Ransomware : Your Worst IT Nightmare
Crypto-Ransomware  Remediation ProfessionalsCrypto-Ransomware has become a too-frequent cyberplague that presents an enterprise-level threat for businesses vulnerable to an assault. Different iterations of crypto-ransomware like the CrySIS, WannaCry, Locky, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been replicating for years and continue to inflict destruction. More recent strains of ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, Conti or Nephilim, along with daily as yet unnamed malware, not only encrypt on-line data files but also infiltrate any configured system protection. Information synchronized to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be encrypted. In a vulnerable system, this can render automatic restoration impossible and effectively sets the datacenter back to square one.

Getting back services and data after a ransomware event becomes a sprint against the clock as the targeted business struggles to stop the spread and cleanup the crypto-ransomware and to restore enterprise-critical operations. Because ransomware requires time to replicate, assaults are often sprung during weekends and nights, when attacks may take more time to recognize. This compounds the difficulty of quickly assembling and organizing a qualified response team.

Progent offers a variety of solutions for securing organizations from ransomware events. These include team training to help identify and avoid phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, in addition to deployment of the latest generation security gateways with AI capabilities from SentinelOne to identify and extinguish zero-day threats automatically. Progent also offers the services of seasoned crypto-ransomware recovery engineers with the talent and perseverance to restore a breached network as soon as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Restoration Services
Following a crypto-ransomware attack, sending the ransom demands in cryptocurrency does not provide any assurance that cyber criminals will respond with the needed keys to decrypt any of your information. Kaspersky Labs ascertained that seventeen percent of crypto-ransomware victims never recovered their information after having paid the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The risk is also costly. Ryuk ransoms frequently range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly higher than the typical ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be around $13,000. The other path is to setup from scratch the mission-critical elements of your IT environment. Absent access to complete system backups, this requires a wide complement of IT skills, well-coordinated project management, and the willingness to work continuously until the task is over.

For twenty years, Progent has made available expert Information Technology services for companies in Columbus and across the U.S. and has achieved Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes engineers who have attained advanced industry certifications in foundation technologies such as Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's security experts have earned internationally-recognized certifications including CISM, CISSP-ISSAP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (Refer to Progent's certifications). Progent also has expertise in accounting and ERP software solutions. This breadth of experience provides Progent the skills to rapidly understand important systems and re-organize the surviving parts of your computer network system following a ransomware penetration and configure them into a functioning network.

Progent's security team deploys best of breed project management applications to coordinate the sophisticated recovery process. Progent understands the urgency of acting quickly and together with a client's management and IT resources to assign priority to tasks and to put key services back on-line as fast as possible.

Business Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Virus Recovery
A customer contacted Progent after their network system was penetrated by the Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is believed to have been launched by Northern Korean government sponsored hackers, suspected of adopting algorithms exposed from America's National Security Agency. Ryuk targets specific organizations with limited ability to sustain disruption and is one of the most lucrative incarnations of ransomware. Major targets include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a single-location manufacturing company based in the Chicago metro area with around 500 staff members. The Ryuk penetration had brought down all company operations and manufacturing processes. Most of the client's system backups had been online at the time of the intrusion and were damaged. The client considered paying the ransom demand (in excess of two hundred thousand dollars) and wishfully thinking for good luck, but in the end reached out to Progent.


"I cannot speak enough about the help Progent provided us throughout the most stressful time of (our) company's survival. We had little choice but to pay the cybercriminals if not for the confidence the Progent team provided us. That you were able to get our messaging and production servers back into operation faster than a week was something I thought impossible. Each expert I interacted with or messaged at Progent was totally committed on getting our system up and was working 24 by 7 to bail us out."

Progent worked hand in hand the client to rapidly assess and prioritize the essential systems that had to be recovered to make it possible to restart business functions:

  • Active Directory (AD)
  • Electronic Mail
  • MRP System
To get going, Progent adhered to Anti-virus penetration response best practices by isolating and cleaning systems of viruses. Progent then initiated the task of bringing back online Microsoft Active Directory, the foundation of enterprise systems built on Microsoft technology. Microsoft Exchange messaging will not operate without Windows AD, and the customer's financials and MRP software utilized Microsoft SQL Server, which depends on Active Directory for access to the database.

In less than 48 hours, Progent was able to recover Active Directory services to its pre-virus state. Progent then charged ahead with setup and hard drive recovery of mission critical servers. All Exchange data and attributes were intact, which accelerated the restore of Exchange. Progent was able to find intact OST files (Outlook Off-Line Folder Files) on team PCs to recover mail messages. A not too old offline backup of the businesses accounting software made them able to recover these vital programs back on-line. Although major work still had to be done to recover fully from the Ryuk damage, core services were returned to operations rapidly:


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

During the next month critical milestones in the recovery project were completed in tight collaboration between Progent engineers and the customer:

  • Self-hosted web sites were restored without losing any data.
  • The MailStore Exchange Server with over 4 million archived messages was restored to operations and available for users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoices/Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory Control capabilities were fully recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was set up.
  • Ninety percent of the user workstations were being used by staff.

"So much of what happened those first few days is mostly a haze for me, but I will not forget the dedication each of your team put in to give us our company back. I have been working together with Progent for at least 10 years, maybe more, and every time I needed help Progent has impressed me and delivered as promised. This situation was no exception but maybe more Herculean."

Conclusion
A probable business-killing catastrophe was avoided by top-tier experts, a wide spectrum of knowledge, and tight teamwork. Although upon completion of forensics the ransomware virus incident detailed here should have been identified and stopped with modern security systems and NIST Cybersecurity Framework best practices, user education, and appropriate incident response procedures for backup and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the reality is that government-sponsored cyber criminals from China, Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and are an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a ransomware incident, remember that Progent's team of experts has a proven track record in ransomware virus blocking, mitigation, and file disaster recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (along with others who were involved), thank you for making it so I could get some sleep after we made it past the most critical parts. All of you did an incredible job, and if anyone that helped is in the Chicago area, a great meal is on me!"

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

Additional Crypto-Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent can provide companies in Columbus a range of remote monitoring and security evaluation services designed to assist you to minimize your vulnerability to crypto-ransomware. These services include next-generation AI capability to detect zero-day variants of crypto-ransomware that can escape detection by traditional signature-based anti-virus solutions.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) is an endpoint protection (EPP) service that utilizes SentinelOne's cutting edge behavior-based analysis tools to defend physical and virtual endpoint devices against new malware assaults like ransomware and file-less exploits, which routinely get by legacy signature-matching AV tools. ProSight Active Security Monitoring safeguards local and cloud-based resources and provides a unified platform to manage the entire threat lifecycle including filtering, identification, mitigation, cleanup, and post-attack forensics. Key capabilities include one-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and real-time network-wide immunization against new attacks. Progent is a SentinelOne Partner, reseller, and integrator. Read more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Physical and Virtual Endpoint Security and Exchange Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) managed services offer affordable multi-layer security for physical servers and VMs, desktops, smartphones, and Microsoft Exchange. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and advanced machine learning for round-the-clock monitoring and responding to security threats from all vectors. ProSight ESP delivers two-way firewall protection, penetration alarms, endpoint control, and web filtering through leading-edge technologies incorporated within one agent managed from a single control. Progent's security and virtualization consultants can help you to design and implement a ProSight ESP deployment that addresses your company's specific needs and that allows you achieve and demonstrate compliance with legal and industry data protection standards. Progent will help you specify and implement policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and react to alarms that require immediate attention. Progent can also help you to set up and verify a backup and disaster recovery solution like ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can recover quickly from a destructive cyber attack like ransomware. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified physical and virtual endpoint security and Exchange filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS): Backup and Recovery Services
    Progent has partnered with leading backup software providers to produce ProSight Data Protection Services, a portfolio of management offerings that deliver backup-as-a-service. ProSight DPS services manage and track your data backup operations and enable transparent backup and fast restoration of critical files/folders, applications, system images, and Hyper-V and VMware virtual machines. ProSight DPS lets your business avoid data loss caused by hardware failures, natural disasters, fire, malware such as ransomware, user error, ill-intentioned insiders, or software glitches. Managed backup services in the ProSight DPS product line include ProSight Altaro VM Backup, ProSight 365 Total Backup (formerly Altaro 365 Backup), ProSight DPS ECHO Backup based on Barracuda dedicated storage, and ProSight DPS MSP360 Hybrid Backup. Your Progent service representative can assist you to determine which of these managed backup services are most appropriate for your IT environment.

  • ProSight Email Guard: Inbound and Outbound Spam Filtering and Data Leakage Protection
    ProSight Email Guard is Progent's spam filtering service that uses the technology of top information security vendors to provide centralized management and world-class security for your email traffic. The hybrid structure of Email Guard integrates a Cloud Protection Layer with a local security gateway device to provide complete protection against spam, viruses, Dos Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks, and other email-borne threats. Email Guard's cloud filter serves as a preliminary barricade and keeps most unwanted email from making it to your network firewall. This reduces your exposure to inbound attacks and saves network bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's onsite security gateway device provides a deeper layer of analysis for incoming email. For outbound email, the local gateway offers AV and anti-spam filtering, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The onsite gateway can also help Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard internal email traffic that stays within your security perimeter. For more information, see ProSight Email Guard spam and content filtering.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Network Infrastructure Management
    Progent's ProSight WAN Watch is a network infrastructure monitoring and management service that makes it easy and inexpensive for smaller organizations to diagram, track, enhance and debug their connectivity hardware like routers, firewalls, and load balancers as well as servers, endpoints and other devices. Using state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management technology, ProSight WAN Watch ensures that network diagrams are kept updated, copies and manages the configuration of virtually all devices on your network, tracks performance, and generates notices when problems are discovered. By automating time-consuming management and troubleshooting processes, WAN Watch can knock hours off ordinary chores such as network mapping, expanding your network, locating appliances that need important updates, or isolating performance problems. Find out more about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progent's server and desktop monitoring managed service that uses advanced remote monitoring and management (RMM) techniques to keep your IT system running at peak levels by checking the state of critical computers that drive your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers a problem, an alert is transmitted automatically to your designated IT staff and your Progent consultant so any looming problems can be addressed before they have a chance to impact productivity. Find out more details about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's World-class Data Center
    With 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 fast virtual host set up and managed by Progent's network support experts. With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service model, the client owns the data, the OS platforms, and the apps. Because the system is virtualized, it can be ported easily to an alternate hosting solution without a time-consuming and technically risky configuration procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not locked into one hosting provider. Learn more about ProSight Virtual Hosting services.

  • ProSight IT Asset Management: Network Documentation Management
    Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service is an IT infrastructure documentation management service that makes it easy to create, maintain, find and protect data about your IT infrastructure, procedures, business apps, and services. You can quickly find passwords or serial numbers and be alerted about impending expirations of SSL certificates or domains. By updating and organizing your network documentation, you can save as much as half of time thrown away looking for critical information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a common location for holding and collaborating on all documents required for managing your business network such as standard operating procedures (SOPs) and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also offers advanced automation for collecting and relating IT information. Whether you're planning improvements, doing regular maintenance, or reacting to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the knowledge you require the instant you need it. Find out more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.

  • Progent Active Protection Against Ransomware: Machine Learning-based Ransomware Identification and Cleanup
    Progent's Active Protection Against Ransomware is an endpoint protection solution that utilizes cutting edge behavior-based machine learning tools to defend endpoint devices and servers and VMs against new malware assaults like ransomware and file-less exploits, which routinely get by traditional signature-based anti-virus products. Progent ASM services safeguard local and cloud resources and offers a single platform to automate the complete threat lifecycle including filtering, infiltration detection, mitigation, remediation, and post-attack forensics. Key capabilities include single-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service and real-time system-wide immunization against newly discovered attacks. Learn more about Progent's ransomware defense and recovery services.

  • Progent's Outsourced/Shared Service Desk: Support Desk Managed Services
    Progent's Call Desk services allow your information technology group to offload Support Desk services to Progent or split responsibilities for support services seamlessly between your internal network support resources and Progent's nationwide roster of certified IT service technicians, engineers and subject matter experts. Progent's Shared Help Desk Service offers a transparent supplement to your corporate network support resources. User interaction with the Help Desk, provision of technical assistance, problem escalation, ticket creation and updates, efficiency metrics, and management of the support database are cohesive whether issues are resolved by your corporate IT support staff, by Progent, or by a combination. Learn more about Progent's outsourced/shared Call Center services.

  • Progent's Patch Management: Patch Management Services
    Progent's support services for software and firmware patch management provide businesses of any size a flexible and cost-effective solution for evaluating, testing, scheduling, implementing, and tracking updates to your ever-evolving information system. Besides optimizing the security and reliability of your IT network, Progent's patch management services permit your in-house IT staff to focus on line-of-business projects and activities that deliver maximum business value from your network. Learn more about Progent's patch management support services.

  • ProSight Duo Two-Factor Authentication: Access Security, Endpoint Policy Enforcement, and Secure Single Sign-on
    Progent's Duo authentication services utilize Cisco's Duo cloud technology to protect against password theft by using two-factor authentication. Duo enables one-tap identity verification on iOS, Android, and other out-of-band devices. With Duo 2FA, when you sign into a protected application and give your password you are requested to verify your identity via a unit that only you possess and that uses a separate network channel. A wide selection of devices can be used for this added means of ID validation such as an iPhone or Android or wearable, a hardware token, a landline phone, etc. You may register several verification devices. For details about ProSight Duo two-factor identity validation services, visit Duo MFA two-factor authentication services.

  • ProSight Reporting: Real-time Reporting for Ticketing and Network Monitoring Applications
    ProSight Reporting is a growing family of real-time reporting tools created to work with the leading ticketing and remote network monitoring platforms such as ConnectWise Manage, ConnectWise Automate, Customer Thermometer, Auvik, and SentinelOne. ProSight Reporting incorporates Microsoft Graph and features color coding to highlight and contextualize critical issues like inconsistent support follow-up or endpoints with missing patches. By exposing ticketing or network health concerns clearly and in near-real time, ProSight Reporting enhances productivity, reduces management overhead, and saves money. For more information, visit ProSight Reporting for ticketing and network monitoring platforms.
For 24x7 Columbus CryptoLocker Remediation Help, call Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.