Ransomware : Your Feared Information Technology Nightmare
Ransomware has become an escalating cyberplague that represents an existential danger for businesses of all sizes poorly prepared for an assault. Different iterations of ransomware like the Reveton, WannaCry, Bad Rabbit, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been replicating for many years and still cause harm. The latest versions of ransomware such as Ryuk and Hermes, along with frequent unnamed newcomers, not only do encryption of on-line data but also infect most accessible system backup. Data synched to the cloud can also be encrypted. In a poorly architected system, it can render automatic restoration useless and basically knocks the entire system back to zero.
Getting back programs and data after a ransomware intrusion becomes a sprint against time as the targeted organization struggles to contain and clear the ransomware and to restore business-critical operations. Due to the fact that crypto-ransomware takes time to replicate, assaults are usually sprung on weekends and holidays, when attacks in many cases take more time to recognize. This multiplies the difficulty of rapidly mobilizing and organizing a capable mitigation team.
Progent offers a range of help services for protecting businesses from ransomware events. These include team member education to become familiar with and avoid phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, plus installation of the latest generation security solutions with artificial intelligence technology to automatically detect and suppress zero-day cyber threats. Progent in addition provides the assistance of veteran ransomware recovery professionals with the talent and perseverance to rebuild a compromised environment as urgently as possible.
Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Recovery Support Services
Following a crypto-ransomware event, paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not guarantee that merciless criminals will respond with the keys to decipher any or all of your data. Kaspersky ascertained that 17% of ransomware victims never restored their information after having paid the ransom, resulting in increased losses. The risk is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is significantly higher than the average ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be around $13,000. The other path is to piece back together the critical elements of your Information Technology environment. Without the availability of full data backups, this calls for a wide range of skill sets, top notch team management, and the willingness to work non-stop until the task is complete.
For twenty years, Progent has offered professional Information Technology services for companies in Boise and throughout the U.S. and has achieved Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts includes consultants who have been awarded high-level certifications in leading technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's security experts have garnered internationally-recognized industry certifications including CISA, CISSP, CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent also has experience with accounting and ERP application software. This breadth of expertise gives Progent the ability to quickly ascertain critical systems and organize the surviving components of your computer network system after a ransomware attack and assemble them into a functioning network.
Progent's recovery team of experts has top notch project management tools to orchestrate the complex restoration process. Progent understands the importance of working quickly and in concert with a customerís management and Information Technology team members to assign priority to tasks and to get critical services back on line as soon as possible.
Client Story: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Virus Restoration
A client hired Progent after their network system was attacked by the Ryuk ransomware virus. Ryuk is believed to have been developed by Northern Korean government sponsored hackers, possibly using approaches leaked from the United States NSA organization. Ryuk goes after specific businesses with little room for disruption and is one of the most profitable instances of ransomware. High publicized targets include Data Resolution, a California-based information warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a regional manufacturer located in Chicago and has around 500 employees. The Ryuk intrusion had brought down all business operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's information backups had been online at the beginning of the attack and were damaged. The client considered paying the ransom demand (in excess of $200K) and hoping for the best, but in the end brought in Progent.
"I canít say enough in regards to the help Progent provided us throughout the most fearful period of (our) companyís life. We most likely would have paid the cyber criminals behind the attack if it wasnít for the confidence the Progent experts afforded us. That you could get our e-mail system and important applications back online faster than a week was incredible. Every single person I talked with or messaged at Progent was laser focused on getting us working again and was working 24 by 7 to bail us out."
Progent worked hand in hand the customer to rapidly assess and prioritize the most important applications that needed to be restored to make it possible to resume departmental functions:
To begin, Progent adhered to AV/Malware Processes penetration response best practices by halting lateral movement and cleaning up infected systems. Progent then started the process of recovering Microsoft Active Directory, the core of enterprise systems built upon Microsoft technology. Exchange email will not operate without Active Directory, and the client's accounting and MRP system leveraged SQL Server, which depends on Active Directory for authentication to the database.
- Active Directory (AD)
- Microsoft Exchange Email
Within two days, Progent was able to re-build Windows Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then performed rebuilding and storage recovery of the most important systems. All Exchange Server schema and configuration information were intact, which facilitated the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to collect local OST data files (Microsoft Outlook Off-Line Folder Files) on staff PCs and laptops to recover email messages. A recent offline backup of the businesses accounting software made them able to restore these required applications back servicing users. Although a large amount of work remained to recover completely from the Ryuk attack, essential services were returned to operations quickly:
"For the most part, the production line operation ran fairly normal throughout and we delivered all customer shipments."
Throughout the next couple of weeks key milestones in the recovery project were achieved through close cooperation between Progent engineers and the customer:
- Internal web applications were returned to operation without losing any data.
- The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server with over four million archived emails was spun up and available for users.
- CRM/Product Ordering/Invoicing/AP/AR/Inventory Control modules were fully operational.
- A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was set up and programmed.
- Ninety percent of the user workstations were being used by staff.
"A lot of what transpired during the initial response is mostly a blur for me, but our team will not soon forget the urgency all of the team put in to give us our business back. I have been working with Progent for the past 10 years, maybe more, and every time Progent has outperformed my expectations and delivered as promised. This situation was no exception but maybe more Herculean."
A probable business disaster was averted by dedicated professionals, a broad spectrum of subject matter expertise, and tight collaboration. Although in post mortem the ransomware incident described here should have been stopped with current cyber security technology and recognized best practices, team education, and well thought out incident response procedures for data backup and proper patching controls, the fact remains that government-sponsored criminal cyber gangs from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and will continue. If you do fall victim to a crypto-ransomware penetration, remember that Progent's team of experts has substantial experience in ransomware virus defense, removal, and file restoration.
"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others that were involved), Iím grateful for making it so I could get some sleep after we made it past the most critical parts. Everyone did an incredible job, and if anyone that helped is visiting the Chicago area, dinner is on me!"
To review or download a PDF version of this case study, please click:
Progent's Ransomware Incident Recovery Case Study Datasheet. (PDF - 282 KB)
Additional Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent offers companies in Boise a range of online monitoring and security evaluation services to assist you to reduce your vulnerability to ransomware. These services utilize modern machine learning capability to uncover new variants of ransomware that can escape detection by traditional signature-based anti-virus products.
For 24/7/365 Boise Ransomware Cleanup Consultants, reach out to Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.
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- ProSight IT Asset Management: Network Documentation Management
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