Crypto-Ransomware : Your Feared IT Nightmare
Crypto-Ransomware has become a modern cyberplague that represents an existential threat for organizations vulnerable to an attack. Different iterations of ransomware like the Dharma, Fusob, Locky, Syskey and MongoLock cryptoworms have been circulating for years and continue to inflict destruction. Recent strains of crypto-ransomware like Ryuk and Hermes, plus frequent as yet unnamed newcomers, not only encrypt on-line information but also infiltrate any accessible system restores and backups. Data synchronized to cloud environments can also be encrypted. In a poorly architected data protection solution, it can make automated recovery hopeless and basically sets the network back to square one.
Getting back online programs and information after a ransomware outage becomes a race against the clock as the victim tries its best to stop lateral movement and clear the ransomware and to restore mission-critical activity. Because crypto-ransomware requires time to replicate, attacks are frequently sprung at night, when successful penetrations in many cases take more time to notice. This multiplies the difficulty of rapidly assembling and coordinating a capable mitigation team.
Progent offers a range of help services for securing organizations from ransomware events. Among these are staff training to help recognize and not fall victim to phishing exploits, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, in addition to setup and configuration of next-generation security gateways with machine learning technology to automatically discover and suppress day-zero cyber threats. Progent in addition offers the assistance of expert ransomware recovery engineers with the talent and perseverance to rebuild a breached environment as urgently as possible.
Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Restoration Services
Soon after a ransomware penetration, even paying the ransom in cryptocurrency does not guarantee that distant criminals will respond with the keys to decipher all your data. Kaspersky Labs ascertained that seventeen percent of crypto-ransomware victims never restored their information even after having paid the ransom, resulting in more losses. The gamble is also costly. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly higher than the usual ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be approximately $13,000. The fallback is to setup from scratch the essential components of your Information Technology environment. Absent the availability of essential data backups, this requires a wide complement of skills, well-coordinated team management, and the ability to work continuously until the task is over.
For decades, Progent has made available expert IT services for companies in Mission Viejo and throughout the U.S. and has achieved Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts includes professionals who have attained advanced industry certifications in leading technologies such as Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity consultants have garnered internationally-recognized industry certifications including CISA, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent also has expertise in financial systems and ERP applications. This breadth of experience affords Progent the skills to efficiently determine important systems and re-organize the remaining pieces of your Information Technology environment following a ransomware event and rebuild them into an operational network.
Progent's security team uses top notch project management applications to orchestrate the complex recovery process. Progent knows the urgency of acting quickly and together with a client's management and IT staff to assign priority to tasks and to get key systems back on-line as fast as humanly possible.
Client Story: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Virus Response
A client hired Progent after their organization was penetrated by the Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been deployed by Northern Korean state sponsored hackers, suspected of using technology leaked from the United States NSA organization. Ryuk goes after specific organizations with limited ability to sustain disruption and is among the most lucrative instances of ransomware viruses. Well Known targets include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a regional manufacturing company based in Chicago and has around 500 workers. The Ryuk intrusion had shut down all business operations and manufacturing capabilities. The majority of the client's system backups had been online at the start of the attack and were destroyed. The client considered paying the ransom (exceeding $200,000) and wishfully thinking for good luck, but ultimately called Progent.
"I cannot speak enough about the care Progent provided us during the most stressful time of (our) businesses life. We most likely would have paid the cybercriminals if not for the confidence the Progent team provided us. That you could get our messaging and important applications back on-line quicker than 1 week was incredible. Every single staff member I got help from or texted at Progent was urgently focused on getting our system up and was working 24 by 7 on our behalf."
Progent worked with the client to rapidly identify and prioritize the critical areas that had to be restored in order to resume company operations:
To get going, Progent followed Anti-virus event response best practices by isolating and clearing up compromised systems. Progent then began the task of bringing back online Active Directory, the core of enterprise systems built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Microsoft Exchange Server messaging will not work without Windows AD, and the customerís MRP system used Microsoft SQL Server, which requires Active Directory services for authentication to the data.
- Microsoft Active Directory
- Accounting and Manufacturing Software
Within two days, Progent was able to restore Windows Active Directory to its pre-penetration state. Progent then performed rebuilding and hard drive recovery of key applications. All Exchange Server schema and configuration information were usable, which facilitated the restore of Exchange. Progent was able to assemble local OST data files (Outlook Email Off-Line Folder Files) on user PCs and laptops in order to recover mail messages. A recent offline backup of the client's manufacturing software made them able to return these required services back online for users. Although major work remained to recover completely from the Ryuk event, core services were returned to operations rapidly:
"For the most part, the production manufacturing operation showed little impact and we produced all customer shipments."
During the next few weeks important milestones in the restoration project were accomplished in close cooperation between Progent engineers and the customer:
- Self-hosted web sites were returned to operation without losing any data.
- The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server exceeding four million historical emails was brought on-line and accessible to users.
- CRM/Orders/Invoices/AP/Accounts Receivables/Inventory Control capabilities were 100% restored.
- A new Palo Alto Networks 850 security appliance was installed.
- Nearly all of the user desktops were being used by staff.
"A lot of what happened that first week is nearly entirely a fog for me, but I will not soon forget the commitment all of you accomplished to help get our business back. Iíve entrusted Progent for the past ten years, possibly more, and each time Progent has outperformed my expectations and delivered. This situation was a Herculean accomplishment."
A potential business-ending catastrophe was averted with hard-working professionals, a broad range of knowledge, and tight collaboration. Although in hindsight the crypto-ransomware incident detailed here would have been identified and prevented with current cyber security technology solutions and security best practices, user and IT administrator education, and well thought out security procedures for backup and applying software patches, the fact is that state-sponsored cybercriminals from China, 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 roster of experts has extensive experience in ransomware virus blocking, cleanup, and file disaster recovery.
"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others who were involved), Iím grateful for letting me get some sleep after we got past the initial push. Everyone did an amazing job, and if anyone is around the Chicago area, a great meal is my treat!"
To read or download a PDF version of this customer story, click:
Progent's Ransomware Virus Recovery Case Study Datasheet. (PDF - 282 KB)
Additional Crypto-Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent can provide companies in Mission Viejo a portfolio of online monitoring and security assessment services to help you to minimize your vulnerability to crypto-ransomware. These services include next-generation machine learning capability to detect new variants of ransomware that are able to escape detection by traditional signature-based anti-virus solutions.
For 24-7 Mission Viejo Crypto Repair Help, reach out to Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.
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- ProSight IT Asset Management: Network Documentation Management
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