Ransomware : Your Feared IT Disaster
Crypto-Ransomware  Remediation ExpertsRansomware has become a too-frequent cyber pandemic that poses an existential threat for businesses vulnerable to an attack. Versions of ransomware such as Reveton, Fusob, Locky, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been circulating for years and continue to inflict havoc. Recent versions of crypto-ransomware such as Ryuk and Hermes, along with daily as yet unnamed malware, not only encrypt on-line data but also infiltrate all accessible system protection mechanisms. Data synched to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be ransomed. In a vulnerable system, it can render automatic restoration hopeless and effectively sets the network back to square one.

Getting back programs and data following a ransomware attack becomes a race against the clock as the victim tries its best to contain and cleanup the virus and to resume mission-critical operations. Since ransomware requires time to move laterally, assaults are often sprung on weekends and holidays, when penetrations typically take more time to detect. This multiplies the difficulty of rapidly assembling and coordinating an experienced response team.

Progent makes available a variety of solutions for securing organizations from ransomware events. These include team education to become familiar with and avoid phishing exploits, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, in addition to setup and configuration of the latest generation security gateways with artificial intelligence capabilities to automatically detect and suppress zero-day cyber threats. Progent in addition offers the services of expert crypto-ransomware recovery engineers with the skills and perseverance to re-deploy a compromised environment as soon as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Recovery Help
Soon after a crypto-ransomware attack, even paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not provide any assurance that criminal gangs will respond with the codes to decrypt any or all of your data. Kaspersky ascertained that seventeen percent of ransomware victims never restored their data after having sent off the ransom, resulting in increased losses. The gamble is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms frequently range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly higher than the typical ransomware demands, which ZDNET averages to be approximately $13,000. The fallback is to setup from scratch the mission-critical components of your Information Technology environment. Absent the availability of full system backups, this requires a wide range of skill sets, top notch team management, and the ability to work non-stop until the task is finished.

For two decades, Progent has made available expert Information Technology services for businesses in Fargo 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 (SMEs) includes engineers who have earned advanced certifications in key technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security experts have garnered internationally-renowned industry certifications including CISM, CISSP-ISSAP, CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent also has expertise in financial management and ERP software solutions. This breadth of experience gives Progent the ability to knowledgably identify important systems and consolidate the surviving pieces of your network system following a crypto-ransomware attack and rebuild them into an operational network.

Progent's recovery group utilizes best of breed project management tools to orchestrate the complex recovery process. Progent understands the urgency of working swiftly and in concert with a client's management and IT resources to prioritize tasks and to put key applications back on-line as soon as possible.

Customer Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Virus Recovery
A small business contacted Progent after their organization was penetrated by Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been developed by North Korean state sponsored hackers, possibly adopting approaches exposed from the U.S. NSA organization. Ryuk goes after specific organizations with little or no room for disruption and is one of the most profitable incarnations of ransomware viruses. Headline targets include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a single-location manufacturer headquartered in Chicago and has around 500 employees. The Ryuk attack had paralyzed all essential operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's data protection had been on-line at the beginning of the attack and were eventually encrypted. The client considered paying the ransom (more than $200K) and hoping for the best, but in the end reached out to Progent.


"I canít say enough in regards to the help Progent provided us throughout the most critical period of (our) businesses survival. We would have paid the cybercriminals except for the confidence the Progent experts provided us. The fact that you could get our e-mail and key applications back into operation quicker than seven days was beyond my wildest dreams. Every single staff member I interacted with or texted at Progent was totally committed on getting us restored and was working day and night to bail us out."

Progent worked together with the customer to quickly determine and prioritize the mission critical systems that had to be addressed in order to resume business operations:

  • Windows Active Directory
  • Exchange Server
  • MRP System
To begin, Progent adhered to Anti-virus penetration mitigation best practices by isolating and cleaning systems of viruses. Progent then initiated the task of bringing back online Windows Active Directory, the heart of enterprise systems built upon Microsoft Windows technology. Microsoft Exchange Server email will not function without Windows AD, and the customerís financials and MRP system leveraged SQL Server, which requires Active Directory for access to the database.

In less than two days, Progent was able to restore Windows Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then completed rebuilding and hard drive recovery of the most important systems. All Exchange ties and configuration information were usable, which facilitated the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to assemble non-encrypted OST files (Outlook Email Off-Line Data Files) on various workstations and laptops in order to recover mail information. A not too old off-line backup of the businesses financials/ERP software made it possible to restore these vital services back online for users. Although a lot of work needed to be completed to recover fully from the Ryuk virus, the most important services were recovered rapidly:


"For the most part, the production manufacturing operation showed little impact and we did not miss any customer shipments."

Over the next month important milestones in the recovery process were achieved through tight collaboration between Progent consultants and the client:

  • Self-hosted web sites were brought back up with no loss of data.
  • The MailStore Server containing more than four million historical messages was spun up and available for users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoices/Accounts Payable (AP)/Accounts Receivables/Inventory Control functions were fully operational.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 security appliance was brought on-line.
  • 90% of the user desktops and notebooks were back into operation.

"A huge amount of what occurred those first few days is nearly entirely a haze for me, but we will not forget the commitment each of you put in to give us our business back. I have trusted Progent for the past ten years, possibly more, and every time I needed help Progent has impressed me and delivered. This event was a life saver."

Conclusion
A likely company-ending disaster was evaded with dedicated experts, a wide range of subject matter expertise, and close teamwork. Although in hindsight the crypto-ransomware virus attack described here would have been disabled with advanced cyber security solutions and ISO/IEC 27001 best practices, team training, and appropriate incident response procedures for information protection and proper patching controls, the fact remains that government-sponsored cybercriminals from China, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and represent an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a ransomware incursion, remember that Progent's team of professionals has a proven track record in crypto-ransomware virus defense, remediation, and information systems restoration.


"So, to Darrin, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others that were contributing), thanks very much for letting me get some sleep after we made it through the first week. All of you did an fabulous effort, and if any of your guys is in the Chicago area, a great meal is on me!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent can provide companies in Fargo a range of online monitoring and security assessment services designed to help you to reduce your vulnerability to ransomware. These services incorporate next-generation AI technology to detect new variants of crypto-ransomware that are able to get past traditional signature-based anti-virus products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection solution that utilizes cutting edge behavior machine learning tools to defend physical and virtual endpoints against new malware assaults like ransomware and file-less exploits, which easily get by legacy signature-matching AV tools. ProSight Active Security Monitoring safeguards local and cloud-based resources and offers a unified platform to address the entire malware attack lifecycle including protection, detection, mitigation, cleanup, and post-attack forensics. Key capabilities include one-click rollback using Windows VSS and real-time network-wide immunization against newly discovered attacks. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware defense.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Physical and Virtual Endpoint Security and Microsoft Exchange Email Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection managed services deliver affordable in-depth protection for physical and virtual servers, desktops, smartphones, and Microsoft Exchange. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and advanced heuristics for round-the-clock monitoring and responding to security assaults from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP provides two-way firewall protection, intrusion alarms, endpoint management, and web filtering via leading-edge tools incorporated within one agent managed from a unified control. Progent's security and virtualization experts can help you to design and implement a ProSight ESP environment that meets your company's unique needs and that helps you prove compliance with government and industry information protection regulations. Progent will help you specify and configure security policies that ProSight ESP will manage, and Progent will monitor your network and react to alarms that call for immediate action. Progent can also assist you to set up and verify a backup and disaster recovery system like ProSight Data Protection Services so you can recover rapidly from a destructive cyber attack such as ransomware. Read more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified physical and virtual endpoint protection and Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services provide small and medium-sized organizations an affordable end-to-end service for reliable backup/disaster recovery. Available at a low monthly price, ProSight Data Protection Services automates your backup processes and allows rapid recovery of critical files, apps and VMs that have become unavailable or corrupted due to hardware breakdowns, software bugs, disasters, human mistakes, or malicious attacks such as ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you back up, retrieve and restore files, folders, apps, system images, as well as Hyper-V and VMware images/. Critical data can be protected on the cloud, to an on-promises storage device, or mirrored to both. Progent's BDR specialists can provide advanced expertise to set up ProSight Data Protection Services to be compliant with regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, FIRPA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever needed, can help you to restore your business-critical data. Find out more about ProSight DPS Managed Cloud Backup and Recovery.

  • ProSight Email Guard: Inbound and Outbound Spam Filtering and Data Leakage Protection
    ProSight Email Guard is Progent's spam and virus filtering and email encryption service that uses the technology of top information security companies to deliver centralized control and world-class protection for your email traffic. The hybrid architecture of Progent's Email Guard combines a Cloud Protection Layer with a local gateway appliance to provide complete protection against spam, viruses, Dos Attacks, DHAs, and other email-borne threats. The cloud filter serves as a preliminary barricade and blocks most threats from making it to your network firewall. This decreases your vulnerability to inbound attacks and saves network bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's onsite security gateway device adds a deeper layer of analysis for incoming email. For outbound email, the local gateway provides AV and anti-spam filtering, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The on-premises gateway can also help Microsoft Exchange Server to track and protect internal email traffic that stays within your security perimeter. For more details, see ProSight 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 affordable for small and mid-sized organizations to diagram, track, optimize and debug their connectivity hardware like routers, firewalls, and load balancers plus servers, client computers and other devices. Using state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, ProSight WAN Watch makes sure that infrastructure topology diagrams are always updated, copies and displays the configuration of almost all devices connected to your network, tracks performance, and sends notices when potential issues are discovered. By automating tedious management and troubleshooting activities, WAN Watch can knock hours off common tasks such as network mapping, expanding your network, locating appliances that require critical updates, or isolating performance issues. Find out more about ProSight WAN Watch network infrastructure monitoring and 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 state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management technology to help keep your IT system operating efficiently by tracking the state of vital computers that power your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch detects a problem, an alarm is sent automatically to your designated IT personnel and your assigned Progent consultant so all potential problems can be resolved before they can disrupt productivity. Find out more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop 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 protected Tier III data center on a fast virtual host set up and managed by Progent's IT support professionals. With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the customer retains ownership of the data, the OS software, and the applications. Since the system is virtualized, it can be ported easily to an alternate hardware environment without requiring a time-consuming and technically risky reinstallation procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not locked into one hosting service. Find out more about ProSight Virtual Hosting services.

  • ProSight IT Asset Management: Network Documentation Management
    Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service is a cloud-based IT documentation management service that makes it easy to create, maintain, find and safeguard data about your IT infrastructure, processes, business apps, and services. You can instantly locate passwords or IP addresses and be warned about upcoming expirations of SSLs or domains. By cleaning up and managing your IT infrastructure documentation, you can save up to half of time wasted trying to find critical information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a centralized location for storing and sharing all documents required for managing your network infrastructure such as standard operating procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also offers a high level of automation for gathering and associating IT information. Whether youíre making enhancements, doing regular maintenance, or responding to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management gets you the data you need as soon as you need it. Read more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Fargo 24x7x365 Crypto Remediation Experts, call Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.