Ransomware : Your Worst IT Nightmare
Ransomware  Remediation ConsultantsRansomware has become a modern cyberplague that poses an extinction-level danger for businesses of all sizes unprepared for an assault. Multiple generations of ransomware like the Dharma, CryptoWall, Locky, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been circulating for many years and continue to inflict harm. The latest variants of ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, Snatch or Egregor, as well as frequent as yet unnamed viruses, not only encrypt online information but also infect most available system backup. Files replicated to cloud environments can also be rendered useless. In a poorly designed environment, this can make automatic restoration impossible and basically knocks the datacenter back to square one.

Getting back programs and information after a crypto-ransomware event becomes a sprint against the clock as the victim fights to stop lateral movement and eradicate the crypto-ransomware and to resume enterprise-critical activity. Since crypto-ransomware needs time to move laterally, assaults are often sprung at night, when penetrations may take more time to notice. This compounds the difficulty of quickly mobilizing and orchestrating an experienced mitigation team.

Progent makes available a range of services for protecting organizations from crypto-ransomware penetrations. Among these are user training to help identify and not fall victim to phishing exploits, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, plus deployment of next-generation security gateways with AI capabilities to intelligently discover and suppress day-zero cyber threats. Progent in addition can provide the assistance of expert ransomware recovery consultants with the talent and commitment to reconstruct a breached network as rapidly as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Services
Following a crypto-ransomware event, paying the ransom in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not ensure that criminal gangs will return the codes to decipher any of your data. Kaspersky Labs ascertained that 17% of ransomware victims never recovered their information after having paid the ransom, resulting in increased losses. The gamble is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms often range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is significantly higher than the average crypto-ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be around $13,000. The other path is to setup from scratch the mission-critical components of your Information Technology environment. Absent the availability of essential data backups, this calls for a broad complement of IT skills, top notch team management, and the capability to work 24x7 until the job is done.

For decades, Progent has offered professional IT services for businesses in Chatsworth and throughout the U.S. and has earned Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes consultants who have attained high-level industry certifications in foundation technologies like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity specialists have earned internationally-renowned industry certifications including CISA, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (Refer to Progent's certifications). Progent also has expertise in financial management and ERP software solutions. This breadth of experience affords Progent the capability to quickly identify necessary systems and organize the remaining parts of your Information Technology environment following a crypto-ransomware attack and assemble them into an operational system.

Progent's ransomware team uses top notch project management applications to coordinate the sophisticated restoration process. Progent understands the urgency of acting swiftly and together with a client's management and Information Technology staff to prioritize tasks and to get key services back on-line as soon as possible.

Customer Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Attack Recovery
A small business sought out Progent after their organization was penetrated by Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been created by North Korean state sponsored hackers, suspected of using techniques leaked from the U.S. NSA organization. Ryuk goes after specific organizations with little or no room for disruption and is one of the most lucrative iterations of ransomware malware. Headline targets include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a single-location manufacturing company located in the Chicago metro area and has around 500 employees. The Ryuk attack had shut down all essential operations and manufacturing processes. Most of the client's system backups had been on-line at the beginning of the attack and were damaged. The client was pursuing financing for paying the ransom (in excess of $200K) and praying for good luck, but ultimately called Progent.


"I canít tell you enough about the support Progent gave us throughout the most fearful time of (our) businesses existence. We would have paid the cyber criminals if not for the confidence the Progent team afforded us. That you could get our messaging and essential servers back on-line quicker than five days was amazing. Every single expert I worked with or communicated with at Progent was urgently focused on getting our system up and was working non-stop to bail us out."

Progent worked together with the client to rapidly get our arms around and prioritize the mission critical services that needed to be recovered in order to continue business functions:

  • Microsoft Active Directory
  • Email
  • Accounting and Manufacturing Software
To get going, Progent adhered to Anti-virus incident response best practices by halting lateral movement and clearing up compromised systems. Progent then started the task of bringing back online Microsoft Active Directory, the core of enterprise networks built on Microsoft technology. Microsoft Exchange Server messaging will not function without Active Directory, and the client's accounting and MRP system utilized SQL Server, which depends on Windows AD for authentication to the databases.

In less than 48 hours, Progent was able to rebuild Active Directory services to its pre-attack state. Progent then completed setup and storage recovery of key servers. All Exchange ties and attributes were usable, which accelerated the restore of Exchange. Progent was able to locate non-encrypted OST data files (Outlook Email Offline Data Files) on various desktop computers to recover email information. A recent off-line backup of the client's accounting/MRP software made it possible to return these essential services back online. Although a lot of work remained to recover fully from the Ryuk event, critical systems were restored quickly:


"For the most part, the manufacturing operation ran fairly normal throughout and we made all customer sales."

Over the next couple of weeks important milestones in the recovery process were completed in tight collaboration between Progent team members and the client:

  • In-house web applications were returned to operation with no loss of information.
  • The MailStore Exchange Server with over 4 million archived messages was restored to operations and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoices/Accounts Payable/AR/Inventory functions were fully operational.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 firewall was set up and programmed.
  • Nearly all of the user PCs were operational.

"A huge amount of what happened in the initial days is mostly a blur for me, but we will not soon forget the commitment each and every one of the team put in to give us our company back. I have been working together with Progent for at least 10 years, maybe more, and every time I needed help Progent has impressed me and delivered as promised. This time was a stunning achievement."

Conclusion
A possible business disaster was evaded due to top-tier professionals, a broad array of subject matter expertise, and close teamwork. Although in post mortem the ransomware virus incident described here should have been stopped with up-to-date security solutions and best practices, team training, and appropriate security procedures for information backup and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the fact remains that government-sponsored hackers from China, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and are not going away. If you do get hit by a ransomware incursion, remember that Progent's roster of professionals has a proven track record in ransomware virus defense, remediation, and information systems disaster recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen and Chris (and any others that were involved), thank you for letting me get some sleep after we made it through the most critical parts. Everyone did an amazing effort, and if anyone that helped is around the Chicago area, dinner is my treat!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent offers businesses in Chatsworth a variety of online monitoring and security assessment services to help you to minimize your vulnerability to crypto-ransomware. These services incorporate modern artificial intelligence technology to uncover zero-day strains of ransomware that are able to evade traditional signature-based anti-virus solutions.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) is an endpoint protection solution that incorporates next generation behavior-based analysis tools to guard physical and virtual endpoint devices against modern malware assaults like ransomware and email phishing, which easily evade legacy signature-based AV tools. ProSight ASM safeguards on-premises and cloud-based resources and offers a unified platform to manage the complete malware attack lifecycle including protection, detection, mitigation, remediation, and forensics. Top capabilities include one-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and automatic network-wide immunization against newly discovered threats. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Endpoint Protection and Microsoft Exchange Email Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection managed services offer ultra-affordable multi-layer security for physical servers and virtual machines, desktops, smartphones, and Exchange email. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and modern behavior analysis for continuously monitoring and responding to cyber threats from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP offers firewall protection, penetration alerts, endpoint management, and web filtering through cutting-edge technologies incorporated within one agent managed from a unified control. Progent's data protection and virtualization consultants can help you to design and implement a ProSight ESP deployment that meets your organization's specific requirements and that allows you achieve and demonstrate compliance with government and industry information protection regulations. Progent will help you define and configure security policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your network and react to alarms that require urgent attention. Progent's consultants can also assist you to install and verify a backup and disaster recovery solution such as ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can get back in business rapidly from a destructive cyber attack such as ransomware. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified endpoint security and Microsoft Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS): Managed Backup and Recovery Services
    Progent has partnered with advanced backup/restore technology companies to produce ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS), a portfolio of offerings that provide backup-as-a-service (BaaS). ProSight DPS products manage and track your data backup operations and enable transparent backup and fast restoration of critical files, applications, system images, plus VMs. ProSight DPS lets your business protect against data loss resulting from hardware failures, natural disasters, fire, cyber attacks like ransomware, human mistakes, malicious employees, or application glitches. Managed backup services in the ProSight DPS product family include ProSight Ataro VM Backup, ProSight Ataro Office 365 Total Backup, ProSight DPS ECHO Backup based on Barracuda purpose-built storage, and ProSight DPS MSP360 Cloud and On-prem Backup. Your Progent expert can assist you to determine which of these fully managed services are best suited for your network.

  • ProSight Email Guard: Inbound and Outbound Spam Filtering and Data Leakage Protection
    ProSight Email Guard is Progent's spam and virus filtering service that incorporates the technology of leading data security companies to deliver centralized management and world-class protection for all your email traffic. The powerful structure of Progent's Email Guard managed service integrates a Cloud Protection Layer with a local security gateway appliance to provide complete defense against spam, viruses, Denial of Service Attacks, DHAs, and other email-borne malware. The cloud filter serves as a first line of defense and blocks the vast majority of threats from making it to your security perimeter. This reduces your vulnerability to external threats and saves network bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's on-premises gateway appliance provides a further level of analysis for incoming email. For outbound email, the local gateway offers AV and anti-spam filtering, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The onsite gateway can also assist Exchange Server to monitor and protect internal email traffic that stays inside your security perimeter. For more details, visit Email Guard spam and content filtering.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Infrastructure Remote Monitoring and Management
    Progentís ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure management service that makes it simple and inexpensive for small and mid-sized businesses to map, monitor, optimize and troubleshoot their connectivity hardware such as switches, firewalls, and wireless controllers as well as servers, endpoints and other networked devices. Incorporating cutting-edge Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, ProSight WAN Watch ensures that infrastructure topology diagrams are always updated, captures and manages the configuration information of almost all devices on your network, monitors performance, and generates alerts when potential issues are detected. By automating tedious management and troubleshooting activities, ProSight WAN Watch can knock hours off common chores like network mapping, expanding your network, finding appliances that require important software patches, or identifying the cause of performance problems. Find out more about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop remote monitoring managed service that incorporates advanced remote monitoring and management technology to help keep your IT system running at peak levels by checking the health of critical assets that power your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers a problem, an alert is transmitted immediately to your specified IT staff and your Progent engineering consultant so that all looming issues can be resolved before they can disrupt your network. Find out more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring services.

  • 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 organization can have its key servers and apps hosted in a protected fault tolerant data center on a high-performance virtual host set up and maintained by Progent's IT support experts. With the ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the client retains ownership of the data, the operating system platforms, and the apps. Since the environment is virtualized, it can be moved immediately to a different hosting solution without a time-consuming and technically risky configuration process. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not tied a single hosting provider. Find out more details about ProSight Virtual Hosting services.

  • ProSight IT Asset Management: Network Documentation Management
    ProSight IT Asset Management service is an IT infrastructure documentation management service that allows you to capture, update, find and protect 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 or warranties. By updating and organizing your network documentation, you can eliminate up to half of time wasted searching for vital information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a centralized repository for holding and collaborating on all documents related to managing your network infrastructure such as recommended procedures and self-service instructions. ProSight IT Asset Management also offers a high level of automation for collecting and relating IT data. Whether youíre making enhancements, doing regular maintenance, or reacting to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the information you need when you need it. Find out more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For 24/7 Chatsworth Crypto-Ransomware Repair Support Services, contact Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.