Ransomware : Your Feared IT Catastrophe
Ransomware  Recovery ProfessionalsRansomware has become an escalating cyber pandemic that represents an existential threat for businesses of all sizes vulnerable to an assault. Versions of crypto-ransomware like the Reveton, Fusob, Bad Rabbit, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been circulating for a long time and still inflict damage. Modern variants of ransomware such as Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, Conti or Egregor, as well as additional unnamed malware, not only encrypt on-line files but also infect any configured system backup. Data synched to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be ransomed. In a poorly architected environment, it can render automated restore operations hopeless and effectively sets the entire system back to square one.

Retrieving applications and information following a ransomware event becomes a sprint against time as the victim fights to stop the spread and cleanup the crypto-ransomware and to restore business-critical activity. Due to the fact that ransomware requires time to spread, attacks are often launched at night, when penetrations may take longer to detect. This multiplies the difficulty of promptly assembling and coordinating a capable mitigation team.

Progent offers an assortment of help services for protecting businesses from ransomware penetrations. Among these are staff education to help recognize and not fall victim to phishing exploits, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, in addition to installation of the latest generation security gateways with artificial intelligence technology from SentinelOne to discover and suppress zero-day cyber threats rapidly. Progent also can provide the assistance of seasoned crypto-ransomware recovery professionals with the skills and perseverance to re-deploy a compromised network as rapidly as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Services
Soon after a ransomware penetration, sending the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not provide any assurance that criminal gangs will respond with the needed keys to unencrypt all your data. Kaspersky ascertained that seventeen percent of crypto-ransomware victims never restored their data after having paid the ransom, resulting in more losses. The gamble is also costly. Ryuk ransoms frequently range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well higher than the typical ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be around $13,000. The fallback is to setup from scratch the key parts of your IT environment. Absent the availability of essential system backups, this calls for a wide complement of skills, top notch team management, and the capability to work 24x7 until the recovery project is finished.

For two decades, Progent has provided certified expert Information Technology services for businesses in Lower Manhattan and throughout the U.S. and has achieved Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes engineers who have been awarded advanced certifications in foundation technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distros of Linux. Progent's cyber security specialists have garnered internationally-recognized certifications including CISM, CISSP-ISSAP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent also has experience with financial management and ERP software solutions. This breadth of experience provides Progent the skills to rapidly determine critical systems and organize the remaining pieces of your computer network environment after a ransomware event and configure them into a functioning system.

Progent's ransomware group uses powerful project management applications to coordinate the complicated restoration process. Progent appreciates the urgency of acting quickly and in concert with a client's management and IT resources to assign priority to tasks and to put key services back online as soon as humanly possible.

Client Case Study: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Incident Response
A customer contacted Progent after their company was crashed by Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been developed by North Korean state criminal gangs, suspected of using techniques leaked from the U.S. National Security Agency. Ryuk attacks specific companies with limited tolerance for disruption and is one of the most profitable examples of ransomware. Major organizations include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a regional manufacturing business based in the Chicago metro area and has about 500 employees. The Ryuk intrusion had frozen all essential operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's data protection had been on-line at the beginning of the intrusion and were eventually encrypted. The client was evaluating paying the ransom (exceeding $200K) and praying for the best, but ultimately engaged Progent.


"I cannot say enough about the support Progent provided us during the most critical period of (our) businesses survival. We had little choice but to pay the Hackers except for the confidence the Progent experts provided us. The fact that you could get our messaging and critical servers back quicker than 1 week was earth shattering. Every single expert I spoke to or e-mailed at Progent was urgently focused on getting my company operational and was working day and night on our behalf."

Progent worked together with the customer to rapidly identify and assign priority to the essential services that had to be restored to make it possible to continue business operations:

  • Microsoft Active Directory
  • Exchange Server
  • Accounting and Manufacturing Software
To start, Progent followed ransomware event mitigation industry best practices by stopping lateral movement and removing active viruses. Progent then started the process of recovering Microsoft Active Directory, the foundation of enterprise environments built upon Microsoft technology. Exchange messaging will not function without Windows AD, and the client's financials and MRP system utilized Microsoft SQL, which needs Active Directory services for security authorization to the data.

In less than 48 hours, Progent was able to rebuild Windows Active Directory to its pre-virus state. Progent then assisted with rebuilding and storage recovery of essential applications. All Exchange ties and attributes were usable, which accelerated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was able to assemble non-encrypted OST data files (Microsoft Outlook Offline Data Files) on various PCs and laptops in order to recover mail data. A not too old offline backup of the businesses accounting/ERP systems made it possible to return these required applications back on-line. Although significant work needed to be completed to recover totally from the Ryuk virus, essential services were restored rapidly:


"For the most part, the assembly line operation was never shut down and we delivered all customer sales."

Over the next few weeks critical milestones in the recovery project were completed in tight collaboration between Progent consultants and the customer:

  • Internal web sites were brought back up without losing any information.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server with over 4 million archived emails was brought on-line and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoices/Accounts Payable/AR/Inventory modules were 100% recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 firewall was brought on-line.
  • Most of the user desktops and notebooks were functioning as before the incident.

"So much of what happened in the early hours is nearly entirely a blur for me, but our team will not forget the dedication each of your team put in to give us our company back. IÔŅĹve trusted Progent for the past 10 years, maybe more, and every time I needed help Progent has impressed me and delivered as promised. This situation was a stunning achievement."

Conclusion
A probable business-ending catastrophe was avoided with top-tier professionals, a wide range of subject matter expertise, and close collaboration. Although in post mortem the crypto-ransomware attack detailed here should have been stopped with current cyber security systems and security best practices, team education, and well designed security procedures for information protection and applying software patches, the fact remains that government-sponsored hackers from Russia, China and elsewhere are tireless and represent an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a ransomware attack, remember that Progent's roster of experts has extensive experience in ransomware virus blocking, removal, and file disaster recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen and Tony (along with others who were helping), thanks very much for letting me get rested after we made it over the initial fire. All of you did an impressive effort, and if anyone is in the Chicago area, dinner is the least I can do!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent offers companies in Lower Manhattan a range of online monitoring and security assessment services to assist you to minimize your vulnerability to ransomware. These services include modern artificial intelligence technology to uncover new variants of ransomware that are able to get past legacy signature-based anti-virus solutions.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection service that utilizes SentinelOne's cutting edge behavior-based machine learning tools to guard physical and virtual endpoints against new malware attacks like ransomware and file-less exploits, which easily evade legacy signature-based anti-virus tools. ProSight ASM protects local and cloud-based resources and offers a single platform to automate the entire threat lifecycle including filtering, detection, mitigation, cleanup, and post-attack forensics. Key capabilities include single-click rollback with Windows VSS and automatic system-wide immunization against newly discovered threats. Progent is a certified SentinelOne Partner. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) endpoint protection and ransomware defense.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Physical and Virtual Endpoint Protection and Microsoft Exchange Email Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection services deliver affordable in-depth protection for physical servers and virtual machines, desktops, mobile devices, and Exchange email. ProSight ESP utilizes contextual security and modern behavior analysis for continuously monitoring and reacting to cyber threats from all vectors. ProSight ESP delivers firewall protection, penetration alerts, device management, and web filtering via leading-edge tools packaged within a single agent managed from a single control. Progent's data protection and virtualization consultants can assist your business to plan and implement a ProSight ESP deployment that addresses your company's specific needs and that helps you demonstrate compliance with government and industry data security regulations. Progent will assist you define and configure security policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and react to alarms that require urgent attention. Progent can also assist you to install and verify a backup and disaster recovery system such as ProSight Data Protection Services so you can get back in business quickly from a destructive cyber attack such as ransomware. Read more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified endpoint protection and Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS): Backup and Recovery Services
    Progent has partnered with advanced backup software providers to produce ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS), a selection of subscription-based management offerings that provide backup-as-a-service. ProSight DPS services automate and track your backup operations and enable transparent backup and rapid restoration of important files/folders, apps, system images, plus virtual machines. ProSight DPS lets your business avoid data loss resulting from hardware breakdown, natural disasters, fire, cyber attacks like ransomware, human mistakes, malicious employees, or application glitches. Managed services in the ProSight DPS product family include ProSight Ataro VM Backup, ProSight Ataro Office 365 Total Backup, ProSight ECHO Backup using Barracuda dedicated hardware, and ProSight MSP360 Cloud and On-prem Backup. Your Progent service representative can assist you to determine which of these fully managed backup services are best suited for your IT environment.

  • 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 uses the infrastructure of top data security companies to deliver centralized control and comprehensive protection for all your email traffic. The hybrid architecture of Email Guard managed service combines cloud-based filtering with a local security gateway appliance to provide advanced protection against spam, viruses, Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks (DHAs), and other email-based malware. The Cloud Protection Layer serves as a preliminary barricade and keeps most unwanted email from reaching your security perimeter. This reduces your exposure to external threats and conserves system bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's on-premises security gateway device adds a further level of analysis for inbound email. For outgoing email, the on-premises security gateway provides anti-virus and anti-spam filtering, policy-based Data Loss Prevention, and email encryption. The onsite gateway can also help Microsoft Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard internal email that stays within your corporate firewall. For more details, visit ProSight Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Infrastructure Remote Monitoring and Management
    ProSight WAN Watch is a network infrastructure management service that makes it simple and affordable for small and mid-sized organizations to map out, track, reconfigure and troubleshoot their networking appliances like routers and switches, firewalls, and access points as well as servers, printers, client computers and other networked devices. Using state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, ProSight WAN Watch ensures that network diagrams are always current, captures and manages the configuration information of virtually all devices connected to your network, monitors performance, and generates notices when issues are detected. By automating complex management activities, ProSight WAN Watch can knock hours off ordinary tasks like network mapping, reconfiguring your network, finding appliances that need critical software patches, or identifying the cause of performance issues. Find out more details about ProSight WAN Watch network infrastructure monitoring and management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Remote Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop remote monitoring service that uses state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management technology to keep your IT system operating at peak levels by tracking the health of vital assets that drive your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers a problem, an alert is transmitted immediately to your specified IT management personnel and your assigned Progent consultant so that all looming issues can be resolved before they have a chance to disrupt productivity. Learn more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring consulting.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size business can have its critical servers and applications hosted in a secure fault tolerant data center on a fast virtual host configured and maintained by Progent's IT support professionals. With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service model, the customer owns the data, the operating system platforms, and the applications. Because the environment is virtualized, it can be moved easily to an alternate hardware environment without requiring a lengthy and difficult reinstallation process. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not locked into one hosting provider. Find out more about ProSight Virtual Hosting services.

  • ProSight IT Asset Management: Network Documentation Management
    Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service is a cloud-based IT documentation management service that makes it easy to capture, update, find and protect information about your network infrastructure, procedures, applications, and services. You can quickly locate passwords or IP addresses and be warned about impending expirations of SSL certificates or warranties. By updating and managing your IT documentation, you can save up to half of time wasted looking for critical information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a centralized location for holding and collaborating on all documents related to managing your business network such as recommended procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports a high level of automation for gathering and associating IT information. Whether youíre planning improvements, performing maintenance, or responding to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the knowledge you require when you need it. Learn more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.

  • Active Defense Against Ransomware: AI-based Ransomware Detection and Remediation
    Progent's Active Defense Against Ransomware is an endpoint protection (EPP) solution that utilizes next generation behavior machine learning technology to guard endpoints as well as servers and VMs against modern malware assaults such as ransomware and file-less exploits, which easily get by traditional signature-based anti-virus tools. Progent ASM services safeguard on-premises and cloud resources and offers a unified platform to address the complete malware attack lifecycle including protection, infiltration detection, mitigation, remediation, and forensics. Top features include single-click rollback using Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service and automatic system-wide immunization against newly discovered threats. Learn more about Progent's ransomware protection and cleanup services.

  • Outsourced/Co-managed Help Desk: Support Desk Managed Services
    Progent's Support Desk managed services permit your information technology team to outsource Help Desk services to Progent or divide responsibilities for Help Desk services transparently between your internal network support team and Progent's extensive roster of certified IT service technicians, engineers and subject matter experts. Progent's Shared Service Desk offers a smooth supplement to your corporate support group. User access to the Help Desk, provision of technical assistance, escalation, trouble ticket creation and updates, performance measurement, and maintenance of the service database are consistent regardless of whether incidents are taken care of by your in-house support group, by Progent's team, or by a combination. Find out more about Progent's outsourced/shared Service Desk services.

  • Progent's Patch Management: Patch Management Services
    Progent's support services for patch management offer businesses of any size a versatile and cost-effective alternative for evaluating, validating, scheduling, implementing, and documenting software and firmware updates to your dynamic IT network. Besides optimizing the security and reliability of your computer environment, Progent's patch management services permit your in-house IT team to focus on line-of-business initiatives and activities that derive the highest business value from your network. Find out more about Progent's patch management services.

  • ProSight Duo Multi-Factor Authentication: ID Confirmation, Endpoint Policy Enforcement, and Secure Single Sign-on (SSO)
    Progent's Duo authentication services incorporate Cisco's Duo cloud technology to defend against compromised passwords through the use of two-factor authentication. Duo enables single-tap identity verification on Apple iOS, Android, and other personal devices. Using Duo 2FA, whenever you sign into a secured online account and give your password you are asked to confirm who you are on a unit that only you possess and that uses a separate network channel. A wide selection of devices can be used for this second form of ID validation including a smartphone or wearable, a hardware/software token, a landline telephone, etc. You may designate multiple validation devices. For details about Duo two-factor identity validation services, refer to Duo MFA two-factor authentication services.
For 24/7/365 Lower Manhattan Crypto-Ransomware Remediation Consulting, call Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.