Ransomware : Your Crippling Information Technology Disaster
Ransomware  Remediation ExpertsCrypto-Ransomware has become a too-frequent cyber pandemic that poses an extinction-level danger for organizations unprepared for an attack. Different versions of ransomware like the CrySIS, CryptoWall, Bad Rabbit, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been running rampant for many years and continue to inflict harm. Newer variants of crypto-ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, Conti or Nephilim, plus daily as yet unnamed malware, not only do encryption of online data files but also infect many accessible system backups. Information synchronized to cloud environments can also be corrupted. In a vulnerable environment, this can render automatic recovery useless and effectively sets the entire system back to zero.

Retrieving applications and data after a crypto-ransomware attack becomes a race against the clock as the victim tries its best to contain the damage and cleanup the ransomware and to restore mission-critical operations. Because ransomware needs time to spread, penetrations are usually launched during weekends and nights, when penetrations are likely to take more time to detect. This multiplies the difficulty of promptly assembling and organizing an experienced mitigation team.

Progent offers an assortment of support services for securing enterprises from crypto-ransomware penetrations. Among these are user education to help recognize and avoid phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, in addition to installation of modern security solutions with artificial intelligence capabilities to intelligently detect and suppress day-zero threats. Progent also can provide the assistance of expert crypto-ransomware recovery engineers with the track record and commitment to restore a compromised environment as quickly as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Recovery Support Services
Subsequent to a crypto-ransomware event, even paying the ransom demands in cryptocurrency does not ensure that merciless criminals will provide the keys to decipher any or all of your information. Kaspersky ascertained that 17% of ransomware victims never recovered their files after having sent off the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The gamble is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly above the average ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be in the range of $13,000. The other path is to re-install the essential elements of your Information Technology environment. Without the availability of complete data backups, this requires a broad complement of IT skills, well-coordinated team management, and the ability to work 24x7 until the task is completed.

For decades, Progent has provided certified expert IT services for businesses in Montgomery and throughout the U.S. and has achieved Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes professionals who have attained advanced industry certifications in foundation technologies like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity engineers have earned internationally-recognized certifications including CISA, CISSP-ISSAP, ISACA CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise in financial management and ERP application software. This breadth of experience provides Progent the ability to rapidly understand important systems and re-organize the surviving parts of your network environment after a ransomware penetration and rebuild them into a functioning system.

Progent's security team utilizes state-of-the-art project management applications to coordinate the complicated restoration process. Progent knows the importance of acting swiftly and in unison with a client's management and IT team members to prioritize tasks and to get essential systems back online as soon as humanly possible.

Customer Story: A Successful Ransomware Virus Response
A client hired Progent after their organization was brought down by Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is believed to have been created by Northern Korean state criminal gangs, possibly using approaches exposed from Americaís National Security Agency. Ryuk seeks specific organizations with little tolerance for disruption and is one of the most profitable incarnations of ransomware viruses. High publicized targets include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a single-location manufacturing company headquartered in Chicago and has about 500 employees. 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 pursuing financing for paying the ransom (in excess of $200,000) and wishfully thinking for good luck, but in the end called Progent.


"I canít tell you enough about the help Progent gave us during the most stressful time of (our) companyís life. We had little choice but to pay the hackers behind this attack if not for the confidence the Progent experts provided us. The fact that you could get our messaging and production applications back into operation faster than five days was earth shattering. Every single expert I talked with or communicated with at Progent was hell bent on getting us working again and was working all day and night on our behalf."

Progent worked hand in hand the customer to rapidly assess and assign priority to the most important services that needed to be addressed to make it possible to restart company operations:

  • Active Directory
  • Exchange Server
  • Accounting and Manufacturing Software
To start, Progent adhered to AV/Malware Processes penetration mitigation industry best practices by isolating and removing active viruses. Progent then started the task of recovering Windows Active Directory, the core of enterprise environments built on Microsoft Windows technology. Microsoft Exchange messaging will not work without Windows AD, and the customerís financials and MRP system leveraged Microsoft SQL, which needs Active Directory for authentication to the information.

In less than two days, Progent was able to restore Active Directory to its pre-virus state. Progent then accomplished rebuilding and hard drive recovery of key applications. All Microsoft Exchange Server schema and configuration information were usable, which accelerated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was also able to assemble non-encrypted OST data files (Microsoft Outlook Off-Line Data Files) on team desktop computers and laptops in order to recover mail data. A recent offline backup of the customerís financials/ERP systems made it possible to recover these essential programs back servicing users. Although significant work remained to recover totally from the Ryuk attack, the most important systems were restored rapidly:


"For the most part, the production line operation survived unscathed and we delivered all customer sales."

Over the next few weeks important milestones in the recovery project were achieved through tight cooperation between Progent engineers and the client:

  • Self-hosted web applications were brought back up with no loss of information.
  • The MailStore Exchange Server with over four million historical messages was brought online and available for users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoicing/Accounts Payable (AP)/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory functions were 100 percent restored.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 firewall was brought on-line.
  • Most of the user desktops were fully operational.

"Much of what occurred during the initial response is nearly entirely a haze for me, but I will not forget the care all of the team put in to give us our business back. I have been working together with Progent for at least 10 years, maybe more, and every time I needed help Progent has impressed me and delivered as promised. This event was a stunning achievement."

Conclusion
A likely business-killing disaster was evaded through the efforts of top-tier professionals, a wide spectrum of IT skills, and close teamwork. Although in retrospect the crypto-ransomware virus attack described here could have been identified and disabled with current security technology and recognized best practices, team training, and properly executed incident response procedures for backup and applying software patches, the reality is that government-sponsored cybercriminals from China, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and are an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a crypto-ransomware virus, feel confident that Progent's team of experts has substantial experience in ransomware virus defense, mitigation, and information systems recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Tony and Chris (along with others who were contributing), thanks very much for letting me get rested after we made it past the initial push. Everyone did an amazing job, and if any of your guys is in the Chicago area, dinner is my treat!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent can provide businesses in Montgomery a variety of online monitoring and security assessment services to assist you to reduce your vulnerability to ransomware. These services include next-generation machine learning capability to uncover new strains of crypto-ransomware that can escape detection by legacy signature-based anti-virus products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) is an endpoint protection (EPP) service that utilizes cutting edge behavior machine learning technology to guard physical and virtual endpoints against modern malware attacks like ransomware and email phishing, which easily get by legacy signature-based AV products. ProSight Active Security Monitoring safeguards local and cloud-based resources and offers a single platform to automate the entire malware attack lifecycle including protection, identification, containment, remediation, and post-attack forensics. Key capabilities include one-click rollback with Windows VSS and automatic network-wide immunization against newly discovered threats. Read more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Physical and Virtual Endpoint Security and Exchange Email Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) services offer economical multi-layer security for physical servers and VMs, workstations, smartphones, and Exchange Server. ProSight ESP uses adaptive security and advanced machine learning for continuously monitoring and responding to security assaults from all vectors. ProSight ESP provides two-way firewall protection, intrusion alarms, device control, and web filtering via cutting-edge tools packaged within a single agent managed from a single console. Progent's data protection and virtualization experts can assist you to plan and configure a ProSight ESP environment that addresses your company's specific requirements and that helps you achieve and demonstrate compliance with government and industry data protection standards. Progent will assist you specify and configure policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and react to alarms that require urgent action. Progent's consultants can also help your company to set up and test a backup and disaster recovery system such as ProSight Data Protection Services so you can get back in business quickly from a potentially disastrous security attack such as ransomware. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified physical and virtual endpoint security and Microsoft Exchange filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services provide small and mid-sized organizations a low cost end-to-end service for reliable backup/disaster recovery. For a low monthly price, ProSight DPS automates and monitors your backup processes and enables rapid restoration of vital files, applications and VMs that have become unavailable or corrupted due to hardware breakdowns, software bugs, natural disasters, human error, or malware attacks like ransomware. ProSight DPS can help you protect, retrieve and restore files, folders, applications, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Critical data can be backed up on the cloud, to an on-promises storage device, or to both. Progent's cloud backup consultants can provide world-class expertise to set up ProSight DPS to to comply with regulatory requirements like HIPAA, FINRA, and PCI and, whenever needed, can assist you to recover your critical information. Learn 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 technology of top data security companies to provide web-based control and world-class security for your inbound and outbound email. The hybrid architecture of Progent's Email Guard combines cloud-based filtering with a local security gateway device to provide advanced defense against spam, viruses, Dos Attacks, DHAs, and other email-borne threats. Email Guard's cloud filter acts as a first line of defense and keeps most threats from making it to your security perimeter. This decreases your exposure to external threats and conserves system bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's on-premises gateway appliance provides a deeper level of analysis for inbound email. For outbound email, the on-premises security gateway provides anti-virus and anti-spam protection, DLP, and email encryption. The onsite gateway can also help Microsoft Exchange Server to track and safeguard internal email traffic that originates and ends inside your security perimeter. For more information, see Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Network Infrastructure Management
    Progentís ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure monitoring and management service that makes it easy and inexpensive for smaller businesses to diagram, monitor, reconfigure and debug their networking hardware like routers and switches, firewalls, and load balancers as well as servers, endpoints and other networked devices. Incorporating state-of-the-art RMM technology, ProSight WAN Watch makes sure that network maps are kept updated, captures and displays the configuration of almost all devices connected to your network, monitors performance, and sends alerts when potential issues are detected. By automating complex network management processes, ProSight WAN Watch can cut hours off common chores like network mapping, reconfiguring your network, finding devices that require important software patches, or identifying the cause of performance issues. Find out more about ProSight WAN Watch network infrastructure monitoring and management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Remote Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop monitoring managed service that incorporates state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management technology to help keep your IT system operating efficiently by tracking the health of vital computers that power your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch detects an issue, an alarm is transmitted automatically to your specified IT management staff and your assigned Progent consultant so that all looming problems can be addressed before they have a chance to impact productivity. Find out more details 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 business can have its critical servers and applications hosted in a secure fault tolerant data center on a high-performance virtual host configured and managed by Progent's network support experts. Under the ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the client retains ownership of the data, the OS platforms, and the applications. Because the system is virtualized, it can be ported immediately to an alternate hosting environment without requiring a time-consuming and difficult reinstallation process. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not locked into a single hosting provider. 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 create, maintain, find and safeguard information related to your network infrastructure, procedures, business apps, and services. You can quickly locate passwords or IP addresses and be warned about impending expirations of SSLs ,domains or warranties. By cleaning up and organizing your IT infrastructure documentation, you can eliminate as much as half of time wasted trying to find vital information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a centralized repository for holding and collaborating on all documents required for managing your network infrastructure like standard operating procedures and self-service instructions. ProSight IT Asset Management also offers a high level of automation for gathering and associating IT data. Whether youíre making improvements, doing regular maintenance, or responding to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the knowledge you need when you need it. Find out more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Montgomery 24/7 Ransomware Recovery Consultants, contact Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.