Ransomware : Your Worst Information Technology Disaster
Ransomware  Recovery ExpertsRansomware has become a modern cyberplague that represents an extinction-level threat for businesses of all sizes poorly prepared for an attack. Multiple generations of ransomware like the Dharma, WannaCry, Locky, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been circulating for years and continue to cause damage. The latest variants of crypto-ransomware such as Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, Snatch or Nephilim, along with frequent unnamed viruses, not only encrypt online information but also infiltrate most configured system protection mechanisms. Information synchronized to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be encrypted. In a vulnerable data protection solution, it can make any restore operations impossible and basically sets the network back to square one.

Getting back online applications and information after a ransomware event becomes a sprint against time as the targeted business tries its best to contain and clear the ransomware and to resume mission-critical operations. Because ransomware needs time to replicate, attacks are frequently sprung on weekends, when successful penetrations in many cases take more time to detect. This compounds the difficulty of promptly assembling and coordinating an experienced mitigation team.

Progent offers an assortment of help services for protecting organizations from crypto-ransomware penetrations. Among these are team member 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 solutions with AI technology to rapidly discover and extinguish zero-day cyber threats. Progent in addition provides the assistance of expert ransomware recovery consultants with the skills and perseverance to re-deploy a compromised system as urgently as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Help
Soon after a crypto-ransomware penetration, paying the ransom in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not provide any assurance that cyber criminals will respond with the keys to decrypt all your data. Kaspersky Labs determined that 17% of ransomware victims never recovered their files after having paid the ransom, resulting in more losses. The risk is also costly. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well higher than the usual ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be around $13,000. The fallback is to piece back together the key components of your Information Technology environment. Absent the availability of full data backups, this calls for a wide complement of skill sets, professional project management, and the capability to work continuously until the job is completed.

For twenty years, Progent has provided certified expert IT services for businesses in Dayton and throughout the U.S. and has earned Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts includes engineers who have attained advanced certifications in leading technologies such as Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity experts have earned internationally-recognized industry certifications including CISA, CISSP-ISSAP, ISACA CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent also has experience in financial management and ERP application software. This breadth of expertise provides Progent the skills to quickly identify important systems and integrate the remaining parts of your Information Technology environment after a ransomware attack and rebuild them into a functioning network.

Progent's security team has powerful project management systems to coordinate the complex restoration process. Progent appreciates the importance of acting rapidly and in unison with a customerís management and Information Technology staff to assign priority to tasks and to get key applications back on line as fast as possible.

Business Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Incident Restoration
A business hired Progent after their network system was brought down by the Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is believed to have been launched by Northern Korean state criminal gangs, possibly using technology leaked from the United States NSA organization. Ryuk attacks specific businesses with limited tolerance for disruption and is one of the most lucrative examples of ransomware malware. Well Known victims include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a small manufacturing company headquartered in the Chicago metro area and has about 500 staff members. The Ryuk event had disabled all business operations and manufacturing processes. Most of the client's backups had been online at the beginning of the attack and were damaged. The client was pursuing financing for paying the ransom demand (more than two hundred thousand dollars) and hoping for the best, but in the end utilized Progent.


"I canít say enough about the help Progent provided us during the most stressful time of (our) companyís life. We had little choice but to pay the hackers behind this attack if not for the confidence the Progent group afforded us. That you were able to get our messaging and essential servers back into operation sooner than five days was beyond my wildest dreams. Each consultant I interacted with or communicated with at Progent was hell bent on getting us restored and was working all day and night on our behalf."

Progent worked together with the customer to quickly assess and assign priority to the essential systems that had to be recovered to make it possible to resume departmental functions:

  • Active Directory
  • Electronic Mail
  • Accounting/MRP
To get going, Progent followed AV/Malware Processes penetration mitigation best practices by stopping the spread and disinfecting systems. Progent then started the task of restoring Microsoft Active Directory, the key technology of enterprise networks built on Microsoft technology. Microsoft Exchange Server email will not operate without Active Directory, and the businessesí accounting and MRP applications used SQL Server, which requires Active Directory services for authentication to the database.

Within two days, Progent was able to recover Active Directory to its pre-intrusion state. Progent then performed setup and storage recovery on key systems. All Exchange data and attributes were usable, which greatly helped the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was able to assemble intact OST data files (Outlook Email Offline Data Files) on staff PCs and laptops in order to recover mail information. A recent off-line backup of the client's manufacturing systems made it possible to return these essential services back online. Although a lot of work was left to recover completely from the Ryuk attack, essential services were restored rapidly:


"For the most part, the manufacturing operation did not miss a beat and we did not miss any customer shipments."

During the next few weeks critical milestones in the recovery process were achieved through tight collaboration between Progent engineers and the customer:

  • Internal web applications were brought back up without losing any information.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server exceeding four million archived messages was spun up and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoicing/Accounts Payable (AP)/Accounts Receivables/Inventory capabilities were 100% restored.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was installed and configured.
  • Nearly all of the user desktops and notebooks were being used by staff.

"So much of what transpired in the initial days is nearly entirely a haze for me, but my team will not forget the dedication each and every one of the team put in to give us our company back. Iíve utilized Progent for the past ten years, maybe more, and every time I needed help Progent has impressed me and delivered as promised. This time was a testament to your capabilities."

Conclusion
A possible business-ending catastrophe was avoided by dedicated experts, a broad range of IT skills, and close collaboration. Although upon completion of forensics the ransomware virus incident detailed here should have been identified and stopped with up-to-date security technology and recognized best practices, user education, and properly executed incident response procedures for information backup and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the fact is that state-sponsored criminal cyber gangs from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and will continue. If you do get hit by a ransomware penetration, remember that Progent's roster of experts has proven experience in ransomware virus defense, removal, and file recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (along with others who were helping), thanks very much for making it so I could get some sleep after we got through the initial fire. Everyone did an amazing job, and if any of your guys is visiting the Chicago area, a great meal is my treat!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent can provide companies in Dayton a portfolio of remote monitoring and security evaluation services to help you to reduce the threat from crypto-ransomware. These services incorporate next-generation machine learning capability to detect zero-day strains of ransomware that are able to escape detection by traditional signature-based security products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection service that incorporates next generation behavior machine learning tools to guard physical and virtual endpoint devices against new malware attacks such as ransomware and email phishing, which routinely get by traditional signature-matching AV products. ProSight ASM safeguards on-premises and cloud resources and offers a single platform to automate the entire threat lifecycle including filtering, detection, containment, remediation, and forensics. Top capabilities include single-click rollback with Windows VSS and automatic network-wide immunization against newly discovered attacks. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Physical and Virtual Endpoint Protection and Microsoft Exchange Email Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection managed services offer economical multi-layer security for physical servers and virtual machines, workstations, smartphones, and Microsoft Exchange. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and advanced heuristics for round-the-clock monitoring and reacting to security threats from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP offers two-way firewall protection, intrusion alerts, device control, and web filtering via cutting-edge tools incorporated within one agent accessible from a single console. Progent's data protection and virtualization consultants can help you to design and implement a ProSight ESP environment that meets your company's specific requirements and that helps you demonstrate compliance with legal and industry information protection standards. Progent will help you specify and configure security policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your network and react to alarms that require urgent action. Progent's consultants can also help you to install and test a backup and disaster recovery solution such as ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can recover rapidly from a destructive cyber attack such as ransomware. Read more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified physical and virtual endpoint security and Microsoft Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS): Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery Services
    Progent has partnered with advanced backup software companies to create ProSight Data Protection Services, a portfolio of subscription-based management outsourcing plans that provide backup-as-a-service. ProSight DPS services automate and track your backup operations and allow non-disruptive backup and rapid restoration of important files, applications, images, plus virtual machines. ProSight DPS helps your business recover from data loss caused by hardware failures, natural calamities, fire, malware such as ransomware, human error, ill-intentioned insiders, or software bugs. Managed services in the ProSight Data Protection Services portfolio include ProSight DPS Ataro VM Backup, ProSight Ataro Office 365 Total Backup, ProSight DPS ECHO Backup based on Barracuda dedicated hardware, and ProSight DPS MSP360 Hybrid Backup. Your Progent expert can help you to determine which of these fully managed services are best suited for your IT environment.

  • ProSight Email Guard: Inbound and Outbound Spam Filtering and Data Leakage Protection
    ProSight Email Guard is Progent's spam filtering service that incorporates the infrastructure of top data security vendors to deliver centralized control and comprehensive security for all your email traffic. The powerful architecture of Progent's Email Guard managed service integrates cloud-based filtering with a local gateway device to provide advanced defense against spam, viruses, Denial of Service Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks, and other email-borne malware. Email Guard's cloud filter serves as a first line of defense and keeps most unwanted email from making it to your security perimeter. This reduces your vulnerability to inbound attacks and conserves network bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's on-premises security gateway device provides a deeper layer of inspection for inbound email. For outgoing email, the on-premises security gateway provides anti-virus and anti-spam protection, policy-based Data Loss Prevention, and email encryption. The local security gateway can also help Exchange Server to track and protect internal email traffic that stays inside your corporate firewall. For more details, see Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Network Infrastructure Remote Monitoring and Management
    Progentís ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure monitoring and management service that makes it simple and inexpensive for smaller businesses to map out, monitor, reconfigure and debug their connectivity hardware such as routers and switches, firewalls, and access points plus servers, printers, endpoints and other networked devices. Incorporating state-of-the-art RMM technology, ProSight WAN Watch ensures that network maps are always current, copies and manages the configuration of virtually all devices connected to your network, tracks performance, and sends notices when potential issues are discovered. By automating time-consuming management activities, WAN Watch can knock hours off ordinary chores such as making network diagrams, reconfiguring your network, locating devices that need critical updates, or isolating performance issues. Find out more details about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Remote Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop remote monitoring service that incorporates advanced remote monitoring and management (RMM) technology to help keep your network running efficiently by checking the state of critical computers that power your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch detects an issue, an alert is sent immediately to your specified IT staff and your assigned Progent consultant so that any potential problems can be resolved before they can impact your network. Find out 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 Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small business can have its critical servers and apps hosted in a protected Tier III data center on a fast virtual host configured and managed by Progent's IT support professionals. With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service model, the customer retains ownership of the data, the operating system platforms, and the applications. Since the system is virtualized, it can be ported easily to an alternate hardware environment without a time-consuming and technically risky configuration process. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not locked into one hosting provider. Learn more about ProSight Virtual Hosting services.

  • ProSight IT Asset Management: Network Documentation Management
    ProSight IT Asset Management service is a cloud-based IT documentation management service that allows you to capture, maintain, retrieve and safeguard data about your IT infrastructure, procedures, applications, and services. You can instantly find passwords or IP addresses and be alerted automatically about impending expirations of SSL certificates or warranties. By cleaning up and organizing your network documentation, you can eliminate as much as half of time wasted trying to find critical information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a common repository for holding and collaborating on all documents related to managing your business network like recommended procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also offers advanced automation for gathering and relating IT information. Whether youíre planning improvements, doing maintenance, or reacting to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the data you need as soon as you need it. Find out more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.

  • Active Defense Against Ransomware: AI-based Ransomware Identification and Remediation
    Progent's Active Protection Against Ransomware is an endpoint protection solution that incorporates next generation behavior machine learning tools to guard endpoint devices and servers and VMs against modern malware assaults such as ransomware and email phishing, which routinely escape legacy signature-based anti-virus products. Progent ASM services protect on-premises and cloud resources and offers a unified platform to address the entire malware attack lifecycle including blocking, infiltration detection, mitigation, remediation, and post-attack forensics. Key capabilities include one-click rollback using Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and real-time network-wide immunization against new attacks. Read more about Progent's ransomware protection and recovery services.

  • Outsourced/Co-managed Help Desk: Call Center Managed Services
    Progent's Help Center managed services enable your information technology team to outsource Support Desk services to Progent or divide responsibilities for Service Desk support transparently between your internal network support staff and Progent's extensive pool of certified IT service technicians, engineers and subject matter experts (SBEs). Progent's Co-managed Help Desk Service offers a smooth extension of your in-house IT support team. End user interaction with the Service Desk, provision of support, escalation, ticket generation and updates, efficiency measurement, and management of the support database are cohesive whether incidents are taken care of by your in-house support resources, by Progent's team, or a mix of the two. Read more about Progent's outsourced/co-managed Help Desk services.

  • Progent's Patch Management: Patch Management Services
    Progent's managed services for software and firmware patch management offer organizations of any size a flexible and affordable alternative for assessing, validating, scheduling, applying, and tracking software and firmware updates to your dynamic IT system. In addition to maximizing the protection and functionality of your IT network, Progent's software/firmware update management services allow your IT team to focus on line-of-business projects and tasks that deliver maximum business value from your network. Read more about Progent's patch management support services.

  • ProSight Duo Two-Factor Authentication: Access Security, Endpoint Remediation, and Protected Single Sign-on (SSO)
    Progent's Duo MFA service plans incorporate Cisco's Duo technology to protect against compromised passwords through the use of two-factor authentication (2FA). Duo enables single-tap identity verification with iOS, Android, and other personal devices. With 2FA, whenever you sign into a secured application and give your password you are requested to confirm your identity on a device that only you possess and that is accessed using a separate network channel. A wide range of out-of-band devices can be used for this second form of authentication such as an iPhone or Android or wearable, a hardware/software token, a landline telephone, etc. You may register several verification devices. To find out more about Duo two-factor identity validation services, see Duo MFA two-factor authentication (2FA) services for access security.
For Dayton 24/7 Ransomware Recovery Experts, reach out to Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.