Ransomware : Your Crippling IT Nightmare
Crypto-Ransomware  Recovery ExpertsRansomware has become an escalating cyber pandemic that presents an existential threat for businesses unprepared for an attack. Different iterations of ransomware like the CrySIS, CryptoWall, Locky, Syskey and MongoLock cryptoworms have been circulating for years and still inflict harm. Newer versions of ransomware such as Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, LockBit or Nephilim, plus additional as yet unnamed malware, not only do encryption of on-line data but also infect most accessible system backups. Information synchronized to cloud environments can also be rendered useless. In a vulnerable data protection solution, this can render automated restore operations impossible and basically knocks the datacenter back to zero.

Getting back online programs and information after a ransomware event becomes a race against time as the targeted business fights to contain the damage and cleanup the ransomware and to restore business-critical operations. Because crypto-ransomware requires time to spread, penetrations are usually sprung during weekends and nights, when attacks may take more time to discover. This compounds the difficulty of quickly mobilizing and orchestrating a qualified mitigation team.

Progent offers an assortment of services for securing enterprises from crypto-ransomware attacks. Among these are staff education to help identify and not fall victim to phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, along with setup and configuration of next-generation security gateways with machine learning capabilities to quickly identify and quarantine zero-day cyber attacks. Progent in addition provides the services of experienced ransomware recovery professionals with the talent and commitment to rebuild a breached environment as urgently as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Recovery Services
Following a crypto-ransomware penetration, even paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not ensure that cyber hackers will respond with the needed codes to decrypt any of your information. Kaspersky Labs estimated that seventeen percent of ransomware victims never restored their files even after having sent off the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The risk is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms frequently range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is significantly above the average ransomware demands, which ZDNET averages to be around $13,000. The alternative is to piece back together the essential components of your IT environment. Without access to complete system backups, this requires a wide complement of IT skills, well-coordinated team management, and the willingness to work 24x7 until the recovery project is complete.

For decades, Progent has made available expert IT services for companies in Skokie and across the United States and has earned Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts includes professionals who have attained top industry certifications in key technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security engineers have garnered internationally-renowned industry certifications including CISA, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has experience in financial management and ERP applications. This breadth of experience gives Progent the ability to efficiently ascertain critical systems and re-organize the remaining components of your IT system following a crypto-ransomware penetration and configure them into a functioning system.

Progent's security team uses state-of-the-art project management applications to orchestrate the complicated restoration process. Progent understands the importance of working swiftly and in concert with a customerís management and IT team members to prioritize tasks and to get the most important applications back on-line as soon as possible.

Customer Story: A Successful Ransomware Intrusion Response
A business hired Progent after their organization was attacked by the Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is thought to have been created by Northern Korean state cybercriminals, possibly using approaches exposed from the U.S. NSA organization. Ryuk goes after specific companies with little or no room for disruption and is among the most profitable iterations 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 single-location manufacturing business located in the Chicago metro area and has about 500 workers. The Ryuk penetration had shut down all business operations and manufacturing capabilities. The majority of the client's data backups had been online at the time of the intrusion and were damaged. The client considered paying the ransom demand (exceeding two hundred thousand dollars) and wishfully thinking for the best, but ultimately engaged Progent.


"I cannot say enough about the support Progent gave us throughout the most fearful period of (our) companyís existence. We may have had to pay the cyber criminals behind the attack if not for the confidence the Progent team provided us. That you could get our e-mail system and key applications back on-line faster than five days was amazing. Every single expert I got help from or texted at Progent was totally committed on getting our company operational and was working breakneck pace on our behalf."

Progent worked together with the customer to quickly assess and assign priority to the essential services that had to be recovered in order to resume departmental operations:

  • Windows Active Directory
  • E-Mail
  • Accounting/MRP
To begin, Progent adhered to ransomware event mitigation best practices by isolating and clearing up compromised systems. Progent then began the steps of recovering Windows Active Directory, the core of enterprise systems built upon Microsoft Windows technology. Microsoft Exchange Server email will not work without Active Directory, and the customerís accounting and MRP applications leveraged Microsoft SQL Server, which depends on Active Directory for authentication to the database.

Within 2 days, Progent was able to re-build Active Directory services to its pre-penetration state. Progent then charged ahead with setup and hard drive recovery of key applications. All Microsoft Exchange Server data and configuration information were intact, which facilitated the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to collect local OST files (Outlook Off-Line Folder Files) on various workstations in order to recover mail data. A recent off-line backup of the client's accounting software made it possible to recover these vital services back online for users. Although a lot of work still had to be done to recover fully from the Ryuk event, critical services were recovered quickly:


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

During the following month critical milestones in the restoration project were achieved through close collaboration between Progent team members and the client:

  • Internal web sites were restored with no loss of data.
  • The MailStore Server with over four million archived messages was brought online and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoices/Accounts Payable (AP)/AR/Inventory Control functions were 100% operational.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was brought on-line.
  • Nearly all of the desktops and laptops were back into operation.

"Much of what transpired those first few days is mostly a fog for me, but my management will not soon forget the commitment each and every one of your team accomplished to give us our business back. Iíve been working together with Progent for the past ten years, maybe more, and each time Progent has shined and delivered as promised. This time was the most impressive ever."

Conclusion
A likely business-killing catastrophe was averted with results-oriented professionals, a wide range of IT skills, and tight teamwork. Although in post mortem the ransomware virus penetration described here could have been disabled with modern security technology and best practices, user and IT administrator training, and properly executed incident response procedures for backup and applying software patches, the fact is that government-sponsored hackers from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and are an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a ransomware virus, feel confident that Progent's team of professionals has substantial experience in ransomware virus blocking, remediation, and information systems restoration.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others that were helping), thanks very much for making it so I could get some sleep after we got over the initial push. Everyone did an incredible effort, and if any of your team is in the Chicago area, dinner is my treat!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent can provide companies in Skokie a range of remote monitoring and security assessment services to assist you to reduce the threat from ransomware. These services include next-generation AI capability to detect new strains of ransomware that are able to get past legacy signature-based anti-virus solutions.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection (EPP) service that utilizes next generation behavior machine learning technology to guard physical and virtual endpoint devices against new malware attacks such as ransomware and file-less exploits, which routinely escape traditional signature-based anti-virus products. ProSight Active Security Monitoring protects local and cloud-based resources and provides a single platform to manage the entire threat lifecycle including blocking, detection, containment, cleanup, and post-attack forensics. Key features include single-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and automatic network-wide immunization against new threats. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Physical and Virtual Endpoint Protection and Microsoft Exchange Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection managed services offer affordable in-depth protection for physical servers and virtual machines, workstations, smartphones, and Exchange email. ProSight ESP utilizes contextual security and modern behavior analysis for round-the-clock monitoring and reacting to cyber assaults from all vectors. ProSight ESP offers firewall protection, penetration alerts, device management, and web filtering via leading-edge tools incorporated within a single agent accessible from a single control. Progent's data protection and virtualization experts can assist your business to design and implement a ProSight ESP deployment that addresses your organization's unique needs and that allows you prove compliance with government and industry data protection regulations. Progent will help you specify and implement policies that ProSight ESP will manage, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and respond to alerts that call for urgent attention. Progent's consultants can also help you to set up and verify a backup and disaster recovery system like ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can recover rapidly from a potentially disastrous cyber attack such as ransomware. Read more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified physical and virtual endpoint protection and Exchange filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS): Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery Services
    Progent has worked with leading backup/restore technology providers to produce ProSight Data Protection Services, a family of offerings that provide backup-as-a-service (BaaS). ProSight DPS services automate and monitor your data backup processes and allow non-disruptive backup and rapid recovery of vital files/folders, apps, system images, and Hyper-V and VMware virtual machines. ProSight DPS helps you protect against data loss resulting from hardware failures, natural disasters, fire, cyber attacks such as ransomware, human error, malicious employees, or application glitches. Managed backup services in the ProSight DPS portfolio include ProSight Ataro VM Backup, ProSight Ataro Office 365 Backup, ProSight ECHO Backup using Barracuda dedicated hardware, and ProSight MSP360 Cloud and On-prem Backup. Your Progent service representative can help you to determine which of these fully managed backup 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 uses the infrastructure of top information security companies to deliver centralized management and comprehensive protection for your email traffic. The hybrid architecture of Progent's Email Guard combines cloud-based filtering with an on-premises security gateway appliance to offer complete protection against spam, viruses, Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks, and other email-borne threats. Email Guard's Cloud Protection Layer serves as a preliminary barricade and keeps most unwanted email from reaching your network firewall. This decreases your exposure to inbound attacks and saves system bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's on-premises security gateway device adds a further level of inspection for inbound email. For outgoing email, the onsite gateway provides anti-virus and anti-spam filtering, policy-based Data Loss Prevention, and email encryption. The local security gateway can also assist Microsoft Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard 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 easy and inexpensive for small and mid-sized businesses to map, monitor, reconfigure and troubleshoot their networking hardware such as routers and switches, firewalls, and access points plus servers, client computers and other devices. Using state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management technology, WAN Watch ensures that infrastructure topology maps are always updated, copies and displays the configuration of virtually all devices connected to your network, monitors performance, and generates alerts when problems are detected. By automating complex network management processes, ProSight WAN Watch can cut hours off ordinary chores such as making network diagrams, reconfiguring your network, locating devices that require important software patches, or identifying the cause of performance issues. Find out more about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure monitoring and management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop monitoring managed service that uses state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management technology to keep your IT system running efficiently by tracking the health of critical computers that drive your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch detects an issue, an alert is transmitted automatically to your specified IT management personnel and your assigned Progent engineering consultant so that all looming problems can be addressed before they have a chance to disrupt productivity. Learn more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring consulting.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size organization can have its key servers and apps hosted in a secure Tier III data center on a high-performance virtual host set up and maintained by Progent's IT support professionals. With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the customer retains ownership of the data, the operating system software, and the applications. Because the environment is virtualized, it can be ported immediately to a different hardware environment without a lengthy and technically risky reinstallation procedure. 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
    Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service is an IT infrastructure documentation management service that allows you to capture, maintain, find and safeguard data about your network infrastructure, processes, business apps, and services. You can quickly locate passwords or IP addresses and be warned about upcoming expirations of SSLs or warranties. By cleaning up and managing your IT documentation, you can eliminate as much as half of time thrown away looking for vital information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a common repository for storing and collaborating on all documents related to managing your business network like standard operating procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports a high level of automation for collecting and relating IT data. Whether youíre planning improvements, doing maintenance, or reacting to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the information you need when you need it. Find out more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.

  • Progent Active Protection Against Ransomware: AI-based Ransomware Identification and Remediation
    Progent's Active Defense Against Ransomware is an endpoint protection service that incorporates next generation behavior machine learning tools to guard endpoint devices as well as physical and virtual servers against modern malware attacks like ransomware and email phishing, which routinely escape legacy signature-matching AV products. Progent Active Security Monitoring services protect on-premises and cloud-based resources and provides a unified platform to address the complete threat progression including filtering, infiltration detection, mitigation, cleanup, and forensics. Top capabilities include single-click rollback using Windows VSS and real-time network-wide immunization against new attacks. Find out more about Progent's ransomware protection and cleanup services.

  • Progent's Outsourced/Shared Service Center: Support Desk Managed Services
    Progent's Help Desk services permit your IT team to offload Call Center services to Progent or divide responsibilities for Service Desk support seamlessly between your in-house support staff and Progent's extensive roster of IT service technicians, engineers and subject matter experts (SBEs). Progent's Shared Help Desk Service offers a smooth supplement to your corporate support group. End user interaction with the Service Desk, provision of support, issue escalation, trouble ticket creation and tracking, efficiency metrics, and management of the service database are consistent whether issues are resolved by your core support group, by Progent's team, or both. Read more about Progent's outsourced/shared Help Desk services.

  • Progent's Patch Management: Software/Firmware Update Management Services
    Progent's support services for software and firmware patch management offer organizations of any size a flexible and cost-effective solution for assessing, validating, scheduling, applying, and documenting updates to your dynamic IT system. Besides optimizing the security and functionality of your computer network, Progent's software/firmware update management services allow your IT staff to concentrate on line-of-business projects and tasks that derive the highest business value from your information network. Find out more about Progent's software/firmware update management services.

  • ProSight Duo Two-Factor Authentication: Identity Validation, Endpoint Remediation, and Secure Single Sign-on (SSO)
    Progent's Duo authentication services utilize Cisco's Duo technology to defend against password theft by using two-factor authentication (2FA). Duo enables single-tap identity verification with iOS, Android, and other personal devices. With Duo 2FA, when you log into a protected application and enter your password you are requested to confirm your identity on a unit that only you possess and that uses a different ("out-of-band") network channel. A wide selection of devices can be used as this added form of authentication such as a smartphone or watch, a hardware/software token, a landline telephone, etc. You may designate multiple verification devices. For more information about ProSight Duo two-factor identity authentication services, refer to Duo MFA two-factor authentication services for access security.
For Skokie 24-Hour Crypto Remediation Services, contact Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.