Ransomware : Your Worst Information Technology Disaster
Ransomware  Remediation ConsultantsRansomware has become a too-frequent cyberplague that represents an extinction-level threat for businesses vulnerable to an assault. Different iterations of ransomware such as CrySIS, CryptoWall, Locky, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been around for years and continue to inflict damage. Newer variants of ransomware like Ryuk and Hermes, as well as additional as yet unnamed viruses, not only encrypt on-line critical data but also infect any available system backups. Information replicated to the cloud can also be rendered useless. In a poorly designed environment, it can make automatic recovery hopeless and effectively knocks the entire system back to square one.

Getting back applications and information after a ransomware outage becomes a race against time as the targeted organization fights to stop lateral movement and clear the ransomware and to restore enterprise-critical operations. Since ransomware takes time to spread, assaults are frequently sprung at night, when attacks in many cases take longer to identify. This multiplies the difficulty of quickly marshalling and coordinating a capable mitigation team.

Progent has a variety of help services for protecting enterprises from ransomware events. Among these are team education to become familiar with and not fall victim to phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, along with deployment of modern security gateways with machine learning capabilities to rapidly detect and quarantine new cyber threats. Progent in addition provides the assistance of seasoned ransomware recovery engineers with the talent and perseverance to re-deploy a compromised environment as urgently as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Services
Following a ransomware attack, paying the ransom in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not ensure that merciless criminals will respond with the needed codes to decipher any or all of your data. Kaspersky Labs ascertained that 17% of ransomware victims never restored their data even after having sent off the ransom, resulting in more losses. The gamble is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms often range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is significantly above the typical ransomware demands, which ZDNET averages to be around $13,000. The fallback is to setup from scratch the mission-critical parts of your IT environment. Without the availability of complete system backups, this requires a broad complement of skills, professional team management, and the ability to work non-stop until the recovery project is over.

For twenty years, Progent has made available expert IT services for companies in Broomfield and across the US 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 earned top industry certifications in key technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity engineers have garnered internationally-renowned certifications including CISA, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (Refer to Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise in financial management and ERP application software. This breadth of expertise provides Progent the skills to rapidly ascertain necessary systems and re-organize the surviving parts of your IT system following a crypto-ransomware attack and assemble them into a functioning network.

Progent's recovery team of experts uses state-of-the-art project management systems to orchestrate the complicated recovery process. Progent knows the urgency of acting rapidly and in unison with a customerís management and IT team members to prioritize tasks and to put essential services back on line as soon as possible.

Customer Case Study: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Attack Restoration
A client contacted Progent after their network was taken over by the Ryuk ransomware virus. Ryuk is generally considered to have been created by North Korean government sponsored criminal gangs, possibly adopting algorithms leaked from the U.S. National Security Agency. Ryuk targets specific businesses with little ability to sustain operational disruption and is one of the most lucrative examples of ransomware. High publicized organizations include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a single-location manufacturer located in Chicago and has around 500 workers. The Ryuk event had shut down all business operations and manufacturing processes. Most of the client's system backups had been directly accessible at the start of the attack and were destroyed. The client was pursuing financing for paying the ransom demand (in excess of $200,000) and hoping for good luck, but ultimately brought in Progent.


"I canít say enough in regards to the care Progent gave us throughout the most fearful period of (our) businesses existence. We had little choice but to pay the cybercriminals except for the confidence the Progent group afforded us. The fact that you could get our e-mail system and production applications back on-line faster than one week was earth shattering. Each person I spoke to or messaged at Progent was urgently focused on getting our system up and was working day and night to bail us out."

Progent worked with the customer to quickly identify and assign priority to the most important systems that had to be restored in order to restart departmental operations:

  • Microsoft Active Directory
  • Email
  • MRP System
To begin, Progent followed AV/Malware Processes incident response industry best practices by stopping the spread and removing active viruses. Progent then began the steps of recovering Active Directory, the core of enterprise systems built upon Microsoft Windows technology. Microsoft Exchange messaging will not work without Active Directory, and the businessesí MRP software utilized Microsoft SQL Server, which needs Active Directory services for access to the databases.

In less than two days, Progent was able to recover Windows Active Directory to its pre-virus state. Progent then assisted with rebuilding and hard drive recovery on essential systems. All Exchange schema and configuration information were usable, which facilitated the restore of Exchange. Progent was able to locate non-encrypted OST data files (Outlook Off-Line Folder Files) on team PCs and laptops to recover mail data. A recent offline backup of the customerís accounting software made it possible to restore these essential applications back online. Although major work remained to recover completely from the Ryuk attack, the most important services were recovered quickly:


"For the most part, the manufacturing operation was never shut down and we did not miss any customer sales."

Throughout the following couple of weeks critical milestones in the recovery project were accomplished through close cooperation between Progent consultants and the customer:

  • Internal web sites were brought back up with no loss of information.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server exceeding 4 million archived messages was spun up and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoices/Accounts Payable/AR/Inventory Control functions were 100 percent recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 security appliance was deployed.
  • Ninety percent of the user desktops and notebooks were operational.

"A lot of what occurred in the early hours is mostly a fog for me, but my management will not soon forget the care each and every one of you put in to give us our business back. I have utilized Progent for the past 10 years, possibly more, and every time Progent has shined and delivered as promised. This time was a Herculean accomplishment."

Conclusion
A possible business-ending catastrophe was avoided with top-tier professionals, a wide range of IT skills, and tight teamwork. Although in hindsight the crypto-ransomware penetration detailed here should have been disabled with current security solutions and security best practices, user training, and appropriate incident response procedures for information backup and proper patching controls, the reality remains that state-sponsored cyber criminals from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and are not going away. If you do fall victim to a ransomware incident, remember that Progent's roster of professionals has extensive experience in ransomware virus defense, remediation, and information systems recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (along with others who were contributing), thank you for letting me get rested after we got over the most critical parts. All of you did an fabulous effort, and if anyone that helped is in the Chicago area, a great meal is my treat!"

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

Additional Crypto-Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent can provide companies in Broomfield a range of remote monitoring and security assessment services designed to assist you to minimize the threat from ransomware. These services utilize modern machine learning capability to uncover new variants of crypto-ransomware that can evade legacy signature-based security products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection service that utilizes next generation behavior machine learning tools to guard physical and virtual endpoints against new malware attacks like ransomware and file-less exploits, which easily escape legacy signature-matching anti-virus products. ProSight Active Security Monitoring safeguards local and cloud-based resources and provides a single platform to manage the entire threat progression including filtering, infiltration detection, containment, remediation, and forensics. Top capabilities include single-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service and automatic network-wide immunization against newly discovered threats. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) endpoint protection and ransomware defense.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Physical and Virtual Endpoint Security and Microsoft Exchange Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection services deliver ultra-affordable multi-layer protection for physical servers and VMs, desktops, smartphones, and Microsoft Exchange. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and advanced machine learning for continuously monitoring and responding to cyber threats from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP delivers two-way firewall protection, intrusion alerts, device management, and web filtering through cutting-edge tools incorporated within a single agent accessible from a unified control. Progent's security and virtualization experts can assist your business to plan and implement a ProSight ESP environment that meets your organization's specific requirements and that helps you prove compliance with government and industry data security standards. Progent will assist you define and configure policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and respond to alarms that require immediate action. Progent can also assist your company to install and test a backup and disaster recovery system such as ProSight Data Protection Services so you can recover rapidly from a destructive security attack like ransomware. Read more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified physical and virtual endpoint security and Exchange filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services from Progent offer small and medium-sized organizations a low cost end-to-end service for secure backup/disaster recovery (BDR). For a low monthly price, ProSight DPS automates your backup processes and allows rapid restoration of critical data, apps and virtual machines that have become lost or corrupted as a result of hardware breakdowns, software bugs, disasters, human mistakes, or malware attacks like ransomware. ProSight DPS can help you protect, recover and restore files, folders, applications, system images, as well as Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware images/. Critical data can be backed up on the cloud, to an on-promises storage device, or mirrored to both. Progent's BDR specialists can provide world-class expertise to set up ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with government and industry regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, when necessary, can assist you to restore your business-critical data. Learn more about ProSight Data Protection Services Managed Cloud Backup.

  • ProSight Email Guard: Inbound and Outbound Spam Filtering and Data Leakage Protection
    ProSight Email Guard is Progent's spam filtering and email encryption service that incorporates the infrastructure of leading data security vendors to provide centralized control and comprehensive security for your inbound and outbound email. The powerful structure of Email Guard managed service integrates cloud-based filtering with an on-premises gateway appliance to offer advanced protection against spam, viruses, Denial of Service Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks, and other email-based threats. Email Guard's cloud filter acts as a first line of defense and blocks most unwanted email from making it to your network firewall. This reduces your vulnerability to inbound threats and saves network bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's on-premises security gateway appliance adds a deeper level of analysis for incoming email. For outbound email, the on-premises gateway offers AV and anti-spam filtering, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The on-premises gateway can also help Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard internal email that originates and ends inside your security perimeter. For more information, see Email Guard spam and content filtering.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Network Infrastructure Remote Monitoring and Management
    Progentís ProSight WAN Watch is a network infrastructure management service that makes it simple and inexpensive for smaller organizations to map, track, enhance and troubleshoot their networking appliances like routers and switches, firewalls, and wireless controllers as well as servers, printers, client computers and other networked devices. Using cutting-edge RMM technology, WAN Watch makes sure that network diagrams are kept updated, captures and displays the configuration information of almost all devices connected to your network, monitors performance, and generates alerts when potential issues are discovered. By automating tedious network management processes, WAN Watch can knock hours off ordinary tasks like making network diagrams, reconfiguring your network, finding devices that need critical software patches, or resolving performance problems. Find out more details about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop monitoring service that uses advanced remote monitoring and management (RMM) technology to help keep your network running efficiently by tracking the health of critical computers that drive your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers a problem, an alert is transmitted immediately to your specified IT management personnel and your assigned Progent engineering consultant so all looming problems can be addressed before they have a chance to disrupt your network. Learn more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring consulting.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size organization can have its critical servers and apps hosted in a protected fault tolerant data center on a high-performance virtual host configured and maintained by Progent's network support professionals. Under Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the client owns the data, the OS platforms, and the apps. Because the environment is virtualized, it can be ported easily to a different hosting environment without a time-consuming and technically risky configuration procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not locked into one hosting service. Find out more details about ProSight Virtual Hosting services.

  • ProSight IT Asset Management: Network Documentation Management
    ProSight IT Asset Management service is a cloud-based IT documentation management service that allows you to capture, update, find and protect data about your IT infrastructure, procedures, business apps, and services. You can instantly find passwords or IP addresses and be alerted automatically about impending expirations of SSLs ,domains or warranties. By updating and managing your IT infrastructure documentation, you can eliminate as much as 50% of time spent searching for critical information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a centralized location for holding and collaborating on all documents required for managing your business network like standard operating procedures (SOPs) and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also offers a high level of automation for collecting and associating IT information. Whether youíre planning improvements, performing regular maintenance, or reacting to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management gets you the data you need as soon as you need it. Read more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Broomfield 24-7 Crypto-Ransomware Cleanup Support Services, contact Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.