the process of recovering Microsoft AD, the heart of enterprise networks built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Exchange messaging will not operate without Windows AD, and the businesses' MRP system used Microsoft SQL, which needs Active Directory for authentication to the information.

In less than two days, Progent was able to recover Windows Active Directory to its pre-penetration state. Progent then helped perform reinstallations and storage recovery of needed systems. All Exchange ties and attributes were intact, which accelerated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was also able to assemble non-encrypted OST files (Outlook Email Off-Line Data Files) on user workstations to recover email data. A not too old off-line backup of the client's accounting systems made them able to restore these required applications back on-line. Although major work still had to be done to recover totally from the Ryuk attack, core services were recovered quickly:

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

Over the next few weeks critical milestones in the restoration project were accomplished through close collaboration between Progent consultants and the customer:

  • In-house web sites were restored with no loss of data.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server with over 4 million archived messages was restored to operations and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoices/AP/Accounts Receivables/Inventory Control capabilities were fully functional.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 firewall was set up and programmed.
  • Most of the user desktops and notebooks were functioning as before the incident.

"So much of what happened in the initial days is mostly a blur for me, but my team will not soon forget the urgency all of you accomplished to give us our company back. I have been working with Progent for the past ten years, maybe more, and each time Progent has shined and delivered. This event was the most impressive ever."

A likely business extinction catastrophe was dodged due to dedicated experts, a broad array of IT skills, and tight collaboration. Although in post mortem the crypto-ransomware virus incident detailed here could have been prevented with modern security technology and ISO/IEC 27001 best practices, user education, and well thought out security procedures for information backup and applying software patches, the fact remains that state-sponsored hackers from China, Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and represent an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a crypto-ransomware attack, remember that Progent's team of experts has a proven track record in ransomware virus blocking, remediation, and file disaster recovery.

"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen and Tony (and any others who were helping), I'm grateful for letting me get some sleep after we got past the initial push. All of you did an impressive job, and if any of your guys is in the Chicago area, a great meal is on me!"

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

Contact Progent for Ransomware Cleanup Consulting Services in Beverly Hills
For ransomware system recovery consulting services in the Beverly Hills metro area, call Progent at 800-462-8800 or see Contact Progent.

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