Ransomware : Your Feared Information Technology Catastrophe
Crypto-Ransomware  Recovery ProfessionalsCrypto-Ransomware has become a too-frequent cyberplague that poses an extinction-level danger for businesses poorly prepared for an assault. Multiple generations of crypto-ransomware like the Reveton, WannaCry, Bad Rabbit, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been replicating for a long time and still inflict damage. More recent strains of ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, Conti and Nephilim, along with frequent unnamed malware, not only do encryption of on-line data files but also infect most available system protection. Files replicated to cloud environments can also be corrupted. In a poorly architected data protection solution, it can render automatic restoration useless and basically knocks the entire system back to square one.

Retrieving applications and information following a crypto-ransomware event becomes a race against the clock as the targeted business tries its best to stop the spread and clear the ransomware and to resume business-critical operations. Since crypto-ransomware requires time to replicate, penetrations are usually sprung during nights and weekends, when penetrations may take longer to detect. This multiplies the difficulty of promptly marshalling and coordinating an experienced response team.

Progent has a range of solutions for securing Dallas enterprises from ransomware attacks. These include team education to help recognize and avoid phishing exploits, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for endpoint detection and response (EDR) utilizing SentinelOne's behavior-based threat protection to discover and suppress day-zero modern malware attacks. Progent in addition offers the assistance of seasoned ransomware recovery professionals with the track record and commitment to restore a compromised network as urgently as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Services
Soon after a crypto-ransomware penetration, sending the ransom demands in cryptocurrency does not guarantee that cyber criminals will return the codes to decrypt any of your files. Kaspersky determined that 17% of ransomware victims never restored their data after having sent off the ransom, resulting in more losses. The risk is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms often range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is significantly higher than the average ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be approximately $13,000 for smaller organizations. The alternative is to re-install the key parts of your Information Technology environment. Absent access to full system backups, this requires a wide range of skill sets, top notch project management, and the capability to work continuously until the recovery project is done.

For twenty years, Progent has offered professional IT services for companies throughout the US and has achieved Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes engineers who have been awarded advanced industry certifications in important technologies such as Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's security experts have earned internationally-renowned industry certifications including CISM, CISSP, CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (Refer to Progent's certifications). Progent also has expertise with financial systems and ERP applications. This breadth of expertise gives Progent the capability to efficiently identify critical systems and consolidate the surviving components of your IT environment after a ransomware penetration and rebuild them into a functioning network.

Progent's ransomware team of experts utilizes powerful project management tools to coordinate the complex recovery process. Progent knows the importance of acting rapidly and in unison with a customer's management and Information Technology staff to assign priority to tasks and to get the most important services back on line as soon as humanly possible.

Client Story: A Successful Ransomware Incident Restoration
A client sought out Progent after their company was taken over by the Ryuk ransomware virus. Ryuk is generally considered to have been launched by North Korean government sponsored cybercriminals, possibly using strategies exposed from the U.S. NSA organization. Ryuk goes after specific businesses with limited tolerance for disruption and is one of the most profitable examples of ransomware. High publicized targets include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a single-location manufacturer located in Chicago with about 500 workers. The Ryuk event had shut down all company operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's system backups had been online at the beginning of the attack and were damaged. The client was taking steps for paying the ransom demand (in excess of $200K) and hoping for good luck, but in the end utilized Progent.

"I cannot tell you enough about the support Progent gave us throughout the most stressful time of (our) businesses survival. We would have paid the criminal gangs except for the confidence the Progent team afforded us. That you were able to get our e-mail and production servers back on-line in less than 1 week was something I thought impossible. Every single expert I spoke to or texted at Progent was hell bent on getting us working again and was working 24/7 to bail us out."

Progent worked hand in hand the client to rapidly determine and assign priority to the mission critical elements that had to be restored in order to resume business functions:

  • Active Directory
  • Electronic Messaging
  • MRP System
To start, Progent adhered to Anti-virus incident mitigation best practices by halting lateral movement and cleaning systems of viruses. Progent then initiated the task of restoring Microsoft AD, the core of enterprise environments built on Microsoft technology. Microsoft Exchange email will not function without Windows AD, and the businesses' accounting and MRP system used SQL Server, which requires Active Directory for security authorization to the databases.

In less than two days, Progent was able to rebuild Active Directory to its pre-virus state. Progent then performed reinstallations and storage recovery on the most important applications. All Microsoft Exchange Server ties and configuration information were usable, which facilitated the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to collect local OST data files (Outlook Offline Folder Files) on various PCs to recover email data. A recent off-line backup of the customer's accounting/MRP systems made them able to return these vital programs back servicing users. Although a large amount of work was left to recover totally from the Ryuk virus, critical services were recovered quickly:

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

Over the next month key milestones in the recovery project were made through tight cooperation between Progent consultants and the client:

  • In-house web applications were returned to operation with no loss of information.
  • The MailStore Server containing more than 4 million archived emails was spun up and available for users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoices/Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory Control modules were fully recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 security appliance was installed.
  • 90% of the user desktops were back into operation.

"A huge amount of what occurred during the initial response is mostly a fog for me, but our team will not forget the urgency each of you put in to help get our business back. I have trusted Progent for the past ten years, maybe more, and each time Progent has outperformed my expectations and delivered. This situation was a testament to your capabilities."

A probable enterprise-killing disaster was dodged by hard-working professionals, a wide spectrum of subject matter expertise, and close collaboration. Although in analyzing the event afterwards the ransomware virus penetration detailed here could have been shut down with modern security solutions and NIST Cybersecurity Framework best practices, staff training, and appropriate security procedures for data backup and applying software patches, the reality remains that state-sponsored criminal cyber gangs from China, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and represent an ongoing threat. If you do get hit by a ransomware incursion, feel confident that Progent's roster of professionals has a proven track record in crypto-ransomware virus defense, removal, and file disaster recovery.

"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others who were contributing), I'm grateful for letting me get some sleep after we got over the most critical parts. All of you did an amazing effort, and if anyone is visiting the Chicago area, a great meal is my treat!"

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

Contact Progent for Ransomware System Restoration Consulting Services in Dallas
For ransomware cleanup consulting in the Dallas area, call Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.

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