Ransomware : Your Worst IT Catastrophe
Ransomware  Remediation ProfessionalsRansomware has become a modern cyberplague that represents an extinction-level threat for organizations poorly prepared for an attack. Different iterations of crypto-ransomware like the Dharma, CryptoWall, Locky, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been out in the wild for years and still inflict havoc. Recent strains of ransomware like Ryuk and Hermes, plus daily as yet unnamed viruses, not only do encryption of on-line data but also infiltrate any available system backup. Files replicated to the cloud can also be ransomed. In a poorly architected environment, it can render automatic recovery hopeless and effectively sets the datacenter back to square one.

Restoring applications and data after a ransomware outage becomes a race against the clock as the targeted business fights to stop lateral movement and remove the crypto-ransomware and to resume business-critical operations. Since crypto-ransomware takes time to move laterally, assaults are often launched at night, when successful penetrations are likely to take more time to notice. This compounds the difficulty of quickly marshalling and coordinating an experienced mitigation team.

Progent has a variety of help services for protecting enterprises from crypto-ransomware attacks. Among these are staff training to help recognize and avoid phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, in addition to deployment of next-generation security appliances with AI technology to rapidly identify and disable day-zero cyber attacks. Progent also offers the services of veteran ransomware recovery consultants with the talent and commitment to re-deploy a breached system as urgently as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Support Services
After a crypto-ransomware event, even paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not provide any assurance that merciless criminals will respond with the needed codes to decipher all your files. Kaspersky ascertained that seventeen percent of crypto-ransomware victims never restored their data after having sent off the ransom, resulting in more losses. The risk is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms frequently range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly higher than the usual crypto-ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be approximately $13,000. The alternative is to piece back together the vital components of your Information Technology environment. Without the availability of essential information backups, this requires a broad complement of skills, professional project management, and the willingness to work non-stop until the job is over.

For two decades, Progent has provided certified expert IT services for businesses in Appleton and across the US and has achieved Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts includes consultants who have earned advanced certifications in leading technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security consultants have earned internationally-recognized industry certifications including CISA, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has experience with financial management and ERP software solutions. This breadth of experience provides Progent the capability to quickly determine necessary systems and consolidate the remaining components of your network system following a crypto-ransomware event and configure them into a functioning network.

Progent's ransomware team uses powerful project management systems to coordinate the complex recovery process. Progent appreciates the urgency of acting quickly and in unison with a customerís management and IT staff to prioritize tasks and to put key systems back on line as fast as possible.

Customer Case Study: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Incident Restoration
A small business escalated to Progent after their company was brought down by the Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is believed to have been created by North Korean state criminal gangs, suspected of adopting techniques leaked from the United States National Security Agency. Ryuk goes after specific companies with limited ability to sustain disruption and is among the most lucrative versions of ransomware malware. Headline victims include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a small manufacturing company based in the Chicago metro area with around 500 employees. The Ryuk attack had paralyzed all essential operations and manufacturing capabilities. The majority of the client's data backups had been on-line at the start of the intrusion and were destroyed. The client was pursuing financing for paying the ransom (more than two hundred thousand dollars) and hoping for good luck, but ultimately engaged Progent.


"I canít speak enough about the help Progent provided us during the most fearful time of (our) companyís survival. We would have paid the cyber criminals behind the attack except for the confidence the Progent experts gave us. The fact that you were able to get our e-mail and key servers back on-line faster than one week was earth shattering. Each consultant I interacted with or texted at Progent was urgently focused on getting us operational and was working all day and night to bail us out."

Progent worked hand in hand the customer to rapidly identify and prioritize the essential applications that had to be recovered to make it possible to continue business operations:

  • Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Financials/MRP
To start, Progent followed Anti-virus incident mitigation industry best practices by stopping the spread and clearing infected systems. Progent then initiated the steps of restoring Microsoft Active Directory, the heart of enterprise environments built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Microsoft Exchange messaging will not work without AD, and the businessesí financials and MRP system utilized Microsoft SQL Server, which requires Active Directory for security authorization to the information.

Within 2 days, Progent was able to rebuild Windows Active Directory to its pre-intrusion state. Progent then completed rebuilding and storage recovery of key applications. All Exchange Server data and configuration information were intact, which accelerated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was able to assemble non-encrypted OST data files (Outlook Off-Line Folder Files) on user PCs and laptops in order to recover mail information. A recent off-line backup of the businesses accounting/MRP software made them able to restore these vital services back online for users. Although a lot of work was left to recover totally from the Ryuk virus, core systems were returned to operations quickly:


"For the most part, the production manufacturing operation never missed a beat and we did not miss any customer orders."

Over the following couple of weeks important milestones in the recovery process were completed through close collaboration between Progent consultants and the client:

  • Self-hosted web applications were brought back up with no loss of data.
  • The MailStore Server exceeding four million archived emails was spun up and available for users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoices/Accounts Payable (AP)/Accounts Receivables/Inventory functions were completely operational.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 firewall was installed and configured.
  • Nearly all of the desktops and laptops were fully operational.

"A lot of what was accomplished during the initial response is mostly a haze for me, but I will not forget the countless hours each and every one of you accomplished to help get our company back. I have trusted Progent for at least 10 years, maybe more, and every time I needed help Progent has come through and delivered as promised. This time was a stunning achievement."

Conclusion
A possible company-ending catastrophe was averted through the efforts of results-oriented experts, a wide array of technical expertise, and tight collaboration. Although in retrospect the ransomware attack described here should have been prevented with modern cyber security systems and NIST Cybersecurity Framework best practices, user training, and well designed security procedures for information protection and proper patching controls, the reality remains that state-sponsored criminal cyber gangs from Russia, China and elsewhere are relentless and are not going away. If you do get hit by a ransomware virus, remember that Progent's team of experts has proven experience in ransomware virus blocking, removal, and data disaster recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others who were contributing), Iím grateful for letting me get some sleep after we got through the most critical parts. Everyone did an impressive job, and if anyone is visiting the Chicago area, a great meal is my treat!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent offers companies in Appleton a variety of remote monitoring and security assessment services designed to assist you to reduce the threat from ransomware. These services incorporate modern artificial intelligence capability to uncover zero-day strains of ransomware that can evade traditional signature-based security products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) is an endpoint protection (EPP) solution that incorporates next generation behavior-based machine learning technology to defend physical and virtual endpoint devices against new malware attacks such as ransomware and email phishing, which easily escape legacy signature-matching AV products. ProSight ASM safeguards on-premises and cloud-based resources and offers a unified platform to manage the entire threat progression including protection, identification, mitigation, cleanup, and post-attack forensics. Key features include one-click rollback using Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and real-time network-wide immunization against new attacks. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Endpoint Protection and Microsoft Exchange Email Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection services offer ultra-affordable in-depth security for physical servers and virtual machines, desktops, smartphones, and Microsoft Exchange. ProSight ESP uses adaptive security and advanced machine learning for round-the-clock monitoring and responding to security assaults from all vectors. ProSight ESP offers firewall protection, penetration alerts, endpoint control, and web filtering through cutting-edge tools incorporated within a single agent accessible from a single control. Progent's data protection and virtualization consultants can assist you to plan and configure a ProSight ESP environment that meets your organization's unique needs and that helps you demonstrate compliance with legal and industry data security standards. Progent will help you define and implement policies that ProSight ESP will manage, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and respond to alerts that require urgent attention. Progent's consultants can also assist your company to install and test a backup and disaster recovery solution like ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can get back in business rapidly from a destructive security attack like 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 from Progent offer small and medium-sized organizations an affordable end-to-end solution for reliable backup/disaster recovery. For a fixed monthly rate, ProSight Data Protection Services automates and monitors your backup processes and allows fast restoration of critical files, apps and virtual machines that have become lost or corrupted as a result of hardware breakdowns, software bugs, disasters, human mistakes, or malicious attacks like ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you protect, retrieve and restore files, folders, applications, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware images/. Critical data can be backed up on the cloud, to an on-promises storage device, or mirrored to both. Progent's BDR consultants can deliver advanced expertise to set up ProSight DPS to be compliant with regulatory standards such as HIPPA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever necessary, can help you to restore your business-critical data. 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 and virus filtering service that uses the infrastructure of leading data security vendors to provide web-based management and world-class security for your email traffic. The hybrid structure of Email Guard managed service integrates a Cloud Protection Layer with an on-premises security gateway device to provide complete protection against spam, viruses, Denial of Service Attacks, DHAs, and other email-borne malware. The cloud filter serves as a first line of defense and blocks the vast majority of unwanted email from reaching your network firewall. This reduces your exposure to external attacks and conserves system bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's on-premises gateway appliance adds a further level of analysis for incoming email. For outgoing email, the on-premises security gateway provides anti-virus and anti-spam protection, DLP, and email encryption. The onsite security gateway can also help Microsoft Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard internal email that originates and ends inside your corporate firewall. For more information, see Email Guard spam and content filtering.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Infrastructure Remote Monitoring and Management
    ProSight WAN Watch is a network infrastructure management service that makes it easy and inexpensive for small and mid-sized businesses to map, track, reconfigure and troubleshoot their networking hardware such as switches, firewalls, and load balancers plus servers, endpoints and other networked devices. Incorporating state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management technology, WAN Watch makes sure that infrastructure topology maps are always current, captures and displays the configuration information of virtually all devices connected to your network, tracks performance, and generates notices when problems are detected. By automating time-consuming management activities, WAN Watch can cut hours off ordinary tasks like network mapping, reconfiguring your network, finding appliances that require important software patches, or identifying the cause of performance problems. Learn more details about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop remote monitoring service that incorporates advanced remote monitoring and management techniques to keep your IT system running at peak levels by tracking the health of vital computers that power your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch detects a problem, an alert is transmitted automatically to your designated IT staff and your Progent consultant so all potential problems can be resolved before they have a chance to impact your network. Learn more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring consulting.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted Virtual Machines at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small business can have its key servers and applications hosted in a protected fault tolerant data center on a fast virtual machine host set up and maintained by Progent's network support professionals. With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service model, the customer 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 a time-consuming and difficult reinstallation process. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not tied a single hosting service. 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 allows you to capture, maintain, retrieve and safeguard information related to your network infrastructure, processes, applications, and services. You can quickly find passwords or IP addresses and be alerted about impending expirations of SSL certificates or domains. By updating and managing your IT infrastructure documentation, you can eliminate as much as half of time wasted trying to find vital information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a centralized location for holding and collaborating on all documents related to managing your network infrastructure like recommended procedures and self-service instructions. ProSight IT Asset Management also offers advanced automation for gathering and associating IT information. Whether youíre making improvements, doing maintenance, or reacting to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the knowledge you require as soon as you need it. Learn more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Appleton 24x7 Crypto Cleanup Consulting, reach out to Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.