Ransomware : Your Crippling IT Disaster
Ransomware  Recovery ConsultantsCrypto-Ransomware has become a too-frequent cyber pandemic that presents an extinction-level threat for businesses unprepared for an attack. Different iterations of ransomware like the CrySIS, WannaCry, Locky, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been running rampant for many years and still cause damage. Newer variants of ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, Snatch or Nephilim, along with frequent as yet unnamed viruses, not only do encryption of online information but also infiltrate most accessible system backups. Files synchronized to cloud environments can also be corrupted. In a poorly architected data protection solution, this can make automatic restoration hopeless and basically knocks the datacenter back to zero.

Getting back on-line programs and data after a ransomware outage becomes a race against the clock as the targeted business tries its best to contain and clear the ransomware and to resume business-critical operations. Due to the fact that ransomware takes time to spread, attacks are often sprung on weekends, when successful penetrations in many cases take longer to recognize. This compounds the difficulty of promptly mobilizing and coordinating a capable mitigation team.

Progent makes available a variety of help services for protecting organizations from crypto-ransomware penetrations. These include team education to help identify and avoid phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, along with installation of the latest generation security gateways with artificial intelligence capabilities to automatically discover and suppress zero-day cyber attacks. Progent in addition provides the services of expert ransomware recovery professionals with the skills and perseverance to rebuild a breached network as soon as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Services
Soon after a crypto-ransomware attack, even paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not ensure that criminal gangs will respond with the needed keys to unencrypt any of your files. Kaspersky Labs determined that seventeen percent of ransomware victims never recovered their information after having sent off the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The gamble is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms often range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well higher than the average ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be in the range of $13,000. The fallback is to piece back together the vital components of your IT environment. Without the availability of full information backups, this requires a wide range of IT skills, top notch project management, and the ability to work 24x7 until the recovery project is complete.

For twenty years, Progent has made available professional IT services for businesses in Recife and across the United States and has achieved Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes professionals 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 certifications including CISM, CISSP, CRISC, and GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent also has experience with financial management and ERP applications. This breadth of expertise gives Progent the skills to rapidly determine critical systems and consolidate the remaining pieces of your computer network system after a ransomware attack and configure them into a functioning system.

Progent's security team utilizes top notch project management tools to orchestrate the complex restoration process. Progent understands the importance of working quickly and together with a customer’s management and IT team members to assign priority to tasks and to put critical services back on line as fast as humanly possible.

Client Story: A Successful Ransomware Intrusion Recovery
A small business engaged Progent after their network was penetrated by Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been deployed by Northern Korean state sponsored hackers, suspected of using techniques leaked from the U.S. National Security Agency. Ryuk targets specific organizations with limited ability to sustain operational disruption and is one of the most lucrative versions of ransomware. Well Known targets include Data Resolution, a California-based information warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a single-location manufacturing company located in Chicago and has around 500 staff members. The Ryuk intrusion had shut down all company operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's information backups had been directly accessible at the beginning of the attack and were eventually encrypted. The client was taking steps for paying the ransom (exceeding $200,000) and hoping for good luck, but ultimately reached out to Progent.


"I can’t speak enough about the support Progent gave us throughout the most critical period of (our) businesses survival. We would have paid the hackers behind this attack if it wasn’t for the confidence the Progent team gave us. The fact that you were able to get our messaging and essential servers back online sooner than 1 week was beyond my wildest dreams. Each consultant I interacted with or e-mailed at Progent was urgently focused on getting us back online and was working 24 by 7 to bail us out."

Progent worked with the customer to quickly understand and prioritize the most important areas that had to be restored in order to restart company functions:

  • Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • MRP System
To get going, Progent adhered to ransomware event mitigation best practices by halting the spread and clearing up compromised systems. Progent then initiated the work of recovering Windows Active Directory, the core of enterprise systems built on Microsoft Windows Server technology. Microsoft Exchange Server email will not function without Active Directory, and the client's MRP software used Microsoft SQL, which requires Active Directory for access to the data.

In less than 2 days, Progent was able to re-build Active Directory services to its pre-intrusion state. Progent then initiated reinstallations and storage recovery of mission critical systems. All Exchange ties and configuration information were usable, which facilitated the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to locate intact OST files (Outlook Off-Line Folder Files) on user desktop computers and laptops to recover email information. A recent off-line backup of the customer’s accounting software made it possible to recover these vital programs back servicing users. Although a large amount of work needed to be completed to recover totally from the Ryuk attack, essential services were recovered rapidly:


"For the most part, the manufacturing operation survived unscathed and we produced all customer deliverables."

Over the following couple of weeks key milestones in the recovery project were achieved through close collaboration between Progent engineers and the client:

  • Internal web applications were restored without losing any information.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server containing more than 4 million historical emails was brought online and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoicing/Accounts Payable/AR/Inventory Control functions were fully operational.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 firewall was brought online.
  • 90% of the user desktops and notebooks were operational.

"A lot of what was accomplished that first week is mostly a blur for me, but our team will not forget the care all of your 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 Progent has outperformed my expectations and delivered. This event was a testament to your capabilities."

Conclusion
A probable company-ending catastrophe was averted through the efforts of hard-working experts, a wide array of knowledge, and close collaboration. Although in hindsight the ransomware incident detailed here should have been stopped with advanced security solutions and NIST Cybersecurity Framework or ISO/IEC 27001 best practices, staff education, and appropriate security procedures for information backup and applying software patches, the reality is that government-sponsored cyber criminals from Russia, China and elsewhere are relentless and are an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a crypto-ransomware penetration, feel confident that Progent's team of professionals has a proven track record in crypto-ransomware virus blocking, mitigation, and data disaster recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Tony and Chris (and any others that were involved), thanks very much for letting me get some sleep after we made it through the most critical parts. All of you did an fabulous effort, and if anyone that helped is in the Chicago area, dinner is the least I can do!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent offers companies in Recife a range of remote monitoring and security evaluation services designed to help you to minimize the threat from ransomware. These services include next-generation machine learning technology to detect zero-day strains of 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 solution that incorporates cutting edge behavior-based machine learning tools to guard physical and virtual endpoints against modern malware assaults like ransomware and email phishing, which routinely evade legacy signature-based AV products. ProSight Active Security Monitoring safeguards on-premises and cloud resources and offers a single platform to address the entire malware attack lifecycle including protection, detection, mitigation, cleanup, and forensics. Top features include one-click rollback using Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service and automatic network-wide immunization against newly discovered attacks. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring endpoint protection and ransomware defense.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Endpoint Security and Microsoft Exchange Email Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) managed services deliver ultra-affordable in-depth security for physical servers and VMs, desktops, smartphones, and Exchange email. ProSight ESP utilizes contextual security and advanced heuristics for continuously monitoring and reacting to cyber assaults from all vectors. ProSight ESP delivers two-way firewall protection, intrusion alarms, device control, and web filtering via cutting-edge tools incorporated within a single agent managed from a single control. Progent's data protection and virtualization consultants can assist your business to plan and configure a ProSight ESP deployment that addresses your company's unique needs and that helps you prove compliance with government and industry data protection regulations. Progent will help you define and implement policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your network and respond to alerts that call for immediate action. Progent can also assist your company to install and test a backup and disaster recovery system such as ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can get back in business rapidly from a potentially disastrous cyber attack such as ransomware. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified endpoint security and Exchange filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services provide small and medium-sized businesses an affordable and fully managed service for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). Available at a fixed monthly cost, ProSight DPS automates and monitors your backup processes and enables fast recovery of critical data, applications and virtual machines that have become unavailable or damaged as a result of hardware failures, software glitches, disasters, human error, or malware attacks such as ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you back up, retrieve and restore files, folders, applications, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Important data can be protected on the cloud, to a local device, or mirrored to both. Progent's backup and recovery consultants can deliver advanced expertise to configure ProSight Data Protection Services to be compliant with government and industry regulatory standards like HIPAA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever necessary, can help you to recover your critical data. Find out more about ProSight Data Protection Services Managed Backup and Recovery.

  • 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 data security vendors to provide centralized management and comprehensive protection for all your inbound and outbound email. The powerful architecture of Progent's Email Guard combines cloud-based filtering with an on-premises gateway device to provide advanced protection against spam, viruses, Denial of Service Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks (DHAs), and other email-borne malware. The cloud filter acts as a first line of defense and blocks the vast majority of threats from reaching your security perimeter. This decreases your vulnerability to inbound threats and saves system bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's onsite security gateway device provides a deeper level of analysis for inbound email. For outbound email, the on-premises security gateway offers AV and anti-spam filtering, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The onsite security gateway can also help Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard internal email traffic that originates and ends inside your security perimeter. For more details, visit Email Guard spam and content filtering.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Infrastructure Management
    ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure monitoring and management service that makes it easy and inexpensive for smaller businesses to map out, track, enhance and debug their networking hardware like routers and switches, firewalls, and wireless controllers plus servers, endpoints and other networked devices. Using cutting-edge Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, ProSight WAN Watch makes sure that network diagrams are kept updated, copies and manages the configuration of virtually all devices connected to your network, tracks performance, and generates alerts when problems are detected. By automating complex network management processes, ProSight WAN Watch can knock hours off common chores such as network mapping, reconfiguring your network, locating appliances that require important software patches, or identifying the cause of performance bottlenecks. Find out more details about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure monitoring and management services.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Remote Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progent’s server and desktop remote monitoring managed service that uses advanced remote monitoring and management (RMM) technology to keep your IT system running efficiently by tracking the health of critical computers that drive your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch detects an issue, an alarm is sent automatically to your specified IT staff and your assigned Progent engineering consultant so any looming problems can be resolved before they have a chance to disrupt your network. Find out more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted Virtual Machines at Progent's World-class Data Center
    With ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small business can have its key servers and apps hosted in a protected fault tolerant data center on a high-performance virtual host configured and managed by Progent's network support professionals. With the ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the client owns the data, the OS software, and the applications. Since the environment is virtualized, it can be moved immediately to a different hosting environment without a lengthy and difficult configuration process. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not tied a single hosting provider. Learn more 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 allows you to create, update, retrieve and safeguard data related to your network infrastructure, procedures, applications, and services. You can instantly locate passwords or serial numbers and be alerted automatically about upcoming expirations of SSLs ,domains or warranties. By cleaning up and managing your IT infrastructure documentation, you can eliminate up to half of time spent trying to find vital information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a common location for storing and collaborating on all documents required for managing your business network such as standard operating procedures and self-service instructions. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports advanced automation for gathering and associating IT data. Whether you’re making enhancements, doing regular maintenance, or reacting to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the knowledge you require as soon as you need it. Read more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Recife 24/7 Crypto Removal Consultants, call Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.