Crypto-Ransomware : Your Worst Information Technology Nightmare
Ransomware  Recovery ExpertsRansomware has become a too-frequent cyber pandemic that presents an enterprise-level threat for organizations vulnerable to an attack. Versions of crypto-ransomware like the CrySIS, WannaCry, Bad Rabbit, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been running rampant for many years and continue to cause harm. Modern versions of crypto-ransomware such as Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, LockBit and Egregor, plus additional as yet unnamed malware, not only do encryption of on-line data files but also infiltrate any accessible system backup. Data replicated to the cloud can also be corrupted. In a poorly architected data protection solution, this can make automatic recovery hopeless and basically sets the datacenter back to square one.

Getting back online services and data following a ransomware intrusion becomes a race against the clock as the victim fights to contain and clear the virus and to restore business-critical operations. Due to the fact that crypto-ransomware takes time to move laterally, assaults are frequently sprung during nights and weekends, when successful penetrations typically take longer to notice. This multiplies the difficulty of rapidly mobilizing and coordinating a knowledgeable response team.

Progent has a variety of services for securing Des Moines enterprises from ransomware penetrations. Among these are team member education to become familiar with and avoid phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for endpoint detection and response (EDR) utilizing SentinelOne's AI-based threat defense to discover and disable zero-day modern malware attacks. Progent also provides the assistance of experienced crypto-ransomware recovery consultants with the talent and commitment to rebuild a breached network as urgently as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Recovery Help
Following a ransomware event, paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not ensure that cyber criminals will provide the codes to unencrypt any or all of your files. Kaspersky ascertained that 17% of ransomware victims never restored their data after having sent off the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The risk is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly higher than the usual crypto-ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be in the range of $13,000 for small businesses. The other path is to re-install the essential elements of your IT environment. Absent the availability of complete system backups, this calls for a wide complement of IT skills, well-coordinated project management, and the ability to work 24x7 until the recovery project is over.

For decades, Progent has made available expert Information Technology services for businesses throughout the US and has achieved Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes professionals who have been awarded top certifications in foundation technologies like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's security engineers have garnered internationally-renowned industry certifications including CISM, CISSP-ISSAP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise with financial management and ERP software solutions. This breadth of expertise provides Progent the capability to quickly identify important systems and re-organize the remaining pieces of your computer network environment following a ransomware attack and assemble them into a functioning system.

Progent's recovery group utilizes best of breed project management applications to coordinate the complicated recovery process. Progent appreciates the urgency of acting rapidly and in unison with a client's management and Information Technology staff to prioritize tasks and to put critical applications back on-line as soon as possible.

Business Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Attack Recovery
A business escalated to Progent after their organization was taken over by the Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is thought to have been developed by North Korean state hackers, possibly using technology exposed from the U.S. NSA organization. Ryuk targets specific businesses with little room for operational disruption and is among the most lucrative incarnations of ransomware. Headline targets include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a small manufacturer based in the Chicago metro area and has around 500 staff members. The Ryuk attack had paralyzed all company operations and manufacturing capabilities. The majority of the client's data backups had been online at the time of the attack and were destroyed. The client was actively seeking loans for paying the ransom (exceeding $200,000) and praying for good luck, but ultimately called Progent.


"I can't say enough in regards to the expertise Progent gave us throughout the most fearful period of (our) businesses existence. We may have had to pay the hackers behind this attack if it wasn't for the confidence the Progent group afforded us. That you were able to get our e-mail and key servers back into operation quicker than one week was earth shattering. Each staff member I spoke to or e-mailed at Progent was totally committed on getting our company operational and was working at all hours to bail us out."

Progent worked with the client to quickly identify and assign priority to the critical services that had to be addressed in order to resume company operations:

  • Microsoft Active Directory
  • Electronic Messaging
  • Accounting/MRP
To start, Progent followed ransomware incident response best practices by isolating and performing virus removal steps. Progent then started the steps of recovering Active Directory, the key technology of enterprise environments built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Exchange email will not operate without AD, and the businesses' accounting and MRP system utilized Microsoft SQL Server, which needs Active Directory for access to the database.

Within 2 days, Progent was able to restore Windows Active Directory to its pre-virus state. Progent then charged ahead with setup and hard drive recovery on critical systems. All Exchange schema and attributes were usable, which accelerated the restore of Exchange. Progent was able to assemble non-encrypted OST files (Outlook Off-Line Data Files) on various desktop computers in order to recover mail data. A recent offline backup of the customer's financials/ERP software made them able to return these required programs back on-line. Although significant work needed to be completed to recover totally from the Ryuk attack, the most important systems were returned to operations quickly:


"For the most part, the assembly line operation ran fairly normal throughout and we did not miss any customer orders."

During the next month 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 without losing any information.
  • The MailStore Exchange Server containing more than 4 million historical emails was brought online and available for users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoicing/Accounts Payable (AP)/Accounts Receivables/Inventory modules were completely restored.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was brought on-line.
  • Ninety percent of the user PCs were back into operation.

"A lot of what was accomplished during the initial response is mostly a haze for me, but our team will not soon forget the care each of your team put in to help get our company back. I've entrusted Progent for the past 10 years, possibly more, and every time I needed help Progent has come through and delivered as promised. This event was a life saver."

Conclusion
A likely company-ending catastrophe was evaded by results-oriented professionals, a wide array of knowledge, and tight teamwork. Although in post mortem the ransomware penetration described here would have been identified and stopped with up-to-date cyber security systems and ISO/IEC 27001 best practices, user education, and well thought out security procedures for data backup and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the fact remains that government-sponsored criminal cyber gangs from Russia, China and elsewhere are relentless and are an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a ransomware attack, remember that Progent's team of professionals has proven experience in crypto-ransomware virus blocking, mitigation, and data disaster recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others who were contributing), I'm grateful for making it so I could get rested after we got over the first week. Everyone did an fabulous effort, and if anyone is visiting the Chicago area, dinner is on me!"

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

Contact Progent for Ransomware System Restoration Consulting in Des Moines
For ransomware cleanup services in the Des Moines metro area, phone Progent at 800-462-8800 or visit Contact Progent.



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    VMware's popular Site Recovery Manager is an extension to VMware vCenter that lets you specify, automate and verify a consistent workflow for restoring services quickly after an outage. Site Recovery Manager supports centrally controlled and automated recovery, application mobility, plus non-disruptive site migration, failback and site re-protect. SRM also enables non-intrusive testing for site recovery, updates and fixes and can generate reports to verify complete service recovery, validate Service Level Agreements and prove DR compliance. Progent can provide the support of a VCDX certified VMware Site Recovery Manager consulting expert to help you to design, deploy, test and manage a DR system based on VMware Site Recovery Manager.

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    Progent provides clients the services of consultants who have been awarded some of the computer industry's most prized credentials. Progent thinks that clients deserve to be sure that their IT support consultants have accredited testing as well as extensive real-world field experience so that Progent's customers can use Progent's support with trust. Often, vendor certifications such as the Cisco Certified Internetwork Experts confers privileges for substantially better vendor help than is available to uncertified service providers, allowing Progent to deliver clients a better class of computer service. In addition, major certifications such as CISM or CISSP for IT security can help corporate clients to demonstrate compliance with regulatory demands by engaging the assistance of accredited IT professionals.

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    Progent's Experts Team provides consulting in important areas including Apple OS networking and applications; Expertise for Linux, UNIX-powered, and Sun environments; MRP, Enterprise Resource Planning, or CRM customization; Mission-critical and specialized program support; Chief Information Officer, business analyst, and project logistics outsourcing; Custom program development and deployment; Web, eCommerce, EDI, and client information portal design and deployment; SQL management and performance consulting; Management information expertise; and Telecommunications architecture support.

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    Progent's Cisco-Premier network management consultants can help you to use Cisco's network management utilities alongside a selection of powerful third-party products to build a complete network management strategy in order to keep your environment running reliably, fully utilize expensive resources, guard your data, recover rapidly from device breakdown or malicious assaults, and enable you to add or reassign network resources sensibly and economically as your company grows.

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    Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) is an affordable collection of essential servers that provides the foundation for a powerful but easy-to-manage information. The inter-connectivity requirements of the Microsoft .NET functions bundled with Microsoft Small Business Server 2011 requires a network expert with real-world background and extensive knowledge in designing and building effective and comprehensive information technology solutions. Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants have broad experience with the technologies incorporated in SBS 2011 and SBS 2008. This experience ensures you success in installing, managing, and troubleshooting network environments powered by the SBS suite of servers and applications.

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    Progent's staff of Microsoft and Cisco Premier Certified consultants average more than ten years of real-world professional background, in the trenches of network service, executing a wide variety of IT tasks for a large mix of customers. Each Progent support professional shares a proven collection of individual best practices which are incorporated into shared leading practices standards that Progent instills in its support personnel. This means that you get not just expert IT skills, but also a consultant with proven approaches for using technical knowledge to fix actual IT problems efficiently.

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    Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can provide computer support and technology consulting services for Microsoft .NET Servers and applications and for Windows Server 2012, 2008 and 2003. Progent's support team can show you how to design, deploy, troubleshoot and manage the entire suite of Windows .NET Servers including Microsoft SQL Server 2012, Microsoft ISA Server, Small Business Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, Hyper-V, Lync Server, Microsoft Project Server, and System Center Operations Manager.

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    Progent practices information transfer from Progent's support experts to customers. By teaching clients to handle technical issues that are within their comfort zone, Progent can focus on offering hard-to-find skills where Progent has little competition. Small businesses who utilize trusted freelance service providers or who employ internal support staffs benefit when Progent passes on knowledge about new technology and tested methodologies to make their networks more robust, protected, and productive.

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