Crypto-Ransomware : Your Worst Information Technology Disaster
Crypto-Ransomware  Recovery ProfessionalsRansomware has become a modern cyberplague that poses an existential danger for businesses of all sizes vulnerable to an assault. Different iterations of ransomware such as CrySIS, WannaCry, Bad Rabbit, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been replicating for many years and continue to cause harm. Recent versions of crypto-ransomware like Ryuk and Hermes, along with more unnamed malware, not only do encryption of online files but also infect most configured system protection mechanisms. Data synched to cloud environments can also be corrupted. In a poorly designed data protection solution, it can render automatic restore operations impossible and effectively sets the datacenter back to square one.

Getting back on-line services and data after a ransomware intrusion becomes a race against time as the targeted business fights to contain and remove the virus and to resume business-critical operations. Due to the fact that ransomware needs time to spread, attacks are often sprung on weekends, when successful penetrations in many cases take longer to notice. This multiplies the difficulty of promptly mobilizing and coordinating a qualified response team.

Progent makes available an assortment of services for securing businesses from ransomware penetrations. These include team member training to become familiar with and not fall victim to phishing exploits, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, plus installation of next-generation security appliances with AI capabilities to automatically detect and extinguish zero-day threats. Progent also can provide the services of seasoned crypto-ransomware recovery consultants with the track record and perseverance to rebuild a breached system as quickly as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Restoration Help
After a ransomware penetration, paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not provide any assurance that criminal gangs will respond with the codes to decipher any of your information. Kaspersky Labs determined that 17% of ransomware victims never recovered their files after having paid the ransom, resulting in increased losses. The risk is also costly. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well above the usual ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be around $13,000. The fallback is to re-install the critical elements of your IT environment. Absent the availability of complete data backups, this calls for a wide complement of IT skills, top notch project management, and the ability to work non-stop until the job is done.

For decades, Progent has provided professional IT services for businesses in Midtown Manhattan and across the United States and has earned Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes professionals who have been awarded high-level certifications in key technologies like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's security experts have garnered internationally-renowned industry certifications including CISM, CISSP, CRISC, and GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent also has expertise with financial systems and ERP software solutions. This breadth of experience gives Progent the skills to knowledgably ascertain important systems and integrate the surviving pieces of your IT environment following a crypto-ransomware penetration and assemble them into a functioning system.

Progent's security group utilizes best of breed project management tools to orchestrate the complicated recovery process. Progent knows the importance of working rapidly and in unison with a customerís management and IT staff to prioritize tasks and to get critical systems back on line as fast as humanly possible.

Business Case Study: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Penetration Recovery
A customer escalated to Progent after their network was brought down by Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is believed to have been deployed by North Korean government sponsored cybercriminals, possibly adopting techniques exposed from the U.S. National Security Agency. Ryuk targets specific organizations with little tolerance for operational disruption and is among the most profitable incarnations of ransomware. Headline targets include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing company, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a single-location manufacturer headquartered in Chicago and has about 500 workers. The Ryuk intrusion had paralyzed all company operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's information backups had been directly accessible at the beginning of the attack and were encrypted. The client was taking steps for paying the ransom (exceeding $200K) and hoping for the best, but ultimately utilized Progent.


"I cannot thank you enough about the support Progent gave us throughout the most stressful period of (our) companyís survival. We may have had to pay the criminal gangs if not for the confidence the Progent group provided us. The fact that you could get our e-mail system and essential servers back in less than five days was something I thought impossible. Each expert I worked with or communicated with at Progent was hell bent on getting us back online and was working day and night to bail us out."

Progent worked with the customer to rapidly understand and assign priority to the key services that had to be recovered to make it possible to continue departmental operations:

  • Microsoft Active Directory
  • Exchange Server
  • Accounting/MRP
To start, Progent followed Anti-virus penetration mitigation industry best practices by stopping lateral movement and performing virus removal steps. Progent then began the task of recovering Microsoft AD, the key technology of enterprise environments built upon Microsoft technology. Microsoft Exchange messaging will not function without Active Directory, and the businessesí financials and MRP system used Microsoft SQL Server, which requires Active Directory for authentication to the database.

Within 2 days, Progent was able to rebuild Windows Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then completed setup and hard drive recovery on mission critical systems. All Exchange Server ties and configuration information were usable, which facilitated the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to assemble non-encrypted OST data files (Outlook Offline Folder Files) on user PCs to recover mail information. A recent offline backup of the client's accounting/MRP software made it possible to recover these essential programs back online. Although significant work remained to recover totally from the Ryuk event, the most important systems were returned to operations rapidly:


"For the most part, the production operation was never shut down and we did not miss any customer shipments."

Over the following few weeks key milestones in the recovery project were achieved through tight collaboration between Progent team members and the customer:

  • In-house web sites were brought back up with no loss of data.
  • The MailStore Exchange Server with over 4 million historical messages was brought online and available for users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoices/Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivables/Inventory capabilities were 100 percent restored.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 security appliance was installed.
  • Ninety percent of the user desktops and notebooks were being used by staff.

"A lot of what happened in the early hours is nearly entirely a haze for me, but our team will not soon forget the commitment each of you accomplished to help get our company back. I have utilized Progent for the past ten years, maybe more, and every time I needed help Progent has shined and delivered as promised. This situation was a testament to your capabilities."

Conclusion
A potential business extinction disaster was dodged with results-oriented experts, a wide array of technical expertise, and tight teamwork. Although in post mortem the ransomware virus attack detailed here would have been prevented with up-to-date security systems and recognized best practices, user training, and well designed incident response procedures for backup and proper patching controls, the fact is that state-sponsored cybercriminals from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and are an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a ransomware penetration, feel confident that Progent's roster of professionals has proven experience in ransomware virus defense, mitigation, and information systems disaster recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others that were helping), thank you for letting me get some sleep after we made it through the first week. Everyone did an amazing job, and if any of your guys is around the Chicago area, dinner is on me!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent can provide businesses in Midtown Manhattan a portfolio of online monitoring and security evaluation services designed to help you to minimize the threat from crypto-ransomware. These services include modern artificial intelligence technology to uncover new variants of ransomware that are able to escape detection by legacy signature-based security products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection solution that utilizes next generation behavior-based machine learning technology to defend physical and virtual endpoint devices against modern malware assaults such as ransomware and email phishing, which easily escape traditional signature-based AV tools. ProSight ASM protects local and cloud-based resources and offers a unified platform to address the complete threat progression including filtering, identification, containment, cleanup, and forensics. Top capabilities include one-click rollback using Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service and automatic network-wide immunization against new attacks. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Physical and Virtual Endpoint Security and Microsoft Exchange Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) managed services offer economical in-depth protection for physical servers and VMs, workstations, smartphones, and Microsoft Exchange. ProSight ESP utilizes adaptive security and modern behavior analysis 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 via leading-edge technologies incorporated within one agent managed from a unified console. Progent's data protection and virtualization experts can assist your business to design and configure a ProSight ESP deployment that addresses your company's unique requirements and that allows you prove compliance with legal and industry data security standards. Progent will help you specify and implement policies that ProSight ESP will manage, and Progent will monitor your network and react to alerts that require urgent action. Progent can also assist your company to install and verify a backup and restore solution like ProSight Data Protection Services so you can recover rapidly from a potentially disastrous security attack such as ransomware. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified endpoint security and Microsoft Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services provide small and medium-sized businesses a low cost and fully managed solution for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). Available at a fixed monthly rate, ProSight Data Protection Services automates your backup processes and enables rapid recovery of vital data, apps and VMs that have become lost or corrupted as a result of component failures, software glitches, natural disasters, human error, or malicious attacks like ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you protect, recover and restore files, folders, applications, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware images/. Critical data can be protected on the cloud, to a local device, or mirrored to both. Progent's backup and recovery specialists can deliver advanced expertise to configure ProSight Data Protection Services to be compliant with government and industry regulatory requirements like HIPAA, FIRPA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, when needed, can assist you to restore your business-critical information. Read more about ProSight Data Protection Services Managed Backup.

  • ProSight Email Guard: Inbound and Outbound Spam Filtering and Data Leakage Protection
    ProSight Email Guard is Progent's spam filtering service that uses the infrastructure of top information security companies to provide web-based control and comprehensive security for your email traffic. 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, DHAs, and other email-borne threats. The cloud filter serves as a first line of defense and keeps most unwanted email from making it to your security perimeter. This reduces your vulnerability to external threats and saves system bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's onsite security gateway appliance adds a deeper level of inspection for incoming email. For outbound email, the onsite gateway provides anti-virus and anti-spam filtering, DLP, and email encryption. The on-premises gateway can also help Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard internal email that originates and ends within your security perimeter. For more details, see ProSight Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Infrastructure Management
    ProSight WAN Watch is a network infrastructure management service that makes it simple and inexpensive for smaller businesses to map out, monitor, reconfigure and troubleshoot their connectivity hardware such as routers, firewalls, and access points plus servers, printers, endpoints and other devices. Using state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management technology, WAN Watch makes sure that infrastructure topology diagrams are kept current, copies and manages the configuration of almost all devices connected to your network, monitors performance, and sends notices when issues are detected. By automating time-consuming management and troubleshooting activities, WAN Watch can knock hours off ordinary tasks like making network diagrams, expanding your network, locating devices that require critical updates, or identifying the cause of performance bottlenecks. Learn more about ProSight WAN Watch network infrastructure management services.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop remote monitoring service that uses advanced remote monitoring and management (RMM) techniques to help keep your network running efficiently by checking the health of critical assets that drive your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers a problem, an alarm is transmitted automatically to your specified IT management staff and your Progent engineering consultant so that all potential problems can be resolved before they can disrupt your network. Learn more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's World-class Data Center
    With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size business can have its key servers and apps hosted in a protected fault tolerant data center on a high-performance virtual machine host set up and managed by Progent's IT support experts. Under the ProSight Virtual Hosting service model, the customer owns the data, the OS platforms, and the applications. Since the environment is virtualized, it can be moved easily to an alternate hardware solution without requiring a lengthy and difficult configuration procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not tied a single hosting provider. Learn more details 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 allows you to create, update, find and safeguard data related to your network infrastructure, processes, business apps, and services. You can instantly locate passwords or IP addresses and be alerted automatically about upcoming expirations of SSL certificates ,domains or warranties. By cleaning up and managing your IT infrastructure documentation, you can save as much as half of time spent trying to find vital information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a common repository for storing and sharing all documents related to managing your network infrastructure such as standard operating procedures and self-service instructions. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports advanced automation for collecting and associating IT information. Whether youíre planning enhancements, doing maintenance, or reacting to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the data you need when you need it. Learn more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Midtown Manhattan 24/7 Ransomware Remediation Consultants, contact Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.