Crypto-Ransomware : Your Crippling IT Disaster
Ransomware  Remediation ProfessionalsRansomware has become a modern cyberplague that represents an enterprise-level threat for organizations poorly prepared for an assault. Versions of ransomware like the CryptoLocker, WannaCry, Bad Rabbit, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been circulating for many years and continue to inflict harm. The latest variants of ransomware like Ryuk and Hermes, plus daily as yet unnamed newcomers, not only do encryption of on-line information but also infiltrate all available system backup. Information synched to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be corrupted. In a poorly designed system, it can make automatic restore operations hopeless and effectively knocks the datacenter back to zero.

Restoring services and information following a ransomware attack becomes a race against time as the targeted business tries its best to stop the spread and remove the ransomware and to resume mission-critical activity. Because crypto-ransomware takes time to move laterally, penetrations are often launched at night, when penetrations may take more time to identify. This compounds the difficulty of promptly assembling and organizing a qualified mitigation team.

Progent makes available an assortment of services for protecting businesses from ransomware penetrations. Among these are staff education to help recognize and not fall victim to phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, along with setup and configuration of the latest generation security gateways with artificial intelligence capabilities to intelligently identify and suppress day-zero threats. Progent also offers the services of experienced ransomware recovery consultants with the skills and perseverance to rebuild a breached system as quickly as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Help
Following a ransomware attack, paying the ransom in cryptocurrency does not ensure that merciless criminals will return the keys to decipher any or all of your information. Kaspersky Labs estimated that 17% of ransomware victims never recovered their data even after having sent off the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The risk is also costly. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly higher than the typical ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be around $13,000. The fallback is to piece back together the key elements of your IT environment. Absent access to full information backups, this requires a broad range of skills, professional team management, and the ability to work 24x7 until the task is completed.

For twenty years, Progent has made available expert IT services for businesses in Philadelphia and across the US and has earned Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts includes consultants who have been awarded advanced industry certifications in key technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity experts have garnered internationally-renowned industry certifications including CISA, CISSP, CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (Refer to Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has experience in financial management and ERP software solutions. This breadth of experience affords Progent the ability to rapidly determine critical systems and consolidate the remaining parts of your Information Technology system after a ransomware attack and assemble them into a functioning system.

Progent's ransomware group utilizes top notch project management tools to orchestrate the sophisticated restoration process. Progent knows the importance of acting rapidly and in unison with a customerís management and Information Technology team members to assign priority to tasks and to get the most important applications back on line as fast as possible.

Client Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Penetration Recovery
A small business escalated to Progent after their organization was taken over by Ryuk ransomware virus. Ryuk is thought to have been developed by Northern Korean government sponsored cybercriminals, possibly using strategies exposed from the U.S. NSA organization. Ryuk goes after specific organizations with little or no room for operational disruption and is among the most lucrative examples of ransomware malware. High publicized organizations include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a small manufacturing business located in the Chicago metro area with around 500 staff members. The Ryuk attack had brought down all company operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's backups had been directly accessible at the beginning of the attack and were destroyed. The client was taking steps for paying the ransom (in excess of $200,000) and hoping for the best, but ultimately called Progent.


"I cannot thank you enough about the help Progent gave us throughout the most fearful time of (our) companyís existence. We most likely would have paid the cyber criminals behind the attack if not for the confidence the Progent team provided us. The fact that you were able to get our messaging and important applications back on-line faster than five days was something I thought impossible. Every single person I worked with or messaged at Progent was urgently focused on getting our system up and was working 24/7 on our behalf."

Progent worked together with the client to quickly determine and prioritize the key elements that needed to be recovered in order to resume business operations:

  • Windows Active Directory
  • Electronic Messaging
  • Accounting/MRP
To start, Progent adhered to AV/Malware Processes penetration response best practices by stopping lateral movement and clearing infected systems. Progent then initiated the task of recovering Active Directory, the key technology of enterprise systems built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Microsoft Exchange Server email will not work without AD, and the customerís accounting and MRP applications utilized Microsoft SQL Server, which depends on Active Directory services for access to the information.

Within 2 days, Progent was able to re-build Windows Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then initiated setup and hard drive recovery of needed applications. All Exchange Server schema and configuration information were intact, which facilitated the restore of Exchange. Progent was able to collect intact OST data files (Microsoft Outlook Offline Folder Files) on user workstations in order to recover email information. A not too old offline backup of the businesses manufacturing systems made them able to return these vital services back available to users. Although major work needed to be completed to recover totally from the Ryuk damage, core systems were returned to operations rapidly:


"For the most part, the manufacturing operation never missed a beat and we made all customer sales."

Over the next couple of weeks critical milestones in the recovery process were accomplished through close collaboration between Progent team members and the customer:

  • Self-hosted web applications were restored with no loss of data.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server with over 4 million archived emails was brought on-line and available for users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoices/Accounts Payable (AP)/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory Control capabilities were 100% restored.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was deployed.
  • Ninety percent of the user desktops and notebooks were operational.

"So much of what occurred that first week is nearly entirely a blur for me, but my management will not soon forget the dedication all of the team put in to help get our company back. I have utilized Progent for the past 10 years, possibly more, and every time Progent has outperformed my expectations and delivered. This situation was the most impressive ever."

Conclusion
A potential business disaster was dodged with results-oriented experts, a broad array of IT skills, and tight teamwork. Although in analyzing the event afterwards the crypto-ransomware virus incident described here should have been disabled with current security systems and NIST Cybersecurity Framework best practices, user education, and appropriate security procedures for backup and proper patching controls, the reality remains that state-sponsored hackers from China, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and represent an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a crypto-ransomware incursion, feel confident that Progent's roster of professionals has extensive experience in ransomware virus defense, cleanup, and data recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (along with others that were helping), Iím grateful for allowing me to get rested after we got past the most critical parts. Everyone did an fabulous effort, and if any of your guys is around the Chicago area, dinner is the least I can do!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent offers businesses in Philadelphia a variety of remote monitoring and security evaluation services to help you to minimize the threat from ransomware. These services incorporate modern AI technology to uncover zero-day strains of crypto-ransomware that are able to evade traditional 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 utilizes cutting edge behavior machine learning tools to defend physical and virtual endpoints against modern malware attacks such as ransomware and file-less exploits, which routinely get by legacy signature-based anti-virus products. ProSight Active Security Monitoring protects on-premises and cloud-based resources and offers a unified platform to manage the complete malware attack progression including protection, detection, mitigation, remediation, and post-attack forensics. Key features include one-click rollback with Windows VSS and automatic system-wide immunization against new threats. Read more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Physical and Virtual Endpoint Security and Microsoft Exchange Email Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) managed services offer ultra-affordable in-depth protection for physical servers and virtual machines, workstations, mobile devices, and Exchange email. ProSight ESP uses adaptive security and modern behavior analysis for continuously monitoring and responding to security assaults from all vectors. ProSight ESP delivers firewall protection, intrusion alarms, endpoint control, and web filtering through cutting-edge technologies packaged within a single agent accessible from a unified control. Progent's security and virtualization experts can help you to design and implement a ProSight ESP deployment that meets your company's unique requirements and that helps you prove compliance with legal and industry information security regulations. Progent will help you define and implement security policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and respond to alerts that require urgent action. Progent's consultants can also assist your company to install and verify a backup and restore solution like ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can recover rapidly from a destructive security attack like ransomware. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified physical and virtual endpoint protection and Microsoft Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services from Progent provide small and medium-sized businesses an affordable and fully managed service for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). Available at a fixed monthly rate, ProSight Data Protection Services automates and monitors your backup activities and allows fast restoration of critical data, apps and VMs that have become lost or damaged due to component failures, software bugs, natural disasters, human mistakes, or malware attacks like ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you protect, recover and restore files, folders, apps, system images, as well as Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Important data can be protected on the cloud, to a local device, or to both. Progent's backup and recovery specialists can provide world-class support to set up ProSight DPS to be compliant with regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever needed, can help you to recover your critical data. Find out more about ProSight Data Protection Services Managed Cloud Backup.

  • ProSight Email Guard: Inbound and Outbound Spam Filtering and Data Leakage Protection
    ProSight Email Guard is Progent's spam filtering service that uses the technology of top information security vendors to deliver web-based control and world-class security for your email traffic. The powerful structure of Email Guard managed service integrates cloud-based filtering with an on-premises gateway appliance to offer complete protection against spam, viruses, Denial of Service Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks (DHAs), and other email-borne threats. Email Guard's cloud filter serves as a first line of defense and blocks most unwanted email from reaching your security perimeter. This reduces your exposure to external attacks and conserves system bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's on-premises gateway appliance provides a deeper level of analysis for incoming email. For outgoing email, the local gateway offers AV and anti-spam filtering, policy-based Data Loss Prevention, and email encryption. The on-premises gateway can also help Microsoft Exchange Server to track and safeguard internal email that stays inside your security perimeter. For more details, visit Email Guard spam and content filtering.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Network 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 organizations to diagram, monitor, enhance and troubleshoot their networking hardware like routers and switches, firewalls, and load balancers as well as servers, endpoints and other networked devices. Using cutting-edge Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, ProSight WAN Watch makes sure that network maps are kept current, captures and manages the configuration of virtually all devices on your network, monitors performance, and generates notices when problems are detected. By automating complex management and troubleshooting activities, WAN Watch can knock hours off common chores such as making network diagrams, reconfiguring your network, finding devices that need critical updates, or identifying the cause of performance issues. Find out more about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure monitoring and management services.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Remote Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop remote monitoring managed service that uses state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management (RMM) techniques to keep your IT system operating efficiently by tracking the state of vital assets that power your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch detects an issue, an alert is sent automatically to your designated IT management staff and your Progent engineering consultant so that all looming issues can be resolved before they have a chance to impact productivity. Find out more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring consulting.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted Virtual Machines at Progent's World-class Data Center
    With Progent's 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 high-performance virtual host configured and managed by Progent's network support professionals. With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service model, the customer owns the data, the operating system platforms, and the apps. Because the system is virtualized, it can be ported immediately to a different hosting solution without requiring a lengthy and technically risky reinstallation procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not tied a single hosting provider. Learn more details 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 safeguard information about your network infrastructure, procedures, business apps, and services. You can quickly locate passwords or IP addresses and be alerted automatically about impending expirations of SSLs ,domains or warranties. By updating and managing your network documentation, you can eliminate up to 50% of time wasted looking for critical information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a common repository for storing and collaborating on all documents related to managing your business network like standard operating procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also offers a high level of automation for collecting and relating IT information. Whether youíre making improvements, performing maintenance, or reacting to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management gets you the data you require the instant you need it. Learn more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For 24-Hour Philadelphia CryptoLocker Repair Experts, reach out to Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.