Ransomware : Your Worst Information Technology Catastrophe
Ransomware  Recovery ProfessionalsRansomware has become an escalating cyberplague that poses an enterprise-level danger for businesses of all sizes unprepared for an attack. Versions of ransomware such as Reveton, WannaCry, Locky, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been out in the wild for a long time and still inflict havoc. More recent versions of ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, LockBit and Egregor, along with daily unnamed newcomers, not only do encryption of on-line data files but also infiltrate all configured system backups. Data replicated to the cloud can also be corrupted. In a poorly designed system, this can render automatic restoration impossible and effectively sets the entire system back to zero.

Recovering programs and data after a ransomware outage becomes a race against time as the targeted business struggles to contain and clear the virus and to resume mission-critical activity. Since ransomware needs time to spread, assaults are often sprung during nights and weekends, when successful penetrations tend to take longer to discover. This compounds the difficulty of quickly mobilizing and organizing a qualified response team.

Progent makes available a variety of services for securing Cambridge businesses from ransomware events. Among these are team member training to help recognize and avoid phishing exploits, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for endpoint detection and response using SentinelOne's AI-based cyberthreat protection to identify and disable zero-day malware attacks. Progent also offers the services of seasoned ransomware recovery engineers with the talent and perseverance to rebuild a compromised network as urgently as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Restoration Help
Subsequent to a ransomware penetration, paying the ransom demands in cryptocurrency does not guarantee that merciless criminals will return the keys to decipher any of your files. Kaspersky Labs ascertained that seventeen percent of crypto-ransomware victims never restored their data after having sent off the ransom, resulting in increased losses. The risk is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms frequently range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well above the average ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be approximately $13,000 for small businesses. The other path is to setup from scratch the mission-critical components of your Information Technology environment. Absent the availability of complete system backups, this calls for a wide complement of skills, professional team management, and the willingness to work non-stop until the task is done.

For decades, Progent has offered professional IT services for businesses throughout the United States and has earned Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes engineers who have been awarded advanced certifications in leading technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity specialists have garnered internationally-renowned certifications including CISA, CISSP, CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent also has experience with accounting and ERP applications. This breadth of expertise gives Progent the ability to knowledgably ascertain important systems and integrate the surviving pieces of your computer network system following a ransomware attack and rebuild them into an operational network.

Progent's recovery team of experts has top notch project management tools to orchestrate the complicated recovery process. Progent understands the importance of acting rapidly and in concert with a customer's management and Information Technology team members to prioritize tasks and to put the most important applications back online as soon as possible.

Business Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Penetration Recovery
A client contacted Progent after their organization was crashed by Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been launched by Northern Korean government sponsored hackers, possibly using techniques leaked from the United States NSA organization. Ryuk goes after specific companies with limited room for operational disruption and is one of the most lucrative versions of ransomware viruses. High publicized organizations include Data Resolution, a California-based information warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a regional manufacturing company headquartered in the Chicago metro area with about 500 employees. The Ryuk intrusion had brought down all business operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's data backups had been on-line at the beginning of the intrusion and were damaged. The client was pursuing financing for paying the ransom (in excess of $200,000) and praying for the best, but ultimately engaged Progent.

"I can't say enough about the care Progent provided us throughout the most critical period of (our) company's life. We had little choice but to pay the cybercriminals except for the confidence the Progent team afforded us. The fact that you could get our e-mail and essential servers back into operation in less than one week was incredible. Each expert I spoke to or texted at Progent was absolutely committed on getting us back online and was working 24/7 on our behalf."

Progent worked together with the client to quickly get our arms around and prioritize the critical applications that needed to be recovered to make it possible to resume departmental operations:

  • Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange Email
  • MRP System
To get going, Progent adhered to ransomware event mitigation industry best practices by halting lateral movement and disinfecting systems. Progent then initiated the process of bringing back online Windows Active Directory, the key technology of enterprise environments built on Microsoft Windows technology. Microsoft Exchange Server email will not operate without Active Directory, and the customer's MRP applications utilized Microsoft SQL, which depends on Active Directory for access to the database.

Within 2 days, Progent was able to restore Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then assisted with setup and hard drive recovery of critical applications. All Exchange ties and configuration information were intact, which greatly helped the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was also able to find intact OST files (Outlook Off-Line Data Files) on staff PCs in order to recover mail data. A not too old off-line backup of the customer's financials/MRP systems made it possible to recover these essential applications back online for users. Although significant work needed to be completed to recover completely from the Ryuk damage, core services were returned to operations quickly:

"For the most part, the production manufacturing operation ran fairly normal throughout and we produced all customer deliverables."

Throughout the next couple of weeks key milestones in the restoration project were completed in close collaboration between Progent engineers and the customer:

  • In-house web applications were brought back up with no loss of data.
  • The MailStore Server containing more than 4 million historical emails was restored to operations and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoicing/Accounts Payable (AP)/Accounts Receivables/Inventory Control modules were completely restored.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 firewall was installed.
  • Most of the user desktops were being used by staff.

"Much of what went on that first week is mostly a fog for me, but my management will not soon forget the dedication each and every one of your team accomplished to give us our company back. I have entrusted Progent for the past ten years, possibly more, and every time Progent has come through and delivered as promised. This time was a life saver."

A possible business-ending disaster was evaded through the efforts of hard-working experts, a broad spectrum of subject matter expertise, and tight collaboration. Although in post mortem the crypto-ransomware virus incident detailed here could have been blocked with up-to-date security technology solutions and security best practices, team training, and well thought out incident response procedures for backup and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the reality is that state-sponsored criminal cyber gangs from China, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and will continue. If you do get hit by a ransomware attack, feel confident that Progent's team of professionals has a proven track record in ransomware virus defense, mitigation, and information systems recovery.

"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Tony and Chris (and any others that were contributing), thanks very much for making it so I could get some sleep after we made it over the most critical parts. All of you did an amazing effort, and if anyone that helped is in the Chicago area, dinner is the least I can do!"

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

Contact Progent for Ransomware System Restoration Consulting in Cambridge
For ransomware system recovery consulting in the Cambridge metro area, phone Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.

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