Ransomware : Your Crippling IT Nightmare
Ransomware  Remediation ConsultantsRansomware has become a modern cyber pandemic that presents an extinction-level threat for organizations poorly prepared for an attack. Different iterations of crypto-ransomware like the CryptoLocker, CryptoWall, Locky, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been running rampant for years and still cause harm. Newer strains of ransomware such as Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, Conti and Egregor, along with daily unnamed viruses, not only encrypt online files but also infiltrate any configured system backup. Information synchronized to the cloud can also be encrypted. In a poorly designed environment, it can render automated restore operations hopeless and basically knocks the entire system back to zero.

Retrieving programs and data following a crypto-ransomware intrusion becomes a sprint against the clock as the targeted business fights to stop the spread and clear the virus and to restore business-critical operations. Since ransomware requires time to move laterally, attacks are usually launched on weekends, when attacks in many cases take more time to detect. This multiplies the difficulty of quickly marshalling and coordinating an experienced mitigation team.

Progent has a variety of support services for protecting Brooklyn enterprises from ransomware attacks. These include team education to become familiar with and not fall victim to phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for endpoint detection and response utilizing SentinelOne's behavior-based threat defense to detect and quarantine day-zero modern malware assaults. Progent in addition offers the services of expert ransomware recovery professionals with the skills and perseverance to re-deploy a compromised system as urgently as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Support Services
After a crypto-ransomware event, sending the ransom in cryptocurrency does not ensure that merciless criminals will return the keys to decrypt all your information. Kaspersky determined that seventeen percent of ransomware victims never restored their files after having sent off the ransom, resulting in increased losses. The risk is also costly. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is significantly higher than the average crypto-ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be around $13,000 for small organizations. The fallback is to re-install the essential elements of your Information Technology environment. Absent access to essential system backups, this requires a wide complement of IT skills, well-coordinated project management, and the capability to work non-stop until the recovery project is finished.

For two decades, Progent has offered expert Information Technology services for companies throughout the U.S. and has earned Microsoft's Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts includes consultants who have earned top certifications in key technologies such as Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's security consultants have garnered internationally-recognized industry certifications including CISM, CISSP, CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise with accounting and ERP software solutions. This breadth of expertise gives Progent the skills to knowledgably understand important systems and consolidate the surviving parts of your computer network system following a crypto-ransomware attack and rebuild them into an operational system.

Progent's security team of experts deploys state-of-the-art project management applications to coordinate the sophisticated restoration process. Progent appreciates the urgency of working rapidly and in concert with a client's management and Information Technology resources to prioritize tasks and to put critical services back on-line as soon as possible.

Client Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Intrusion Recovery
A client sought out Progent after their organization was attacked by Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been launched by Northern Korean state sponsored hackers, suspected of adopting technology leaked from America's National Security Agency. Ryuk targets specific businesses with little or no ability to sustain disruption and is among the most profitable iterations of ransomware viruses. Well Known victims include Data Resolution, a California-based information warehousing and cloud computing company, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a regional manufacturing company based in Chicago and has around 500 employees. The Ryuk penetration had frozen all essential operations and manufacturing capabilities. The majority of the client's information backups had been on-line at the time of the attack and were encrypted. The client considered paying the ransom (in excess of two hundred thousand dollars) and hoping for the best, but ultimately brought in Progent.

"I cannot speak enough about the expertise Progent gave us during the most critical time of (our) company's existence. We most likely would have paid the hackers behind this attack if not for the confidence the Progent team provided us. The fact that you could get our e-mail system and essential applications back on-line quicker than seven days was something I thought impossible. Every single staff member I worked with or messaged at Progent was absolutely committed on getting my company operational and was working at all hours to bail us out."

Progent worked together with the client to rapidly understand and prioritize the essential services that had to be recovered to make it possible to restart company operations:

  • Active Directory
  • Electronic Messaging
  • MRP System
To get going, Progent followed Anti-virus incident mitigation best practices by isolating and disinfecting systems. Progent then initiated the steps of restoring Microsoft AD, the key technology of enterprise environments built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Microsoft Exchange email will not work without Windows AD, and the businesses' MRP system used Microsoft SQL Server, which depends on Active Directory services for authentication to the data.

In less than two days, Progent was able to re-build Active Directory services to its pre-intrusion state. Progent then charged ahead with setup and hard drive recovery of mission critical servers. All Exchange Server schema and configuration information were intact, which accelerated the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to locate local OST data files (Microsoft Outlook Offline Data Files) on user PCs to recover mail messages. A recent off-line backup of the customer's manufacturing software made it possible to restore these required applications back available to users. Although a large amount of work was left to recover totally from the Ryuk attack, the most important systems were returned to operations quickly:

"For the most part, the assembly line operation did not miss a beat and we did not miss any customer shipments."

Throughout the following few weeks critical milestones in the restoration process were achieved in close cooperation between Progent consultants and the customer:

  • In-house web applications were returned to operation with no loss of information.
  • The MailStore Exchange Server containing more than four million historical messages was brought online and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoices/AP/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory Control functions were 100% operational.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 firewall was set up.
  • Most of the desktop computers were functioning as before the incident.

"A lot of what was accomplished in the initial days is mostly a fog for me, but my management will not forget the countless hours all of you accomplished to give us our business back. I've been working with Progent for the past ten years, possibly more, and each time I needed help Progent has shined and delivered. This situation was a stunning achievement."

A possible business catastrophe was averted by dedicated experts, a broad spectrum of subject matter expertise, and tight teamwork. Although in post mortem the ransomware penetration described here could have been identified and prevented with modern cyber security solutions and best practices, user training, and properly executed security procedures for information backup and proper patching controls, the reality is that state-sponsored cybercriminals from China, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and are an ongoing threat. If you do get hit by a ransomware attack, feel confident that Progent's roster of experts has a proven track record in ransomware virus defense, cleanup, and file recovery.

"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Tony and Chris (and any others that were involved), thanks very much for allowing me to get some sleep after we got over the most critical parts. All of you did an impressive job, and if anyone is around the Chicago area, a great meal is the least I can do!"

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

Contact Progent for Ransomware System Recovery Expertise in Brooklyn
For ransomware system restoration services in the Brooklyn area, phone Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.

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