Ransomware : Your Worst Information Technology Nightmare
Crypto-Ransomware  Recovery ProfessionalsCrypto-Ransomware has become an escalating cyberplague that represents an extinction-level danger for organizations unprepared for an assault. Versions of crypto-ransomware like the Dharma, CryptoWall, Bad Rabbit, Syskey and MongoLock cryptoworms have been running rampant for many years and continue to inflict harm. Newer versions of crypto-ransomware such as Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, Snatch or Nephilim, along with more unnamed malware, not only encrypt online information but also infect most configured system protection mechanisms. Information replicated to cloud environments can also be encrypted. In a poorly designed system, this can render automated restoration useless and basically sets the datacenter back to square one.

Restoring services and data after a ransomware intrusion becomes a sprint against time as the victim tries its best to contain and eradicate the ransomware and to restore mission-critical activity. Because ransomware takes time to replicate, penetrations are frequently launched at night, when successful attacks are likely to take longer to uncover. This compounds the difficulty of rapidly assembling and orchestrating a knowledgeable mitigation team.

Progent provides a range of help services for protecting organizations from crypto-ransomware penetrations. These include staff education to help recognize and avoid phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, in addition to setup and configuration of the latest generation security solutions with AI technology from SentinelOne to detect and quarantine zero-day cyber threats intelligently. Progent also provides the services of experienced crypto-ransomware recovery engineers with the track record and commitment to rebuild a breached system as soon as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Recovery Services
After a crypto-ransomware event, sending the ransom in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not provide any assurance that merciless criminals will respond with the codes to decrypt all your files. Kaspersky Labs ascertained that 17% of ransomware victims never recovered their data even after having paid the ransom, resulting in increased 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 typical ransomware demands, which ZDNET averages to be around $13,000. The fallback is to piece back together the key components of your Information Technology environment. Without the availability of full information backups, this calls for a wide range of skill sets, professional team management, and the willingness to work 24x7 until the job is over.

For decades, Progent has offered expert IT services for companies in Leeds and across the U.S. and has earned Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts includes consultants who have earned advanced certifications in foundation technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security experts have garnered internationally-recognized certifications including CISA, CISSP-ISSAP, CRISC, and GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise with accounting and ERP application software. This breadth of expertise gives Progent the capability to efficiently ascertain necessary systems and organize the remaining components of your network system following a crypto-ransomware attack and rebuild them into a functioning system.

Progent's recovery team uses best of breed project management tools to coordinate the sophisticated recovery process. Progent appreciates the importance of acting quickly and in concert with a customer's management and IT resources to prioritize tasks and to get the most important services back online as soon as humanly possible.

Business Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Attack Recovery
A small business escalated to Progent after their company was attacked by the Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is believed to have been created by North Korean government sponsored hackers, possibly using algorithms exposed from the U.S. NSA organization. Ryuk goes after specific companies with little room for disruption and is one of the most lucrative instances of ransomware. Headline victims include Data Resolution, a California-based information warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a single-location manufacturing business based in Chicago and has around 500 staff members. The Ryuk intrusion had brought down all company operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's data backups had been directly accessible at the time of the intrusion and were damaged. The client was evaluating paying the ransom demand (in excess of $200,000) and praying for the best, but in the end called Progent.


"I can't tell you enough in regards to the help Progent gave us during the most critical period of (our) businesses existence. We may have had to pay the cyber criminals behind the attack if it wasn't for the confidence the Progent experts afforded us. The fact that you were able to get our messaging and key servers back on-line in less than one week was earth shattering. Every single staff member I got help from or communicated with at Progent was hell bent on getting our company operational and was working non-stop on our behalf."

Progent worked together with the customer to quickly identify and assign priority to the mission critical applications that needed to be addressed to make it possible to continue departmental operations:

  • Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • MRP System
To start, Progent followed Anti-virus incident response best practices by halting lateral movement and removing active viruses. Progent then started the process of recovering Microsoft AD, the heart of enterprise environments built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Exchange email will not operate without Active Directory, and the client's financials and MRP applications used Microsoft SQL, which needs Active Directory for authentication to the data.

In less than two days, Progent was able to rebuild Active Directory to its pre-penetration state. Progent then initiated reinstallations and hard drive recovery of the most important systems. All Microsoft Exchange Server data and attributes were intact, which accelerated the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to locate local OST data files (Outlook Off-Line Data Files) on staff workstations and laptops to recover email information. A recent off-line backup of the businesses financials/MRP systems made it possible to recover these vital applications back online for users. Although major work was left to recover fully from the Ryuk attack, the most important systems were restored rapidly:


"For the most part, the production manufacturing operation showed little impact and we delivered all customer orders."

During the following few weeks critical milestones in the recovery project were accomplished through tight collaboration between Progent consultants and the client:

  • In-house web applications were brought back up without losing any information.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server with over 4 million archived emails was restored to operations and available for users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoices/Accounts Payable (AP)/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory capabilities were 100 percent recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 firewall was installed and configured.
  • 90% of the user workstations were operational.

"A lot of what was accomplished those first few days is mostly a blur for me, but I will not forget the urgency each and every one of your team put in to help get our business back. I have been working together with Progent for the past ten years, maybe more, and every time Progent has impressed me and delivered. This time was a life saver."

Conclusion
A possible business extinction catastrophe was dodged through the efforts of dedicated experts, a wide array of subject matter expertise, and close teamwork. Although in retrospect the ransomware virus incident detailed here could have been identified and blocked with current security solutions and NIST Cybersecurity Framework best practices, user and IT administrator education, and properly executed security procedures for information backup and applying software patches, the reality remains that state-sponsored cybercriminals from China, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and are an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a ransomware incident, remember that Progent's team of professionals has substantial experience in ransomware virus blocking, cleanup, and file recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen and Tony (along with others that were contributing), thank you for making it so I could get some sleep after we made it through the most critical parts. Everyone did an amazing job, and if anyone is around the Chicago area, dinner is the least I can do!"

To read or download a PDF version of this ransomware incident report, please click:
Progent's Ransomware Incident Recovery Case Study Datasheet. (PDF - 282 KB)

Additional Crypto-Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent offers companies in Leeds a range of remote monitoring and security assessment services designed to help you to reduce your vulnerability to ransomware. These services include next-generation AI technology to uncover new strains of ransomware that can escape detection by legacy signature-based security solutions.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) is an endpoint protection (EPP) solution that incorporates SentinelOne's next generation behavior machine learning tools to defend physical and virtual endpoint devices against modern malware attacks like ransomware and email phishing, which routinely escape legacy signature-based anti-virus products. ProSight Active Security Monitoring protects on-premises and cloud-based resources and provides a unified platform to automate the complete malware attack lifecycle including protection, identification, containment, remediation, and forensics. Top capabilities include single-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and real-time system-wide immunization against newly discovered attacks. Progent is a SentinelOne Partner, reseller, and integrator. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Endpoint Security and Exchange Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection managed services offer ultra-affordable in-depth security for physical and virtual servers, desktops, smartphones, and Exchange email. ProSight ESP utilizes adaptive security and modern behavior analysis for round-the-clock monitoring and responding to cyber threats from all vectors. ProSight ESP offers firewall protection, penetration alarms, endpoint control, and web filtering via leading-edge technologies packaged within one agent accessible from a single console. Progent's security and virtualization consultants can help you to plan and implement a ProSight ESP environment that addresses your organization's specific requirements and that helps you prove compliance with legal and industry data security standards. Progent will help you define and implement security policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your network and react to alarms that require immediate action. Progent's consultants can also help your company to install and verify a backup and restore system like ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can get back in business quickly from a destructive security attack like ransomware. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified endpoint security and Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Backup and Recovery Services
    Progent has worked with leading backup technology providers to produce ProSight Data Protection Services, a family of management outsourcing plans that deliver backup-as-a-service. ProSight DPS products automate and monitor your backup operations and enable transparent backup and fast recovery of critical files, applications, images, and virtual machines. ProSight DPS lets your business recover from data loss caused by equipment failures, natural calamities, fire, cyber attacks such as ransomware, human mistakes, malicious insiders, or software glitches. Managed backup services available in the ProSight Data Protection Services portfolio include ProSight Altaro VM Backup, ProSight 365 Total Backup (formerly Altaro 365 Backup), ProSight DPS ECHO Backup based on Barracuda purpose-built hardware, and ProSight DPS MSP360 Cloud and On-prem Backup. Your Progent service representative can help you to identify which of these 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 and virus filtering and email encryption service that uses the technology of leading data security companies to deliver web-based control and world-class protection for all your inbound and outbound email. The hybrid architecture of Progent's Email Guard managed service integrates a Cloud Protection Layer with a local gateway device to offer complete defense against spam, viruses, Dos Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks, and other email-borne threats. Email Guard's cloud filter serves as a first line of defense and keeps the vast majority of threats from reaching your security perimeter. This reduces your vulnerability to inbound attacks and saves network bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's on-premises gateway device provides a deeper layer of analysis for incoming email. For outgoing email, the on-premises gateway provides anti-virus and anti-spam protection, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The onsite gateway can also assist Exchange Server to monitor and protect internal email that originates and ends inside your corporate firewall. For more information, visit ProSight Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Network Infrastructure Remote Monitoring and Management
    Progent's ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure monitoring and management service that makes it easy and inexpensive for small and mid-sized businesses to map out, track, reconfigure and debug their networking hardware such as routers, firewalls, and load balancers plus servers, printers, client computers and other devices. Using cutting-edge Remote Monitoring and Management technology, WAN Watch makes sure that infrastructure topology maps are always current, captures and manages the configuration information of virtually all devices on your network, monitors performance, and generates alerts when potential issues are detected. By automating complex network management activities, WAN Watch can cut hours off ordinary tasks such as network mapping, reconfiguring your network, finding appliances that need important updates, or isolating performance problems. Learn more details about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure monitoring and management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Remote Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progent's server and desktop monitoring managed service that uses advanced remote monitoring and management (RMM) technology to help keep your IT system operating efficiently by tracking the health of vital computers that drive your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers a problem, an alarm is sent immediately to your designated IT personnel and your assigned Progent engineering consultant so all potential issues can be addressed before they can disrupt productivity. Find out more details about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted Virtual Machines at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size organization can have its key servers and apps hosted in a secure fault tolerant data center on a fast virtual host set up and maintained by Progent's network support professionals. Under Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service model, the customer owns the data, the operating system software, and the apps. Since the environment is virtualized, it can be moved easily to an alternate hosting solution without requiring a time-consuming and technically risky reinstallation process. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not tied a single hosting provider. Learn 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 allows you to create, update, find and protect data about your network infrastructure, processes, applications, and services. You can instantly find passwords or IP addresses and be warned about impending expirations of SSLs or warranties. By cleaning up and organizing your IT infrastructure documentation, you can eliminate as much as 50% of time wasted looking for vital information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a centralized location for holding and collaborating on all documents required for managing your network infrastructure like standard operating procedures (SOPs) and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports advanced automation for collecting and associating IT data. Whether you're making improvements, performing maintenance, or responding to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management gets you the information you need as soon as you need it. Read more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.

  • Active Defense Against Ransomware: AI-based Ransomware Identification and Remediation
    Progent's Active Defense Against Ransomware is an endpoint protection (EPP) service that incorporates cutting edge behavior machine learning technology to defend endpoints as well as servers and VMs against new malware assaults like ransomware and file-less exploits, which routinely get by traditional signature-based anti-virus products. Progent ASM services safeguard local and cloud resources and provides a unified platform to automate the entire malware attack lifecycle including blocking, detection, mitigation, cleanup, and forensics. Key features include one-click rollback with Windows VSS and automatic system-wide immunization against new threats. Find out more about Progent's ransomware protection and recovery services.

  • Progent's Outsourced/Shared Service Center: Call Center Managed Services
    Progent's Help Center services allow your information technology team to outsource Help Desk services to Progent or split responsibilities for Help Desk services transparently between your internal network support staff and Progent's extensive pool of certified IT service engineers and subject matter experts (SMEs). Progent's Co-managed Service Desk provides a smooth extension of your corporate support team. User interaction with the Service Desk, delivery of technical assistance, issue escalation, ticket generation and updates, efficiency metrics, and maintenance of the support database are cohesive whether incidents are taken care of by your core network support organization, by Progent's team, or by a combination. Find out more about Progent's outsourced/co-managed Help Center services.

  • Progent's Patch Management: Software/Firmware Update Management Services
    Progent's managed services for software and firmware patch management offer businesses of any size a versatile and cost-effective solution for assessing, testing, scheduling, applying, and tracking software and firmware updates to your ever-evolving information network. Besides maximizing the security and functionality of your IT network, Progent's software/firmware update management services permit your IT staff to focus on more strategic projects and activities that deliver maximum business value from your information network. Read more about Progent's software/firmware update management services.

  • ProSight Duo Two-Factor Authentication: Identity Validation, Endpoint Remediation, and Secure Single Sign-on
    Progent's Duo MFA service plans utilize Cisco's Duo cloud technology to protect against password theft through the use of two-factor authentication (2FA). Duo enables single-tap identity confirmation with iOS, Android, and other out-of-band devices. With Duo 2FA, whenever you log into a protected application and give your password you are asked to confirm your identity via a unit that only you possess and that uses a separate network channel. A wide range of out-of-band devices can be utilized as this added form of ID validation including an iPhone or Android or wearable, a hardware token, a landline phone, etc. You may register several verification devices. For more information about Duo identity validation services, visit Duo MFA two-factor authentication services.

  • ProSight Reporting: Real-time Reporting for Ticketing and Network Monitoring Applications
    ProSight Reporting is a growing suite of real-time and in-depth reporting tools created to work with the top ticketing and network monitoring platforms such as ConnectWise Manage, ConnectWise Automate, Customer Thermometer, Auvik, and SentinelOne. ProSight Reporting uses Microsoft Graph and utilizes color coding to surface and contextualize key issues such as inconsistent support follow-through or machines with out-of-date AVs. By exposing ticketing or network health concerns concisely and in near-real time, ProSight Reporting improves network value, lowers management hassle, and saves money. For details, visit ProSight Reporting for ticketing and network monitoring applications.
For Leeds 24x7x365 CryptoLocker Repair Experts, reach out to Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.