Ransomware : Your Worst Information Technology Disaster
Ransomware  Remediation ExpertsRansomware has become an escalating cyberplague that poses an extinction-level danger for businesses poorly prepared for an attack. Different iterations of crypto-ransomware like the Dharma, WannaCry, Locky, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been around for many years and continue to cause havoc. Modern versions of ransomware such as Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, Conti or Egregor, as well as frequent unnamed newcomers, not only do encryption of online critical data but also infect all configured system protection. Information synched to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be encrypted. In a poorly designed system, it can render any recovery useless and basically knocks the datacenter back to square one.

Recovering services and information following a ransomware outage becomes a sprint against the clock as the victim fights to stop lateral movement and remove the ransomware and to resume business-critical operations. Because ransomware takes time to move laterally, penetrations are usually sprung on weekends, when attacks in many cases take more time to recognize. This compounds the difficulty of rapidly marshalling and orchestrating an experienced mitigation team.

Progent offers a variety of services for securing businesses from crypto-ransomware events. These include user training to become familiar with and not fall victim to phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, plus deployment of next-generation security appliances with AI capabilities from SentinelOne to detect and quarantine new threats quickly. Progent also offers the services of expert ransomware recovery engineers with the talent and commitment to reconstruct a breached network as quickly as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Recovery Support Services
Following a crypto-ransomware attack, paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not provide any assurance that cyber hackers will return the keys to unencrypt any or all of your information. Kaspersky ascertained that 17% of crypto-ransomware victims never restored their files after having sent off the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The risk is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms often range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is significantly higher than the typical crypto-ransomware demands, which ZDNET averages to be in the range of $13,000. The other path is to setup from scratch the mission-critical parts of your IT environment. Without the availability of full system backups, this requires a wide range of IT skills, top notch team management, and the ability to work 24x7 until the task is finished.

For two decades, Progent has provided certified expert IT services for businesses in Colorado Springs and across the US and has achieved Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts includes professionals who have been awarded high-level certifications in leading technologies like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's security specialists have garnered internationally-renowned industry certifications including CISM, CISSP, CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent also has expertise with accounting and ERP applications. This breadth of experience affords Progent the ability to rapidly ascertain necessary systems and integrate the surviving parts of your Information Technology system following a ransomware penetration and rebuild them into an operational system.

Progent's security group deploys state-of-the-art project management tools to coordinate the complex restoration process. Progent appreciates the importance of working quickly and together with a client's management and IT staff to prioritize tasks and to put critical systems back on line as soon as possible.

Client Story: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Intrusion Recovery
A business sought out Progent after their company was taken over by the Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is thought to have been created by North Korean state sponsored cybercriminals, suspected of using techniques leaked from the U.S. NSA organization. Ryuk seeks specific organizations with little room for disruption and is one of the most profitable versions of crypto-ransomware. Well Known organizations include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing company, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a small manufacturing business based in Chicago and has about 500 employees. The Ryuk attack had shut down all business operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's data backups had been online at the start of the intrusion and were destroyed. The client was taking steps for paying the ransom (exceeding $200,000) and wishfully thinking for good luck, but in the end made the decision to use Progent.


"I cannot thank you enough in regards to the care Progent gave us throughout the most fearful time of (our) businesses life. We would have paid the Hackers if not for the confidence the Progent experts afforded us. The fact that you were able to get our e-mail system and critical servers back on-line faster than a week was beyond my wildest dreams. Every single expert I interacted with or e-mailed at Progent was absolutely committed on getting us back on-line and was working day and night on our behalf."

Progent worked with the customer to rapidly assess and prioritize the critical areas that needed to be recovered in order to restart departmental functions:

  • Microsoft Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange Email
  • Accounting and Manufacturing Software
To begin, Progent adhered to ransomware incident response best practices by stopping the spread and cleaning systems of viruses. Progent then initiated the work of restoring Windows Active Directory, the key technology of enterprise systems built on Microsoft Windows Server technology. Microsoft Exchange messaging will not operate without AD, and the client's financials and MRP software leveraged Microsoft SQL Server, which requires Active Directory for access to the databases.

Within two days, Progent was able to restore Windows Active Directory to its pre-intrusion state. Progent then helped perform setup and storage recovery on needed applications. All Exchange Server data and configuration information were intact, which accelerated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was able to locate non-encrypted OST files (Outlook Email Offline Data Files) on user workstations and laptops in order to recover mail data. A not too old offline backup of the customer's accounting/ERP software made them able to recover these vital services back on-line. Although a lot of work remained to recover completely from the Ryuk event, essential services were restored rapidly:


"For the most part, the manufacturing operation survived unscathed and we delivered all customer orders."

Over the following few weeks key milestones in the recovery process were made through tight cooperation between Progent team members and the client:

  • In-house web applications were returned to operation without losing any data.
  • The MailStore Server exceeding 4 million archived messages was brought on-line and available for users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoicing/AP/AR/Inventory capabilities were 100 percent recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 firewall was set up.
  • 90% of the desktop computers were operational.

"A lot of what occurred in the initial days is mostly a fog for me, but my management will not soon forget the countless hours each and every one of your team put in to give us our company back. I've been working together with Progent for the past ten years, possibly more, and each time Progent has come through and delivered. This situation was a Herculean accomplishment."

Conclusion
A possible enterprise-killing disaster was dodged by hard-working experts, a wide spectrum of knowledge, and close teamwork. Although in hindsight the ransomware virus incident detailed here could have been identified and prevented with advanced cyber security technology solutions and NIST Cybersecurity Framework best practices, staff training, and well designed security procedures for data protection and proper patching controls, the fact is that state-sponsored cybercriminals from China, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and represent an ongoing threat. If you do get hit by a crypto-ransomware virus, remember that Progent's team of experts has a proven track record in ransomware virus defense, remediation, and file restoration.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen and Tony (along with others who were contributing), thank you for making it so I could get some sleep after we got through the initial push. All of you did an impressive job, and if any of your guys is in the Chicago area, dinner is on me!"

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

Additional Crypto-Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent can provide companies in Colorado Springs a variety of online monitoring and security assessment services designed to assist you to reduce your vulnerability to ransomware. These services incorporate next-generation AI technology to uncover zero-day variants of ransomware that are able to evade legacy signature-based security solutions.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection service that utilizes SentinelOne's next generation behavior-based machine learning technology to defend physical and virtual endpoint devices against new malware attacks such as ransomware and file-less exploits, which easily evade legacy signature-matching anti-virus tools. ProSight ASM protects on-premises and cloud-based resources and provides a unified platform to address the entire malware attack lifecycle including filtering, identification, mitigation, cleanup, and post-attack forensics. Top 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) next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware defense.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Endpoint Protection and Microsoft Exchange Email Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection services deliver ultra-affordable in-depth security for physical servers and VMs, desktops, smartphones, and Exchange Server. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and advanced machine learning for continuously monitoring and reacting to security assaults from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP delivers two-way firewall protection, intrusion alerts, endpoint control, and web filtering via cutting-edge tools incorporated within a single agent accessible from a single control. Progent's data protection and virtualization consultants can help your business to design and implement a ProSight ESP deployment that addresses your company's unique needs and that allows you demonstrate compliance with government and industry information protection standards. Progent will assist you specify and implement security policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and react to alarms that call for immediate action. Progent's consultants can also assist you to install and test a backup and restore solution such as ProSight Data Protection Services so you can recover quickly from a potentially disastrous security attack like ransomware. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified physical and virtual endpoint protection and Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery Services
    Progent has worked with leading backup software providers to create ProSight Data Protection Services, a portfolio of subscription-based management outsourcing plans that deliver backup-as-a-service. ProSight DPS products manage and track your backup operations and allow non-disruptive backup and fast recovery of vital files, applications, images, and Hyper-V and VMware virtual machines. ProSight DPS lets you protect against data loss caused by equipment breakdown, natural disasters, fire, malware such as ransomware, user mistakes, ill-intentioned insiders, or software glitches. Managed services in the ProSight Data Protection Services portfolio include ProSight Ataro VM Backup, ProSight Ataro Office 365 Total Backup, ProSight ECHO Backup based on Barracuda dedicated hardware, and ProSight MSP360 Cloud and On-prem Backup. Your Progent expert can assist you to determine which of these fully managed 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 incorporates the infrastructure of leading information security companies to provide centralized management and world-class protection for your email traffic. The powerful structure of Progent's Email Guard integrates cloud-based filtering with an on-premises security gateway device to provide advanced defense against spam, viruses, Denial of Service Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks (DHAs), and other email-borne malware. The cloud filter serves as a preliminary barricade and keeps the vast majority of threats from reaching your network firewall. This decreases your exposure to external threats and saves system bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's on-premises security gateway device provides a further layer of analysis for incoming email. For outbound email, the on-premises security gateway offers anti-virus and anti-spam protection, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The onsite security gateway can also help Exchange Server to track and safeguard internal email traffic that originates and ends inside your corporate firewall. For more details, see 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 inexpensive for smaller businesses to map out, monitor, enhance and troubleshoot their connectivity hardware like switches, firewalls, and access points plus servers, printers, client computers and other networked devices. Using state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, ProSight WAN Watch makes sure that infrastructure topology diagrams are kept current, captures and displays the configuration information of almost all devices on your network, tracks performance, and generates alerts when problems are detected. By automating tedious management activities, WAN Watch can knock hours off ordinary chores like making network diagrams, expanding your network, finding appliances that require important software patches, or resolving performance problems. Find out more about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progent's server and desktop remote monitoring service that uses state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management technology to help keep your IT system operating at peak levels by tracking the health of critical assets that power your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch detects a problem, an alarm is sent automatically to your designated IT management personnel and your assigned Progent consultant so all potential problems can be addressed before they have a chance to disrupt productivity. Find out more details about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring consulting.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted Virtual Machines at Progent's World-class Data Center
    With ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size business can have its key servers and apps hosted in a secure fault tolerant data center on a fast virtual host set up and managed by Progent's network support professionals. Under the ProSight Virtual Hosting service model, the customer owns 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 a time-consuming and technically risky reinstallation procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not tied one hosting service. Learn more 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 capture, update, find and safeguard information related to your IT infrastructure, processes, business apps, and services. You can instantly locate passwords or serial numbers and be warned automatically about upcoming expirations of SSLs or domains. By cleaning up and organizing your network documentation, you can save up to 50% of time thrown away trying to find vital information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a common location for storing and collaborating on all documents related to managing your network infrastructure like standard operating procedures and self-service instructions. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports advanced automation for gathering and associating IT information. Whether you're planning enhancements, doing maintenance, or responding to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management gets you the information you need as soon as you need it. Learn more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.

  • Active Defense Against Ransomware: AI-based Ransomware Identification and Cleanup
    Progent's Active Protection Against Ransomware is an endpoint protection (EPP) managed service that utilizes next generation behavior-based analysis tools to guard endpoint devices and servers and VMs against new malware assaults such as ransomware and email phishing, which easily evade traditional signature-matching AV products. Progent Active Security Monitoring services safeguard local and cloud-based resources and offers a single platform to automate the complete malware attack progression including protection, identification, containment, cleanup, and forensics. Top features include one-click rollback using Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and real-time system-wide immunization against new threats. Read more about Progent's ransomware protection and recovery services.

  • Outsourced/Co-managed Service Center: Help Desk Managed Services
    Progent's Call Desk managed services enable your information technology team to offload Help Desk services to Progent or split activity for Service Desk support seamlessly between your in-house support staff and Progent's extensive pool of IT service technicians, engineers and subject matter experts (SMEs). Progent's Co-managed Service Desk offers a smooth extension of your internal IT support group. Client interaction with the Help Desk, delivery of support, issue escalation, trouble ticket generation and updates, performance metrics, and maintenance of the support database are consistent regardless of whether incidents are taken care of by your corporate IT support staff, by Progent, or by a combination. Read more about Progent's outsourced/co-managed Call Desk services.

  • Progent's Patch Management: Patch Management Services
    Progent's managed services for patch management provide businesses of all sizes a flexible and affordable solution for assessing, validating, scheduling, implementing, and tracking updates to your dynamic IT system. Besides maximizing the protection and reliability of your IT environment, Progent's software/firmware update management services permit your IT team to focus on more strategic projects and tasks that deliver the highest business value from your network. Read more about Progent's patch management support services.

  • ProSight Duo Multi-Factor Authentication: Access Security, Endpoint Remediation, and Protected Single Sign-on
    Progent's Duo authentication managed services utilize Cisco's Duo cloud technology to defend against password theft through the use of two-factor authentication. Duo supports single-tap identity confirmation on Apple iOS, Google Android, and other personal devices. Using 2FA, when you log into a secured online account and enter your password you are requested to confirm who you are on a device that only you possess and that is accessed using a separate network channel. A wide range of devices can be utilized for this second means of ID validation including an iPhone or Android or wearable, a hardware/software token, a landline telephone, etc. You can register multiple verification devices. For details about ProSight Duo two-factor identity validation services, visit Cisco Duo MFA two-factor authentication services.
For Colorado Springs 24-7 Ransomware Cleanup Support Services, call Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.