Crypto-Ransomware : Your Feared IT Disaster
Crypto-Ransomware  Recovery ExpertsRansomware has become a modern cyber pandemic that represents an extinction-level danger for organizations unprepared for an attack. Multiple generations of ransomware such as Reveton, CryptoWall, Locky, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been running rampant for a long time and still inflict havoc. Modern strains of ransomware such as Ryuk and Hermes, as well as additional as yet unnamed newcomers, not only do encryption of on-line critical data but also infect many configured system backups. Files synched to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be rendered useless. In a vulnerable system, this can make automated restoration impossible and basically knocks the datacenter back to square one.

Getting back online applications and information following a crypto-ransomware outage becomes a race against the clock as the targeted organization tries its best to stop the spread and clear the virus and to resume mission-critical operations. Because crypto-ransomware needs time to move laterally, attacks are usually launched on weekends, when successful penetrations may take more time to recognize. This compounds the difficulty of quickly assembling and organizing a capable response team.

Progent provides a range of support services for securing businesses from ransomware events. These include team member training to become familiar with and not fall victim to phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, plus setup and configuration of modern security solutions with AI capabilities to intelligently identify and disable day-zero cyber threats. Progent also provides the services of seasoned ransomware recovery engineers with the skills and commitment to rebuild a compromised system as quickly as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Support Services
Soon after a ransomware attack, paying the ransom in cryptocurrency does not provide any assurance that cyber criminals will return the needed codes to decrypt any or all of your information. Kaspersky Labs determined that 17% of ransomware victims never restored their information even after having sent off the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The risk is also costly. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly higher than the typical ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be approximately $13,000. The alternative is to piece back together the critical elements of your IT environment. Absent access to full system backups, this calls for a broad complement of skills, well-coordinated project management, and the willingness to work continuously until the job is complete.

For decades, Progent has provided expert IT services for businesses in Midtown Manhattan and across the US and has earned Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts includes consultants who have been awarded top certifications in key technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security experts have garnered internationally-renowned certifications including CISM, CISSP-ISSAP, CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has experience in accounting and ERP applications. This breadth of experience provides Progent the skills to knowledgably identify important systems and consolidate the remaining pieces of your IT environment after a ransomware attack and assemble them into a functioning network.

Progent's security team uses top notch project management systems to coordinate the complex restoration process. Progent knows the importance of working rapidly and in unison with a customerís management and IT staff to assign priority to tasks and to get critical systems back online as fast as possible.

Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Penetration Recovery
A small business engaged Progent after their company was taken over by the Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is thought to have been created by Northern Korean state criminal gangs, suspected of adopting technology exposed from the United States National Security Agency. Ryuk seeks specific businesses with limited room for operational disruption and is among the most profitable incarnations of ransomware. High publicized targets include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a regional manufacturing company headquartered in Chicago and has around 500 staff members. The Ryuk event had disabled all essential operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's information backups had been directly accessible at the time of the intrusion and were eventually encrypted. The client considered paying the ransom (in excess of $200K) and wishfully thinking for the best, but ultimately engaged Progent.


"I canít thank you enough about the expertise Progent provided us during the most fearful time of (our) companyís existence. We may have had to pay the cyber criminals except for the confidence the Progent group provided us. The fact that you were able to get our e-mail and critical servers back on-line in less than one week was earth shattering. Each consultant I talked with or texted at Progent was hell bent on getting us operational and was working 24/7 to bail us out."

Progent worked hand in hand the customer to rapidly assess and prioritize the key systems that had to be recovered in order to resume departmental operations:

  • Windows Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Accounting/MRP
To get going, Progent adhered to ransomware event mitigation best practices by halting the spread and clearing infected systems. Progent then initiated the process of bringing back online Microsoft AD, the core of enterprise systems built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Exchange email will not function without Active Directory, and the client's accounting and MRP applications leveraged Microsoft SQL Server, which requires Windows AD for authentication to the data.

In less than two days, Progent was able to recover Active Directory to its pre-intrusion state. Progent then performed reinstallations and hard drive recovery of essential systems. All Exchange ties and configuration information were usable, which accelerated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was able to collect intact OST data files (Outlook Offline Data Files) on staff desktop computers and laptops to recover mail messages. A recent off-line backup of the customerís accounting systems made it possible to return these vital services back online. Although significant work needed to be completed to recover completely from the Ryuk event, critical systems were restored rapidly:


"For the most part, the production operation showed little impact and we produced all customer shipments."

Throughout the next few weeks important milestones in the recovery process were made in close cooperation between Progent engineers and the client:

  • Internal web sites were returned to operation without losing any information.
  • The MailStore Server with over 4 million historical emails was restored to operations and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoicing/AP/Accounts Receivables/Inventory Control modules were 100 percent operational.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was installed.
  • Ninety percent of the desktops and laptops were back into operation.

"A lot of what was accomplished that first week is mostly a fog for me, but we will not soon forget the countless hours all of the team put in to help get our company back. Iíve been working together with Progent for the past 10 years, maybe more, and each time I needed help Progent has impressed me and delivered. This situation was a Herculean accomplishment."

Conclusion
A probable company-ending catastrophe was avoided through the efforts of top-tier professionals, a wide spectrum of knowledge, and tight collaboration. Although upon completion of forensics the crypto-ransomware virus incident described here should have been prevented with current security solutions and recognized best practices, user training, and appropriate security procedures for data protection and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the fact remains that government-sponsored cybercriminals from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and are not going away. If you do get hit by a ransomware virus, feel confident that Progent's team of experts has proven experience in ransomware virus defense, removal, and file disaster recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (along with others who were involved), thanks very much for letting me get some sleep after we got through the first week. Everyone did an impressive job, and if anyone that helped is visiting the Chicago area, dinner is my treat!"

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

Additional Crypto-Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent offers companies in Midtown Manhattan a variety of remote monitoring and security evaluation services designed to assist you to reduce your vulnerability to ransomware. These services include next-generation machine learning technology to uncover new strains of crypto-ransomware that are able to get past traditional signature-based anti-virus products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection (EPP) service that utilizes next generation behavior analysis technology to guard physical and virtual endpoints against modern malware attacks like ransomware and file-less exploits, which routinely get by traditional signature-based AV tools. ProSight ASM safeguards local and cloud resources and provides a single platform to manage the entire threat progression including blocking, identification, mitigation, remediation, and post-attack forensics. Top features include one-click rollback with Windows VSS and automatic network-wide immunization against new threats. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring endpoint protection and ransomware defense.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Endpoint Protection and Exchange Email Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) services deliver affordable in-depth protection for physical servers and virtual machines, desktops, smartphones, and Microsoft Exchange. ProSight ESP uses adaptive security and advanced heuristics for continuously monitoring and reacting to security assaults from all vectors. ProSight ESP offers two-way firewall protection, penetration alerts, device management, and web filtering via leading-edge technologies packaged within one agent accessible from a unified control. Progent's security and virtualization experts can assist your business to plan and configure a ProSight ESP deployment that meets your organization's specific needs and that allows you demonstrate compliance with government and industry information security standards. Progent will help you specify and configure policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your network and react to alarms that require immediate attention. Progent can also help you to set up and test a backup and restore solution like ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can get back in business rapidly from a potentially disastrous cyber attack like ransomware. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified endpoint security and Microsoft Exchange filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services offer small and medium-sized businesses an affordable and fully managed solution for secure backup/disaster recovery (BDR). Available at a low monthly cost, ProSight Data Protection Services automates your backup activities and allows rapid restoration of vital files, apps and VMs that have become lost or corrupted due to component failures, software glitches, disasters, human mistakes, or malware attacks such as ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you back up, recover and restore files, folders, apps, system images, as well as Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware images/. Critical data can be protected on the cloud, to a local device, or mirrored to both. Progent's cloud backup specialists can deliver world-class support to configure ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with government and industry regulatory standards like HIPPA, FIRPA, and PCI and, when needed, can assist you to restore your critical data. Read more about ProSight DPS Managed Cloud Backup.

  • ProSight Email Guard: Inbound and Outbound Spam Filtering and Data Leakage Protection
    ProSight Email Guard is Progent's spam filtering and email encryption service that incorporates the infrastructure of top data security companies to deliver web-based management and world-class security for all your email traffic. The powerful structure of Email Guard combines a Cloud Protection Layer with an on-premises gateway device to offer complete defense against spam, viruses, Dos Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks (DHAs), and other email-based malware. The cloud filter serves as a preliminary barricade and keeps most threats from making it to your security perimeter. This decreases your exposure to inbound threats and conserves system bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's on-premises security gateway device provides a further layer of inspection for incoming email. For outbound email, the on-premises security gateway offers anti-virus and anti-spam protection, DLP, and email encryption. The onsite security gateway can also assist Microsoft Exchange Server to monitor and protect internal email that stays inside your security perimeter. For more information, visit ProSight Email Guard spam and content filtering.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Network Infrastructure Management
    ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure management service that makes it easy and affordable for smaller organizations to map out, track, reconfigure and debug their networking hardware like routers and switches, firewalls, and access points plus servers, endpoints and other devices. Using cutting-edge RMM technology, ProSight WAN Watch ensures that infrastructure topology diagrams are always current, copies and displays the configuration of virtually all devices on your network, tracks performance, and sends notices when potential issues are detected. By automating tedious management activities, WAN Watch can cut hours off common tasks like making network diagrams, expanding your network, locating devices that require important updates, or resolving performance problems. Learn more about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop remote monitoring managed service that uses advanced remote monitoring and management (RMM) technology to keep your IT system operating efficiently by tracking the state of vital computers that power your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch detects a problem, an alarm is transmitted immediately to your designated IT personnel and your assigned Progent engineering consultant so all looming problems can be resolved before they can impact your network. Find out more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring consulting.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted Virtual Machines at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small organization can have its key servers and apps hosted in a secure fault tolerant data center on a fast virtual machine host configured and managed by Progent's network support experts. With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the customer retains ownership of the data, the operating system software, and the applications. Because the environment is virtualized, it can be ported easily to an alternate hosting environment without requiring a time-consuming and technically risky configuration process. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not locked into a single hosting service. Find out more details 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 capture, maintain, retrieve and protect data related to your IT infrastructure, procedures, business apps, and services. You can quickly find passwords or IP addresses and be alerted automatically about impending expirations of SSL certificates or domains. By cleaning up and managing your IT infrastructure documentation, you can save as much as 50% of time thrown away searching for vital information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a common location for holding and sharing all documents required for managing your business network such as standard operating procedures and self-service instructions. ProSight IT Asset Management also offers advanced automation for collecting and relating IT information. Whether youíre making enhancements, doing maintenance, or responding to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management gets you the information you need the instant you need it. Learn more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Midtown Manhattan 24x7x365 Crypto Cleanup Help, call Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.