Crypto-Ransomware : Your Crippling IT Disaster
Crypto-Ransomware  Recovery ProfessionalsRansomware has become an escalating cyberplague that represents an existential danger for organizations unprepared for an attack. Multiple generations of ransomware such as Reveton, Fusob, Locky, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been around for a long time and still inflict damage. More recent strains of crypto-ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, Snatch and Nephilim, as well as more as yet unnamed newcomers, not only encrypt on-line files but also infiltrate all available system restores and backups. Information replicated to cloud environments can also be rendered useless. In a poorly architected system, this can render any recovery impossible and basically sets the network back to square one.

Getting back online services and data after a ransomware intrusion becomes a race against the clock as the targeted organization fights to stop lateral movement and cleanup the virus and to resume business-critical activity. Because ransomware needs time to move laterally, penetrations are frequently sprung at night, when attacks in many cases take longer to notice. This multiplies the difficulty of quickly mobilizing and orchestrating a knowledgeable mitigation team.

Progent offers a range of services for protecting Alexandria enterprises from ransomware events. These include team training to become familiar with and not fall victim to phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, along with deployment of modern security solutions with machine learning technology to quickly discover and extinguish new cyber attacks. Progent also can provide the services of experienced ransomware recovery engineers with the skills and perseverance to rebuild a compromised network as soon as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Recovery Help
Soon after a ransomware penetration, paying the ransom in cryptocurrency does not provide any assurance that cyber hackers will return the keys to decrypt any or all of your data. Kaspersky estimated that seventeen percent of crypto-ransomware victims never restored their data even after having sent off the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The gamble is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms often range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is significantly above the average crypto-ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be around $13,000 for small organizations. The other path is to setup from scratch the critical components of your IT environment. Absent the availability of full system backups, this calls for a broad complement of skill sets, top notch team management, and the capability to work continuously until the task is complete.

For two decades, Progent has offered expert IT services for companies across the US and has achieved Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes professionals who have earned advanced certifications in leading technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security engineers have garnered internationally-renowned certifications including CISA, CISSP-ISSAP, ISACA CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent also has expertise with financial management and ERP software solutions. This breadth of experience gives Progent the ability to rapidly ascertain critical systems and integrate the remaining pieces of your network system following a crypto-ransomware attack and configure them into a functioning system.

Progent's ransomware team of experts uses state-of-the-art project management tools to coordinate the complex restoration process. Progent appreciates the urgency of working swiftly and in unison with a client's management and IT staff to prioritize tasks and to put critical systems back on line as soon as humanly possible.

Client Case Study: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Penetration Recovery
A business contacted Progent after their network was attacked by Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been launched by Northern Korean state sponsored hackers, suspected of adopting algorithms exposed from Americaís NSA organization. Ryuk seeks specific businesses with little or no tolerance for disruption and is one of the most lucrative incarnations of crypto-ransomware. Well Known targets include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a regional manufacturing business located in Chicago and has about 500 workers. The Ryuk penetration had shut down all essential operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's data protection had been online at the start of the intrusion and were destroyed. The client was actively seeking loans for paying the ransom demand (more than $200K) and hoping for the best, but in the end brought in Progent.

"I cannot say enough about the support Progent provided us throughout the most fearful period of (our) companyís survival. We had little choice but to pay the cyber criminals behind the attack except for the confidence the Progent experts provided us. The fact that you could get our e-mail system and production applications back into operation faster than one week was something I thought impossible. Each staff member I got help from or messaged at Progent was urgently focused on getting our system up and was working breakneck pace on our behalf."

Progent worked hand in hand the customer to rapidly get our arms around and assign priority to the critical systems that had to be restored to make it possible to resume departmental functions:

  • Active Directory (AD)
  • Exchange Server
  • Accounting and Manufacturing Software
To start, Progent adhered to Anti-virus incident mitigation best practices by stopping the spread and cleaning systems of viruses. Progent then began the steps of restoring Active Directory, the heart of enterprise systems built upon Microsoft technology. Microsoft Exchange email will not operate without Windows AD, and the businessesí accounting and MRP software used Microsoft SQL, which requires Active Directory services for authentication to the databases.

In less than 48 hours, Progent was able to rebuild Active Directory services to its pre-intrusion state. Progent then accomplished rebuilding and hard drive recovery on critical applications. All Exchange Server data and configuration information were intact, which accelerated the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to locate non-encrypted OST files (Microsoft Outlook Off-Line Folder Files) on user workstations to recover mail data. A not too old offline backup of the customerís accounting/ERP software made it possible to return these essential services back online for users. Although a large amount of work remained to recover completely from the Ryuk event, core systems were restored rapidly:

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

Over the next few weeks key milestones in the restoration process were made in close cooperation between Progent consultants and the customer:

  • Internal web applications were returned to operation with no loss of information.
  • The MailStore Exchange Server containing more than four million historical emails was spun up and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoicing/Accounts Payable/AR/Inventory modules were 100% operational.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was brought on-line.
  • Most of the desktops and laptops were being used by staff.

"A lot of what went on those first few days is nearly entirely a fog for me, but my management will not forget the dedication each of you 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 Progent has impressed me and delivered as promised. This time was no exception but maybe more Herculean."

A likely enterprise-killing disaster was averted by results-oriented professionals, a wide range of knowledge, and tight teamwork. Although in retrospect the ransomware attack described here would have been prevented with current cyber security technology solutions and best practices, user training, and appropriate security procedures for information backup and proper patching controls, the reality remains that government-sponsored hackers from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and will continue. If you do get hit by a ransomware incident, feel confident that Progent's team of experts has extensive experience in ransomware virus defense, remediation, and data recovery.

"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (along with others that were involved), Iím grateful for letting me get some sleep after we made it over the initial push. All of you did an incredible job, and if anyone is in the Chicago area, a great meal is on me!"

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

Contact Progent for Ransomware System Restoration Consulting in Alexandria
For ransomware system recovery expertise in the Alexandria area, call Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.

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    Progentís Microsoft-expert consultants can assist your organization to enhance your workstations from 32 to 64 bits. Progent can help your company to calculate the costs and benefits of upgrading to 64-bit PC desktop computing, design an efficient migration strategy that minimizes business interruptions, and offer inexpensive, professional remote help to assist your company to install 64-bit desktop software and application software on your existing computers.

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    Progent's expert consultants can help you define and implement a smooth in-place Exchange Server 2007 migration strategy that avoids network disruption, simplifies long-term support demands, and makes your Exchange Server 2007 easy to administer. For complicated multi-server or multi-location upgrades, Progent has the knowledge and experience to finish your move quickly and economically. Progent's Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 help, repair, and consulting services include expertise with the integration of outside vendor add-ons to Exchange 2007 Server and the design of unified messaging solutions powered by Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.

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    Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can help organizations of all sizes to assess Windows 10 or to migrate to Windows 10 from any earlier release of Windows. Online and onsite assessment and migration support for Windows 10 offered by Progent include ROI estimates, project management, compatibility testing, test lab systems, Hyper-V virtualization architecture, Cloud solutions, mobile management, teleworker connectivity, security and compliance, automated deployment and management, network infrastructure design, wired/wireless convergence, disaster recovery planning, custom training for IT support staff and end users, and post-migration technical help.

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    Exchange 2013 includes significant improvements to the capabilities of its predecessor Microsoft Exchange 2010 and delivers important new features as well as a redesigned architecture. These improvements favorably impact vital areas such as ease of administration, high availability (HA), security, cost of ownership, collaboration, extensibility, throughput, cross-version interoperability, and the user experience. Progent's Microsoft-certified Exchange 2013 consulting experts can assist your organization to understand the possible advantages of upgrading to Microsoft Exchange 2013, design a cost-effective validation and rollout plan, and train your IT staff to manage your Microsoft Exchange 2013 solution. Progent can also provide ongoing remote consulting and management services for Exchange Server 2013.

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    Widows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V enhances virtualization in key areas including multitenancy, agile infrastructure, cloud support, scalability and throughput, and high availability. Progent's Microsoft-certified consulting experts can assist your business to benefit from Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V to deploy and manage virtual servers to reduce network costs and enhance productivity.

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    Lync 2010 supports Instant Messaging, Real Presence, audio and video conferencing, desktop collaboration, as well as IP-based and traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN) calling. Microsoft Lync Server 2010 can extend the capability of Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint Server and Office desktop or Microsoft 365 and simplify management through integration with Windows AD. Lync can also cut expenses by doing away with VoIP equipment and subscription fees, PBX gear, or legacy video conferencing technology. Progent's Microsoft-certified IM and Presence consultants can provide remote and on-premises support services to help your company to maintain and troubleshoot your existing Lync Server 2010 deployment or evaluate the benefits of migrating from Lync to Skype for Business, which is the new release of the product family. Progent can also help your organization to design and execute a smooth Skype for Business upgrade.

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    Dynamics GP 2010 accounting software is a full-featured business management solution that integrates data and operations throughout your company, interfaces seamlessly with other applications, and connects workers, clients and vendors unrestricted by time or place. Designed for small to mid-size businesses, Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 and Microsoft Dynamics GP Release 10.0 provide capability for accounting, analytics and reporting, project management, inventory and order control, e-commerce, HRM, customer relationship management, field service, manufacturing, retail management, and online business services. Progent can show you how to install and maintain a reliable, protected computer and network environment to support Microsoft Great Plains, and can provide experienced Great Plains professionals to help your business benefit from the full power of Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010.

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    Progentís Cisco Security/VPN consultants and CCIE and CCNP certified support staff can help your small or mid-size business deploy and support Ciscoís security and Virtual Private Network technology including routers, switches, firewalls, intrusion detection systems and VPN access concentrators. Cisco VPN products include both off-site access and site-to-site VPNs with Cisco IOS Software and AIM hardware encryption cards, and hardware appliances, such as a VPN concentrator, router, Cisco PIX Firewall, or dedicated VPN server for dial-up services. Cisco VPN products are simple to manage and provide the flexibility to evolve with your changing business needs. Progentís Cisco-Certified network consultants are familiar with Ciscoís complete family of products aimed at preventing data pilfering, virus and worm assaults, DDoS attacks, and other security risks to your information system. Progent can help you deploy Cisco products to get safe connectivity, intrusion protection, and comprehensive Identity services based on Cisco Access Control Server using RADIUS security and TACACS to establish a centralized client access control framework for user certification, permissions, and tracking from an easy-to-use Web interface.

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    Progent's Microsoft-certified Windows 2003 Server consultants offer computer support and expert consulting for the entire family of Microsoft .NET Enterprise Servers, Microsoft Windows 2003 Server, and Microsoft Windows 2000 Server. Progent's Windows 2003 upgrade, configuration, administration, and maintenance offerings include network design, installation, project management, on-site and off-site technical support and troubleshooting, Help Desk outsourcing, expert security services, comprehensive outsourcing, and expert co-sourcing.

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    Progentís team of expert programmers, relational database designers, and project managers can assist enterprise clients to complete development projects for Microsoft Windows, Linux/UNIX, or Web applications. Progent's co-sourcing services include access to veteran project managers for high-level planning and program co-ordination or Progent can assist clients fill in expertise gaps by offering database architects and software programmers skilled in developing line-of-business applications powered by SQL Server, Oracle, or MySQL. Progent's SharePoint Server consultants can help businesses to integrate SharePoint with additional applications such as Microsoft SQL and Office Excel to create data-intensive intranets and portal sites. Progent also offers experience with web development tools and can assist clients to create, enhance, troubleshoot, or port web applications to take advantage of the latest advances in web technology.

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