Crypto-Ransomware : Your Feared IT Disaster
Ransomware  Recovery ExpertsRansomware has become a modern cyber pandemic that represents an existential threat for organizations poorly prepared for an assault. Different iterations of crypto-ransomware like the CrySIS, Fusob, Bad Rabbit, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been out in the wild for many years and continue to inflict havoc. Modern strains of ransomware such as Ryuk and Hermes, along with additional unnamed viruses, not only do encryption of online data but also infiltrate many configured system backup. Files replicated to cloud environments can also be ransomed. In a poorly architected system, it can make automated restore operations hopeless and effectively sets the datacenter back to square one.

Retrieving services and data following a ransomware intrusion becomes a race against time as the targeted business tries its best to contain and remove the virus and to resume business-critical operations. Since ransomware needs time to move laterally, attacks are often launched during nights and weekends, when successful attacks tend to take longer to notice. This multiplies the difficulty of promptly assembling and coordinating a capable response team.

Progent has a variety of services for securing businesses from ransomware penetrations. Among these are team education to help recognize and avoid phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, along with installation of the latest generation security solutions with AI capabilities to intelligently identify and disable day-zero cyber attacks. Progent in addition offers the assistance of experienced crypto-ransomware recovery professionals with the track record and commitment to rebuild a breached environment as soon as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Recovery Support Services
Following a ransomware penetration, even paying the ransom in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not ensure that distant criminals will provide the needed codes to decipher any or all of your data. Kaspersky determined that 17% of crypto-ransomware victims never recovered their files even after having sent off the ransom, resulting in more losses. The gamble is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms frequently 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 fallback is to setup from scratch the essential elements of your Information Technology environment. Without the availability of full data backups, this calls for a wide complement of skill sets, professional team management, and the willingness to work continuously until the job is finished.

For two decades, Progent has made available professional IT services for companies in Chicago and across the US and has earned Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts includes professionals who have earned high-level industry certifications in important technologies like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security specialists have earned internationally-renowned certifications including CISA, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has experience in financial management and ERP application software. This breadth of experience affords Progent the capability to knowledgably identify important systems and organize the remaining parts of your Information Technology system after a ransomware event and assemble them into a functioning network.

Progent's recovery group uses best of breed project management systems to coordinate the sophisticated recovery process. Progent appreciates the urgency of acting quickly and in concert with a client's management and Information Technology resources to assign priority to tasks and to put essential systems back on line as fast as humanly possible.

Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Attack Recovery
A business hired Progent after their network was crashed by the Ryuk ransomware virus. Ryuk is thought to have been developed by Northern Korean state cybercriminals, suspected of using approaches leaked from the United States National Security Agency. Ryuk targets specific companies with little or no tolerance for disruption and is one of the most profitable incarnations of ransomware malware. Well Known targets include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a single-location manufacturing company headquartered in Chicago and has around 500 workers. The Ryuk intrusion had disabled all business operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's information backups had been on-line at the beginning of the attack and were destroyed. The client considered paying the ransom (exceeding $200K) and hoping for the best, but in the end engaged Progent.


"I canít speak enough in regards to the care Progent gave us throughout the most fearful period of (our) companyís existence. We would have paid the Hackers except for the confidence the Progent experts gave us. That you were able to get our messaging and important applications back quicker than a week was incredible. Each person I worked with or texted at Progent was urgently focused on getting us operational and was working all day and night on our behalf."

Progent worked with the customer to quickly understand and prioritize the most important areas that needed to be restored to make it possible to continue departmental operations:

  • Microsoft Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Financials/MRP
To begin, Progent adhered to Anti-virus incident mitigation best practices by halting lateral movement and disinfecting systems. Progent then initiated the work of recovering Microsoft Active Directory, the core of enterprise networks built upon Microsoft Windows technology. Exchange email will not function without AD, and the client's accounting and MRP system utilized Microsoft SQL, which needs Active Directory for authentication to the database.

In less than 2 days, Progent was able to recover Windows Active Directory to its pre-virus state. Progent then completed rebuilding and hard drive recovery on key systems. All Exchange ties and configuration information were usable, which greatly helped the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was also able to find non-encrypted OST data files (Microsoft Outlook Offline Folder Files) on team workstations to recover mail data. A recent offline backup of the businesses financials/ERP systems made them able to return these required services back online for users. Although major work needed to be completed to recover totally from the Ryuk damage, the most important systems were recovered rapidly:


"For the most part, the production operation did not miss a beat and we delivered all customer orders."

During the next few weeks important milestones in the restoration project were completed in close collaboration between Progent team members and the customer:

  • Internal web sites were returned to operation without losing any data.
  • The MailStore Exchange Server exceeding 4 million historical messages was restored to operations and available for users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoices/Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory Control functions were completely functional.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 security appliance was installed.
  • Most of the user PCs were being used by staff.

"A lot of what went on in the initial days is nearly entirely a fog for me, but we will not forget the commitment each and every one of your team accomplished to give us our business back. I have utilized Progent for the past ten years, maybe more, and each time I needed help Progent has outperformed my expectations and delivered. This situation was a Herculean accomplishment."

Conclusion
A probable business extinction catastrophe was avoided through the efforts of results-oriented professionals, a wide range of knowledge, and tight collaboration. Although in post mortem the crypto-ransomware attack detailed here could have been prevented with advanced security solutions and NIST Cybersecurity Framework or ISO/IEC 27001 best practices, team education, and well thought out incident response procedures for backup and applying software patches, the reality remains that government-sponsored cybercriminals from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and represent an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a crypto-ransomware attack, remember that Progent's roster of professionals has proven experience in ransomware virus blocking, remediation, and information systems disaster recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others who were contributing), Iím grateful for allowing me to get some sleep after we got through the initial fire. Everyone did an incredible job, and if any of your guys is around the Chicago area, a great meal is my treat!"

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

Additional Crypto-Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent offers businesses in Chicago a portfolio of online monitoring and security assessment services designed to assist you to minimize the threat from ransomware. These services utilize modern machine learning technology to detect new strains of ransomware that can get past legacy signature-based security solutions.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection solution that incorporates next generation behavior analysis tools to defend physical and virtual endpoint devices against modern malware assaults such as ransomware and email phishing, which routinely get by traditional signature-based anti-virus products. ProSight ASM safeguards local and cloud resources and offers a unified platform to manage the complete malware attack progression including protection, identification, containment, remediation, and forensics. Key features include single-click rollback using Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) 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 (ESP): Endpoint Security and Exchange Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) services deliver economical multi-layer security for physical servers and virtual machines, desktops, mobile devices, and Exchange email. ProSight ESP utilizes adaptive security and modern behavior analysis for continuously monitoring and responding to cyber threats from all vectors. ProSight ESP offers two-way firewall protection, intrusion alarms, endpoint management, and web filtering through cutting-edge technologies packaged within one agent managed from a unified control. Progent's security and virtualization experts can help your business to plan and implement a ProSight ESP deployment that meets your organization's specific needs and that helps you demonstrate compliance with legal and industry data security regulations. Progent will help you specify and implement security policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and react to alarms that call for urgent action. Progent can also help your company to install and test a backup and restore solution like ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can get back in business quickly from a potentially disastrous cyber attack like ransomware. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified endpoint security and Microsoft Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services from Progent provide small and medium-sized businesses a low cost and fully managed solution for secure backup/disaster recovery (BDR). For a low monthly price, ProSight DPS automates and monitors your backup activities and allows fast recovery of critical files, applications and VMs that have become lost or damaged due to hardware failures, software bugs, disasters, human error, or malicious attacks like ransomware. ProSight DPS can help you back up, recover and restore files, folders, apps, system images, plus Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Important data can be protected on the cloud, to an on-promises device, or mirrored to both. Progent's BDR specialists can provide advanced support to set up ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, FIRPA, and PCI and, whenever necessary, can help you to recover your business-critical data. Find out more about ProSight DPS Managed Backup.

  • 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 infrastructure of leading data security companies to deliver centralized control and world-class protection for all your inbound and outbound email. The hybrid architecture of Progent's Email Guard managed service combines cloud-based filtering with an on-premises gateway device to offer advanced defense against spam, viruses, Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, DHAs, and other email-borne threats. The Cloud Protection Layer acts as a preliminary barricade and blocks most threats from making it to your security perimeter. This decreases your exposure to external attacks and saves network bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's on-premises gateway device provides a further level of inspection for incoming email. For outbound email, the onsite gateway provides AV and anti-spam filtering, DLP, and email encryption. The local gateway can also help Exchange Server to monitor and protect internal email traffic that originates and ends inside your security perimeter. For more details, see Email Guard spam and content filtering.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Network Infrastructure Remote Monitoring and Management
    Progentís ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure management service that makes it simple and inexpensive for smaller businesses to map out, monitor, optimize and troubleshoot their connectivity appliances like switches, firewalls, and wireless controllers plus servers, client computers and other networked devices. Using state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, WAN Watch ensures that network maps are kept updated, copies and manages the configuration information of almost all devices on your network, tracks performance, and generates notices when problems are discovered. By automating tedious management activities, WAN Watch can cut hours off ordinary chores such as making network diagrams, reconfiguring your network, locating devices that need critical software patches, or identifying the cause of performance problems. Learn more about ProSight WAN Watch network infrastructure monitoring and management services.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop monitoring service that incorporates advanced remote monitoring and management (RMM) techniques to help keep your IT system running efficiently by checking the state of vital computers that drive your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers an issue, an alert is sent automatically to your designated IT management staff and your Progent engineering consultant so all looming problems can be resolved before they have a chance to impact your network. Learn more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop monitoring consulting.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's World-class Data Center
    With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small business can have its critical servers and apps hosted in a protected fault tolerant data center on a fast virtual host set up and managed by Progent's network support professionals. Under the ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the client owns the data, the OS platforms, and the apps. Because the environment is virtualized, it can be moved easily to a different hosting solution without a lengthy and technically risky configuration procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not locked into a single hosting service. 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 makes it easy to create, maintain, find and safeguard information related to your IT infrastructure, procedures, applications, and services. You can quickly find passwords or IP addresses and be warned automatically about upcoming expirations of SSL certificates or warranties. By cleaning up and managing your IT documentation, you can eliminate up to half of time wasted looking for vital information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a centralized repository for holding and collaborating on all documents related to managing your network infrastructure such as recommended procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also offers a high level of automation for gathering and associating IT information. Whether youíre planning improvements, doing regular maintenance, or responding to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the knowledge you need the instant you need it. Learn more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For 24-Hour Chicago Crypto Recovery Help, call Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.