Crypto-Ransomware : Your Crippling Information Technology Catastrophe
Ransomware  Remediation ProfessionalsCrypto-Ransomware has become a too-frequent cyber pandemic that presents an existential danger for businesses of all sizes vulnerable to an assault. Versions of ransomware such as Dharma, Fusob, Bad Rabbit, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been replicating for many years and continue to cause havoc. Newer variants of ransomware such as Ryuk and Hermes, along with more as yet unnamed viruses, not only encrypt on-line files but also infect most configured system protection. Information synched to cloud environments can also be corrupted. In a poorly architected system, this can render automated restore operations impossible and basically knocks the entire system back to square one.

Getting back online programs and data after a ransomware event becomes a sprint against the clock as the targeted business tries its best to stop the spread and cleanup the ransomware and to resume business-critical operations. Due to the fact that ransomware needs time to spread, attacks are often sprung at night, when successful penetrations are likely to take longer to notice. This multiplies the difficulty of rapidly marshalling and organizing a qualified mitigation team.

Progent offers an assortment of solutions for protecting organizations from ransomware events. Among these are team member education to help identify and avoid phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, plus setup and configuration of next-generation security appliances with AI technology to automatically discover and quarantine zero-day threats. Progent also offers the assistance of experienced crypto-ransomware recovery engineers with the track record and perseverance to restore a compromised network as urgently as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Restoration Support Services
Following a ransomware attack, paying the ransom in cryptocurrency does not guarantee that cyber criminals will respond with the needed keys to unencrypt all your information. Kaspersky estimated that 17% of ransomware victims never restored their files even after having paid the ransom, resulting in more losses. The risk is also expensive. 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 approximately $13,000. The fallback is to setup from scratch the vital elements of your IT environment. Without access to essential system backups, this calls for a broad range of skill sets, well-coordinated project management, and the capability to work continuously until the recovery project is finished.

For decades, Progent has provided expert Information Technology services for companies in San Diego and across the United States and has achieved Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts includes consultants who have earned advanced certifications in key technologies such as Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's security consultants have garnered internationally-recognized certifications including CISM, CISSP-ISSAP, CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise in financial management and ERP applications. This breadth of experience affords Progent the capability to knowledgably ascertain necessary systems and organize the remaining components of your IT system following a crypto-ransomware penetration and assemble them into a functioning system.

Progent's security team of experts has best of breed project management applications to orchestrate the complex restoration process. Progent knows the urgency of acting quickly and in concert with a client's management and IT staff to assign priority to tasks and to put key applications back on line as soon as humanly possible.

Client Story: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Virus Recovery
A small business escalated to Progent after their company was brought down by the Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is believed to have been launched by Northern Korean government sponsored criminal gangs, possibly adopting algorithms exposed from the United States NSA organization. Ryuk goes after specific businesses with little or no room for disruption and is one of the most profitable versions of ransomware viruses. High publicized victims include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing company, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a small manufacturer based in Chicago and has about 500 staff members. The Ryuk penetration had frozen all company operations and manufacturing capabilities. The majority of the client's data protection had been on-line at the time of the intrusion and were destroyed. The client was taking steps for paying the ransom demand (exceeding two hundred thousand dollars) and hoping for good luck, but in the end called Progent.


"I cannot say enough about the support Progent provided us during the most critical period of (our) companyís survival. We most likely would have paid the Hackers except for the confidence the Progent team afforded us. The fact that you were able to get our e-mail and essential servers back on-line sooner than a week was something I thought impossible. Each staff member I talked with or messaged at Progent was laser focused on getting our company operational and was working at all hours on our behalf."

Progent worked with the client to rapidly assess and assign priority to the mission critical systems that had to be recovered in order to restart business functions:

  • Active Directory (AD)
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Accounting and Manufacturing Software
To start, Progent adhered to ransomware penetration mitigation industry best practices by halting lateral movement and clearing up compromised systems. Progent then started the steps of recovering Microsoft AD, the key technology of enterprise environments built upon Microsoft technology. Microsoft Exchange messaging will not operate without Windows AD, and the businessesí financials and MRP system utilized Microsoft SQL, which requires Active Directory services for access to the information.

Within 2 days, Progent was able to rebuild Active Directory services to its pre-intrusion state. Progent then assisted with reinstallations and storage recovery of needed applications. All Microsoft Exchange Server ties and attributes were usable, which facilitated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was also able to find intact OST files (Microsoft Outlook Off-Line Folder Files) on team workstations and laptops in order to recover mail messages. A recent off-line backup of the client's accounting software made it possible to recover these vital services back online. Although major work was left to recover totally from the Ryuk virus, core services were recovered quickly:


"For the most part, the assembly line operation survived unscathed and we produced all customer deliverables."

During the next couple of weeks important milestones in the recovery project were accomplished in tight cooperation between Progent consultants and the client:

  • Self-hosted web applications were brought back up with no loss of data.
  • The MailStore Server containing more than 4 million archived messages was restored to operations and available for users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoices/Accounts Payable (AP)/AR/Inventory modules were completely functional.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was installed and configured.
  • Ninety percent of the desktop computers were fully operational.

"A lot of what occurred in the initial days is nearly entirely a haze for me, but our team will not soon forget the urgency all of your team accomplished to give us our company back. Iíve entrusted Progent for the past ten years, maybe more, and every time I needed help Progent has shined and delivered as promised. This event was no exception but maybe more Herculean."

Conclusion
A potential business catastrophe was avoided by hard-working professionals, a broad spectrum of technical expertise, and tight teamwork. Although in hindsight the ransomware virus incident detailed here would have been disabled with current security systems and ISO/IEC 27001 best practices, team education, and appropriate security procedures for backup and applying software patches, the fact remains that state-sponsored cyber criminals from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and represent an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a ransomware incident, feel confident that Progent's team of experts has a proven track record in ransomware virus defense, mitigation, and data restoration.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (along with others who were involved), Iím grateful for allowing me to get rested after we got through the initial fire. Everyone did an impressive effort, and if anyone that helped is visiting the Chicago area, dinner is my treat!"

To review or download a PDF version of this customer story, click:
Progent's Ryuk Recovery Case Study Datasheet. (PDF - 282 KB)

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent can provide businesses in San Diego a portfolio of online monitoring and security evaluation services designed to assist you to minimize the threat from ransomware. These services include next-generation machine learning technology to detect zero-day variants of crypto-ransomware that are able to evade legacy signature-based security products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) is an endpoint protection (EPP) solution that incorporates next generation behavior machine learning tools to defend physical and virtual endpoints against modern malware attacks like ransomware and email phishing, which routinely get by legacy signature-based anti-virus tools. ProSight ASM protects local and cloud-based resources and offers a unified platform to address the complete malware attack progression including blocking, infiltration detection, containment, remediation, and forensics. Key features include one-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and real-time network-wide immunization against new threats. Read more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Endpoint Security and Exchange Email Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection managed services offer economical multi-layer protection for physical and virtual servers, workstations, mobile devices, and Microsoft Exchange. ProSight ESP utilizes contextual security and modern behavior analysis for continuously monitoring and reacting to cyber threats from all vectors. ProSight ESP offers two-way firewall protection, penetration alarms, endpoint management, and web filtering via cutting-edge tools incorporated within a single agent managed from a unified console. Progent's security and virtualization consultants can assist you to plan and configure a ProSight ESP deployment that meets your company's unique requirements and that helps you prove compliance with legal and industry data protection standards. Progent will assist you specify and configure policies that ProSight ESP will manage, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and respond to alarms that require immediate attention. Progent's consultants can also assist you to install and test a backup and restore solution like ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can get back in business quickly from a destructive cyber attack such as ransomware. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified endpoint protection and Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services from Progent provide small and medium-sized businesses a low cost end-to-end solution for reliable backup/disaster recovery. For a fixed monthly cost, ProSight Data Protection Services automates your backup activities and allows rapid recovery of critical files, apps and VMs that have become lost or damaged as a result of hardware failures, software bugs, natural disasters, human error, or malicious attacks such as ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you protect, recover and restore files, folders, applications, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware images/. Important data can be protected on the cloud, to an on-promises device, or mirrored to both. Progent's backup and recovery specialists can provide world-class expertise to configure ProSight DPS to to comply with government and industry regulatory standards such as HIPAA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, when necessary, can help you to restore your critical data. Find out more about ProSight DPS Managed Cloud Backup and Recovery.

  • ProSight Email Guard: Inbound and Outbound Spam Filtering and Data Leakage Protection
    ProSight Email Guard is Progent's spam and virus filtering and email encryption service that uses the infrastructure of top data security companies to provide centralized control and world-class protection for your inbound and outbound email. The powerful architecture of Email Guard combines cloud-based filtering with an on-premises security gateway device to offer advanced defense against spam, viruses, Denial of Service Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks, and other email-based threats. The Cloud Protection Layer acts as a first line of defense and keeps most unwanted email from reaching your security perimeter. This decreases your vulnerability to inbound threats and conserves system bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's on-premises security gateway appliance provides a deeper layer of inspection for inbound email. For outgoing email, the on-premises security gateway offers AV and anti-spam filtering, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The local gateway can also assist Microsoft Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard internal email traffic that originates and ends within your corporate firewall. For more information, see ProSight Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Infrastructure Management
    ProSight WAN Watch is a network infrastructure monitoring and management service that makes it easy and affordable for small and mid-sized organizations to map out, monitor, optimize and troubleshoot their connectivity hardware like routers, firewalls, and access points plus servers, client computers and other networked devices. Using state-of-the-art RMM technology, WAN Watch ensures that infrastructure topology diagrams are kept current, captures and displays the configuration information of almost all devices connected to your network, monitors performance, and sends notices when problems are discovered. By automating time-consuming management and troubleshooting processes, WAN Watch can cut hours off common chores like making network diagrams, expanding your network, locating appliances that need important software patches, or resolving performance problems. Find out more about ProSight WAN Watch network infrastructure monitoring and management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop monitoring managed service that incorporates advanced remote monitoring and management techniques to help keep your IT system operating at peak levels by checking the health of vital computers that power your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers an issue, an alert is sent automatically to your designated IT management staff and your Progent engineering consultant so that any potential problems can be addressed before they can disrupt productivity. Learn more details about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small business can have its critical servers and applications hosted in a secure Tier III data center on a fast virtual host set up and maintained by Progent's network support experts. With the ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the customer retains ownership of the data, the operating system software, and the applications. Since the system is virtualized, it can be moved immediately to an alternate hardware environment without a lengthy and technically risky reinstallation process. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not tied one hosting provider. Find out more about ProSight Virtual Hosting services.

  • ProSight IT Asset Management: Network Documentation Management
    ProSight IT Asset Management service is an IT infrastructure documentation management service that makes it easy to capture, maintain, find and protect data related to your network infrastructure, processes, business apps, and services. You can quickly locate passwords or serial numbers and be alerted automatically about upcoming expirations of SSL certificates or warranties. By cleaning up and organizing your IT documentation, you can save up to 50% of time wasted looking for critical information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a centralized repository for storing and sharing all documents related to managing your business network like standard operating procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also offers advanced automation for gathering and associating IT information. Whether youíre planning improvements, performing regular maintenance, or reacting to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the data you require as soon as you need it. Find out more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For 24/7 San Diego Ransomware Cleanup Consultants, contact Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.