Ransomware : Your Worst IT Disaster
Crypto-Ransomware  Recovery ExpertsRansomware has become a too-frequent cyber pandemic that presents an extinction-level danger for businesses unprepared for an assault. Different iterations of ransomware such as CryptoLocker, WannaCry, Bad Rabbit, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been around for a long time and still cause havoc. Modern versions of crypto-ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, Conti and Nephilim, plus additional unnamed newcomers, not only do encryption of on-line data but also infiltrate any available system protection. Files synchronized to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be ransomed. In a poorly designed environment, this can make any restore operations useless and basically knocks the datacenter back to square one.

Recovering applications and data following a ransomware event becomes a race against the clock as the victim struggles to contain and eradicate the crypto-ransomware and to restore business-critical operations. Because ransomware requires time to spread, penetrations are often sprung during weekends and nights, when successful attacks may take more time to identify. This compounds the difficulty of rapidly mobilizing and coordinating a knowledgeable response team.

Progent has an assortment of services for securing Buffalo enterprises from crypto-ransomware events. Among these are team training to become familiar with and not fall victim to phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, plus installation of modern security solutions with AI technology to automatically detect and quarantine new threats. Progent in addition can provide the assistance of expert ransomware recovery engineers with the skills and commitment to restore a compromised environment as rapidly as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Recovery Services
Soon after a ransomware event, paying the ransom in cryptocurrency does not guarantee that criminal gangs will respond with the codes to unencrypt all your information. Kaspersky determined that 17% of crypto-ransomware victims never recovered their data even after having sent off the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The risk is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms frequently range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is significantly higher than the average ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be around $13,000 for smaller organizations. The alternative is to setup from scratch the mission-critical elements of your IT environment. Without access to complete information backups, this requires a broad range of skills, well-coordinated project management, and the capability to work continuously until the job is done.

For two decades, Progent has provided professional Information Technology services for businesses across the United States and has achieved Microsoft's Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes engineers who have attained top industry certifications in important technologies such as Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's security engineers have garnered internationally-recognized certifications including CISM, CISSP-ISSAP, CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has experience with financial management and ERP applications. This breadth of expertise gives Progent the skills to rapidly understand necessary systems and re-organize the surviving parts of your IT environment after a crypto-ransomware event and assemble them into an operational network.

Progent's recovery team utilizes top notch project management systems to coordinate the complex recovery process. Progent knows the importance of working swiftly and together with a customerís management and Information Technology team members to prioritize tasks and to get key systems back online as fast as humanly possible.

Customer Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Attack Response
A customer contacted Progent after their company was crashed by the Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is thought to have been launched by Northern Korean government sponsored criminal gangs, possibly using technology exposed from the United States NSA organization. Ryuk goes after specific companies with limited room for operational disruption and is one of the most profitable examples of ransomware malware. Headline targets include Data Resolution, a California-based information warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a single-location manufacturer headquartered in Chicago with around 500 employees. The Ryuk attack had frozen all business operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's data backups had been on-line at the start of the attack and were encrypted. The client was actively seeking loans for paying the ransom (in excess of two hundred thousand dollars) and hoping for the best, but in the end called Progent.


"I canít say enough in regards to the support Progent gave us throughout the most stressful time of (our) companyís life. We most likely would have paid the cyber criminals behind the attack except for the confidence the Progent group provided us. That you were able to get our e-mail system and production applications back online faster than five days was beyond my wildest dreams. Each consultant I got help from or texted at Progent was hell bent on getting us restored and was working 24/7 to bail us out."

Progent worked with the client to quickly get our arms around and assign priority to the mission critical applications that had to be recovered in order to continue departmental functions:

  • Windows Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Financials/MRP
To get going, Progent adhered to Anti-virus event mitigation industry best practices by isolating and removing active viruses. Progent then began the process of restoring Microsoft Active Directory, the foundation of enterprise networks built upon Microsoft Windows technology. Microsoft Exchange Server messaging will not operate without AD, and the businessesí accounting and MRP applications used Microsoft SQL Server, which requires Windows AD for security authorization to the data.

In less than 48 hours, Progent was able to restore Windows Active Directory to its pre-virus state. Progent then initiated rebuilding and storage recovery on needed systems. All Microsoft Exchange Server data and attributes were usable, which accelerated the restore of Exchange. Progent was able to assemble local OST data files (Microsoft Outlook Off-Line Data Files) on user workstations and laptops in order to recover mail messages. A not too old offline backup of the customerís manufacturing software made it possible to restore these required applications back online. Although major work needed to be completed to recover totally from the Ryuk attack, core services were recovered rapidly:


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

Over the following month critical milestones in the restoration project were completed through close cooperation between Progent engineers and the customer:

  • Internal web applications were brought back up with no loss of information.
  • The MailStore Server exceeding 4 million archived emails was spun up and available for users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoicing/Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory functions were 100 percent functional.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 firewall was brought on-line.
  • Nearly all of the user desktops were functioning as before the incident.

"Much of what happened in the early hours is nearly entirely a fog for me, but my team will not soon forget the care each and every one of your team accomplished to give us our business back. Iíve trusted Progent for the past ten years, maybe more, and each time Progent has shined and delivered as promised. This event was no exception but maybe more Herculean."

Conclusion
A probable business-ending disaster was dodged due to results-oriented professionals, a wide range of knowledge, and close teamwork. Although in retrospect the ransomware penetration detailed here could have been stopped with modern security systems and best practices, user and IT administrator training, and properly executed incident response procedures for backup and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the fact is that state-sponsored cybercriminals from China, Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and represent an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a ransomware incident, remember that Progent's team of professionals has a proven track record in ransomware virus blocking, cleanup, and file recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (along with others who were helping), thanks very much for letting me get some sleep after we got over the first week. All of you did an incredible effort, and if anyone is in the Chicago area, dinner is on me!"

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

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    Progent's Meraki wireless access point experts offer online and on-premises support services to help businesses of all sizes to plan, deploy, maintain, expand or troubleshoot Wi-Fi networks that utilize Cisco Meraki wireless access points. Progent can help you to set up and support Cisco's Meraki-based Wi-Fi infrastructure for environments that range from a teleworker's home or a branch office to a campus or a nationwide enterprise. Progent can also assist you to configure additional Cisco technology including switches, ASR routers and ASA firewalls to build a cohesive ecosystem that provides the same connectivity, responsiveness, security, ease of management and availability for wired and wireless users regardless of their mobility or computing device.

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    Remote server management cards give IT managers full control of a server without the need for an on-site visit. Using remote server management cards, all console screen information plus keyboard and mouse functionality are transferred to an off-site session to a support expert who can be located anywhere in the world. Progent's Microsoft and Cisco authorized consultants can assist you to plan, implement, and support a high-availability company network that incorporates remote management cards and Progent can utilize these remote management cards to deliver low-cost off-site technical help. Progent is familiar with a variety of remote server management cards including Aten remote server management cards, American Megatrends MegaRAC remote management cards, Dell DRAC cards, HP Lights-Out 100c remote server management cards, and Peppercon remote management cards.

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    Support and Help Small Business

    If you have a company network with 10 to 50 network clients, Progent's computer outsourcing services save your organization from over-reliance on single freelance service provider while giving you cost-effective and dependable access to high-quality technical support. By providing IT consulting help when you need it, providing advanced expertise for key technologies, delivering value-added support such as automated server monitoring, and billing only for support you use, Progent gives you an economical solution for optimizing the business value of your small business network. Progent is the smart way for small organizations to create and support a robust and secure information network and to have fast access to the skilled help ordinarily restricted to businesses who are able to afford a large internal IT organization.

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    Progent is one of the most expert information technology support companies for creating e-mail solutions based on Microsoft Exchange 2000. Progent is skilled in helping small businesses get all the benefits of Exchange 2000 under typical situations including updating from Microsoft Exchange 5.5, migration from an ISP-based or POP3 e-mail environment, and jobbing out your Microsoft Exchange 2000 administration.

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    Microsoft Exchange and Apple Mac computers can work together efficiently. Progent's Mac and Microsoft certified consultants can help you set up Microsoft Entourage and Microsoft Exchange Server so your Mac users can work closely with teammates who use Outlook. With Microsoft Exchange and Entourage for Mac, Exchange and Apple Macintosh software can collaborate, allowing Mac users to receive and transmit email, search the GAL, copy addresses, sync up calendars, and alert people to meetings via your Exchange account. Progent will verify that your Exchange Server is properly configured and that WebDAV and Outlook Web Access are working. Progent also offers specialized onsite Entourage education.

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    Progent believes that a well architected and implemented network is a pivotal piece for enabling a company's success, and Progent applies this belief in our corporate network environment. Progent has created a zero-downtime virtual office network that enables our staff consultants and certified contractors to offer rapid and efficient service, cooperate easily on sophisticated jobs, and gain from professional and personal maturity by being a member of a dynamic business culture of self motivation and independence.

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    Progent's ISSAP Certified security consultants, or Information Systems Security Architecture Professionals, are consultants who have been awarded ISSAP status as a result of rigorous testing and significant experience with information security architecture. ISSAP consultants possess in-depth knowledge of access control mechanisms and techniques, phone system and network infrastructure security, cryptography, needs evaluation, business continuity and disaster recovery planning (DRP), and physical security integration. Progent's ISSAP-certified security consultants can assist your company with all phases of secure network architecture.

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  • Top Rated Integration Support SQL 2008
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    SQL Server 2008 offers indispensable, standardized tools to computer experts as well as to information workers, lessening the complexity of designing, deploying, administering, and using enterprise data and analytical programs in environments ranging from mobile devices to corporate information systems. The complexity and interconnectivity requirements of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 require an IT consulting firm with real-world experience and broad knowledge in designing and deploying data-driven, end-to-end business IT solutions. The experience of Progent's Microsoft-certified technical team, with an average of over 10 years of background supporting Microsoft technology, assures you success in designing, configuring and supporting Microsoft SQL Server 2008 solutions that are well integrated with the Microsoft .NET platform.

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    24-Hour Computer Network Specialists Microsoft Windows

    To provide cost-effective network services for small companies, Progent has developed full-service computer outsourcing plans that offer small businesses fast access to network expertise without requiring you to recruit, train, and maintain a large in-house computer support team. Progentís IT outsourcing services give you an economical way for building a secure and reliable system for your important Windows business productivity suites such as Microsoft Office XP and Microsoft Office 2003.

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  • Windows 10 Upgrade Specialist
    Microsoft Windows 10 Services

    Progent's Microsoft-certified consulting experts can assist businesses of any size to evaluate Windows 10 or to upgrade to Windows 10 from an earlier version of Microsoft Windows. Online and on-premises assessment and upgrade services for Microsoft Windows 10 offered by Progent's consultants include Return on Investment analysis, project management, compatibility testing, test lab systems, Hyper-V virtualization strategies, Cloud solutions, mobile management, telecommuter connectivity, data and identity security, streamlined provisioning and management, infrastructure optimization, wired/wireless convergence, disaster recovery planning, group and personal training for IT support personnel and end users, and post-migration Call Center support services.

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    Progent's Jabber consultants can provide remote or on-premises support to assist businesses of any size to design, implement, maintain, upgrade or troubleshoot Cisco Jabber solutions and Cisco Unified Communications Manager ecosystems. Progent can provide advanced support for all the technologies that make up creating an end-to-end Cisco Jabber collaboration solution including Cisco network appliances and management tools, Microsoft Office apps, Windows and Mac desktops, iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, SIP trunking, WiFi networks, cyber security, cloud integration, telepresence systems, PBX systems, disaster recovery preparedness, and other components of a cohesive collaboration ecosystem.

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    MCSE Expert Certified Exchange Server Migration Consulting Services

    Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can provide affordable remote and onsite support to carry out your upgrade to Exchange Server 2010, produce thorough documentation of your new messaging system, train your IT team and users to get them up to speed rapidly on Exchange Server 2010, and provide continuing administrative services and technical help. Progent can also help you migrate from Exchange Server 2010 to Exchange 2013 or Exchange Server 2016.

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  • Microsoft Teams PBX integration Consult
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    Progent can help you to design an upgrade to Teams from Skype for Business or Lync Server and configure, manage, and debug a cloud-based or mixed implementation of Microsoft Teams. Progent can assist you to integrate Teams with Office/Microsoft 365 apps, Exchange Online, SharePoint, and your PSTN gateway.

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  • Technology Consulting Catalyst Switch VLAN
    Catalyst 3850 Switch Network Engineer

    With the Catalyst line of switches for small and medium-sized companies, Cisco enables organizations to gain the full advantages of adding intelligence to their networks. Cisco's switching product line makes it possible to enable features to make your network infrastructure sufficiently robust to handle real-time needs, expandable to support growth, secure enough to protect restricted information, and capable of differentiating and managing all traffic to streamline system performance. Progent's CCIE and CCNP certified engineers can show you how to pick out and deploy Cisco Catalyst switches that make sense for your company. Also, Progent's CISM and CISA certified security specialists can help you develop a comprehensive security plan and set up Catalyst switches so they help enforce your security strategy. Cisco Catalyst switches that Progent supports include the Cisco Catalyst 2960 switches, Catalyst 3750 switches, Catalyst 4948 switches, and Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switches.


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