Ransomware : Your Feared IT Nightmare
Crypto-Ransomware  Remediation ConsultantsRansomware has become an escalating cyberplague that presents an extinction-level danger for organizations poorly prepared for an attack. Versions of ransomware like the Reveton, Fusob, Locky, Syskey and MongoLock cryptoworms have been circulating for a long time and continue to cause destruction. More recent strains of ransomware such as Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, Conti and Nephilim, plus daily unnamed viruses, not only encrypt on-line information but also infect any configured system protection mechanisms. Information replicated to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be rendered useless. In a poorly designed system, this can make automatic recovery impossible and basically sets the entire system back to square one.

Retrieving programs and information following a ransomware outage becomes a race against the clock as the targeted business struggles to contain the damage and remove the ransomware and to resume mission-critical operations. Since crypto-ransomware needs time to replicate, assaults are usually sprung on weekends, when successful penetrations typically take more time to recognize. This compounds the difficulty of quickly mobilizing and orchestrating a capable response team.

Progent makes available a variety of solutions for securing Boston businesses from ransomware attacks. These include team education to become familiar with and avoid phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for endpoint detection and response (EDR) using SentinelOne's AI-based cyberthreat defense to detect and extinguish day-zero malware attacks. Progent also offers the assistance of veteran crypto-ransomware recovery consultants with the skills and perseverance to reconstruct a breached network as quickly as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Services
Soon after a crypto-ransomware event, paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not provide any assurance that distant criminals will return the needed keys to decipher any of your files. Kaspersky ascertained that 17% of ransomware victims never restored their files even after having paid the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The risk is also costly. Ryuk ransoms often range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly higher than the usual ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be around $13,000 for smaller businesses. The alternative is to piece back together the essential components of your Information Technology environment. Absent access to full information backups, this calls for a wide complement of skill sets, top notch team management, and the capability to work continuously until the job is finished.

For twenty years, Progent has offered certified expert IT services for businesses throughout 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 (SMEs) includes engineers who have earned top certifications in foundation technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity experts have earned internationally-renowned industry certifications including CISM, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent also has experience with financial management and ERP application software. This breadth of experience affords Progent the ability to efficiently ascertain necessary systems and consolidate the surviving pieces of your computer network environment following a ransomware attack and configure them into a functioning network.

Progent's recovery group utilizes powerful project management tools to orchestrate the complex recovery process. Progent understands the urgency of acting rapidly and in concert with a customer's management and Information Technology resources to prioritize tasks and to put critical applications back online as fast as humanly possible.

Customer Story: A Successful Ransomware Virus Recovery
A client contacted Progent after their organization was penetrated by the Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is thought to have been deployed by North Korean state cybercriminals, possibly using techniques exposed from the United States National Security Agency. Ryuk goes after specific businesses with little ability to sustain operational disruption and is one of the most profitable versions of ransomware malware. Major organizations include Data Resolution, a California-based information warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a small manufacturing company headquartered in Chicago and has around 500 employees. The Ryuk intrusion had brought down all company operations and manufacturing processes. Most of the client's information backups had been directly accessible at the time of the attack and were destroyed. The client was pursuing financing for paying the ransom demand (in excess of two hundred thousand dollars) and praying for the best, but in the end brought in Progent.

"I cannot tell you enough about the expertise Progent gave us throughout the most critical period of (our) company's existence. We had little choice but to pay the criminal gangs if not for the confidence the Progent team provided us. The fact that you were able to get our e-mail system and essential servers back sooner than seven days was incredible. Each consultant I talked with or communicated with at Progent was urgently focused on getting us working again and was working at all hours on our behalf."

Progent worked with the customer to quickly determine and assign priority to the mission critical areas that had to be restored to make it possible to resume departmental functions:

  • Active Directory
  • E-Mail
  • Financials/MRP
To begin, Progent followed Anti-virus event mitigation industry best practices by stopping lateral movement and clearing infected systems. Progent then initiated the steps of rebuilding Windows Active Directory, the heart of enterprise systems built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Microsoft Exchange Server messaging will not operate without Active Directory, and the client's accounting and MRP software utilized Microsoft SQL Server, which requires Active Directory for authentication to the database.

Within two days, Progent was able to re-build Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then initiated reinstallations and storage recovery on needed servers. All Microsoft Exchange Server data and configuration information were intact, which greatly helped the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to locate non-encrypted OST data files (Microsoft Outlook Offline Folder Files) on user desktop computers and laptops to recover email data. A recent offline backup of the businesses manufacturing software made them able to restore these required services back online for users. Although significant work was left to recover totally from the Ryuk event, essential systems were returned to operations rapidly:

"For the most part, the assembly line operation never missed a beat and we produced all customer deliverables."

Throughout the following couple of weeks important milestones in the recovery process were made in close cooperation between Progent consultants and the customer:

  • Self-hosted web sites were brought back up without losing any data.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server with over four million archived messages was brought online and available for users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoicing/AP/AR/Inventory Control modules were fully operational.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was deployed.
  • 90% of the desktop computers were functioning as before the incident.

"A lot of what was accomplished that first week is nearly entirely a fog for me, but our team will not soon forget the countless hours each of your team put in to give us our business back. I've been working with Progent for the past 10 years, possibly more, and each time Progent has shined and delivered. This situation was a Herculean accomplishment."

A possible business catastrophe was averted with dedicated experts, a wide range of subject matter expertise, and close teamwork. Although in hindsight the crypto-ransomware penetration detailed here would have been prevented with up-to-date cyber security technology solutions and NIST Cybersecurity Framework best practices, team training, and well thought out security procedures for information protection and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the fact is that government-sponsored hackers from China, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and are an ongoing threat. If you do get hit by a crypto-ransomware incident, feel confident that Progent's team of experts has substantial experience in ransomware virus defense, remediation, and information systems disaster recovery.

"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (along with others who were contributing), thanks very much for letting me get rested after we got over the most critical parts. Everyone did an amazing job, and if any of your team is in the Chicago area, a great meal is my treat!"

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

Contact Progent for Ransomware Cleanup Services in Boston
For ransomware recovery consulting in the Boston area, phone Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.

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