Crypto-Ransomware : Your Feared IT Catastrophe
Ransomware  Remediation ConsultantsRansomware has become a too-frequent cyberplague that poses an enterprise-level threat for businesses unprepared for an assault. Versions of ransomware such as CryptoLocker, WannaCry, Locky, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been around for many years and continue to inflict destruction. Recent versions of ransomware such as Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, LockBit or Egregor, along with more unnamed viruses, not only encrypt on-line files but also infiltrate all accessible system protection mechanisms. Information synchronized to cloud environments can also be rendered useless. In a poorly designed system, it can render any recovery hopeless and effectively knocks the entire system back to square one.

Getting back applications and data after a ransomware attack becomes a sprint against the clock as the victim struggles to stop the spread and eradicate the crypto-ransomware and to resume business-critical operations. Because ransomware takes time to replicate, attacks are usually launched during weekends and nights, when attacks may take longer to recognize. This compounds the difficulty of promptly marshalling and organizing a capable mitigation team.

Progent has a range of solutions for protecting enterprises from ransomware attacks. These include team member training to help identify and not fall victim to phishing exploits, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, along with deployment of modern security solutions with artificial intelligence capabilities from SentinelOne to discover and suppress new cyber attacks automatically. Progent also offers the assistance of seasoned crypto-ransomware recovery engineers with the talent and perseverance to restore a breached network as quickly as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Support Services
Following a ransomware attack, paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not ensure that cyber criminals will provide the codes to decipher any or all of your data. Kaspersky ascertained that 17% of crypto-ransomware victims never restored their information after having paid the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The gamble is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms frequently range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well above the usual ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be around $13,000. The other path is to setup from scratch the critical elements of your Information Technology environment. Absent the availability of essential system backups, this requires a broad complement of IT skills, well-coordinated team management, and the ability to work continuously until the job is over.

For twenty years, Progent has offered certified expert IT services for companies in Chesapeake and across the US and has earned Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts includes professionals who have been awarded top industry certifications in foundation technologies like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distros of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity consultants have garnered internationally-renowned certifications including CISM, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent also has experience in accounting and ERP application software. This breadth of expertise affords Progent the ability to quickly understand necessary systems and integrate the remaining components of your IT environment after a ransomware penetration and assemble them into an operational network.

Progent's ransomware team uses best of breed project management applications to coordinate the complicated restoration process. Progent appreciates the urgency of working rapidly and together with a customer's management and IT resources to assign priority to tasks and to put key applications back online as fast as humanly possible.

Case Study: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Virus Response
A small business hired Progent after their organization was brought down by Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is thought to have been launched by Northern Korean state sponsored hackers, possibly adopting techniques leaked from America's NSA organization. Ryuk goes after specific organizations with little tolerance for disruption and is among the most lucrative instances of ransomware. High publicized victims include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing company, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a single-location manufacturer based in the Chicago metro area and has about 500 employees. The Ryuk penetration had brought down all company operations and manufacturing capabilities. The majority of the client's information backups had been online at the time of the intrusion and were eventually encrypted. The client was taking steps for paying the ransom (more than $200,000) and wishfully thinking for good luck, but in the end reached out to Progent.


"I can't thank you enough in regards to the care Progent provided us during the most fearful time of (our) businesses existence. We most likely would have paid the hackers behind this attack except for the confidence the Progent group afforded us. The fact that you could get our e-mail system and key servers back online faster than five days was amazing. Every single consultant I got help from or communicated with at Progent was totally committed on getting us operational and was working at all hours to bail us out."

Progent worked hand in hand the client to quickly identify and prioritize the mission critical applications that had to be restored in order to restart company operations:

  • Windows Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Accounting/MRP
To get going, Progent adhered to Anti-virus incident mitigation best practices by halting lateral movement and clearing infected systems. Progent then initiated the work of restoring Microsoft AD, the key technology of enterprise systems built on Microsoft Windows Server technology. Microsoft Exchange email will not work without Windows AD, and the customer's accounting and MRP software utilized SQL Server, which needs Active Directory services for authentication to the databases.

Within 2 days, Progent was able to re-build Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then helped perform reinstallations and hard drive recovery on key servers. All Exchange ties and attributes were usable, which greatly helped the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to collect intact OST files (Microsoft Outlook Offline Data Files) on user desktop computers to recover email messages. A not too old offline backup of the businesses accounting systems made them able to restore these essential applications back online. Although a lot of work was left to recover completely from the Ryuk damage, critical systems were restored quickly:


"For the most part, the production manufacturing operation was never shut down and we made all customer orders."

During the following few weeks important milestones in the restoration process were made through tight cooperation between Progent engineers and the client:

  • In-house web applications were restored without losing any data.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server containing more than 4 million historical messages was brought on-line and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoicing/AP/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory capabilities were completely recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 security appliance was deployed.
  • Nearly all of the desktops and laptops were being used by staff.

"So much of what happened that first week is mostly a fog for me, but my team will not forget the care all of your team put in to help get our business back. I've entrusted Progent for the past ten years, possibly more, and each time I needed help Progent has come through and delivered as promised. This time was a testament to your capabilities."

Conclusion
A possible enterprise-killing disaster was averted due to hard-working professionals, a wide array of knowledge, and close collaboration. Although upon completion of forensics the crypto-ransomware virus incident described here could have been identified and prevented with modern security systems and best practices, team training, and properly executed security procedures for information protection and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the fact is that government-sponsored cybercriminals from China, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and will continue. If you do get hit by a ransomware virus, remember that Progent's team of professionals has substantial experience in ransomware virus defense, removal, and information systems restoration.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others who were involved), thank you for making it so I could get rested after we made it through the first week. Everyone did an fabulous job, and if anyone that helped is around the Chicago area, dinner is the least I can do!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent can provide companies in Chesapeake a variety of online monitoring and security assessment services to help you to reduce your vulnerability to ransomware. These services include modern artificial intelligence capability to uncover zero-day strains of ransomware that can escape detection by traditional signature-based anti-virus products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection service that incorporates SentinelOne's next generation behavior analysis technology to guard physical and virtual endpoints against new malware assaults like ransomware and email phishing, which routinely escape legacy signature-based anti-virus tools. ProSight Active Security Monitoring safeguards local and cloud-based resources and provides a single platform to automate the complete threat progression including protection, identification, containment, cleanup, and forensics. Top capabilities include single-click rollback using Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and real-time system-wide immunization against newly discovered threats. Progent is a SentinelOne Partner, dealer, and integrator. Read more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring endpoint protection and ransomware defense.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Physical and Virtual Endpoint Security and Microsoft Exchange Email Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) managed services offer ultra-affordable multi-layer security for physical servers and VMs, workstations, smartphones, and Exchange Server. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and advanced machine learning for continuously monitoring and responding to security threats from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP offers two-way firewall protection, penetration alerts, endpoint control, and web filtering via cutting-edge tools incorporated within one agent accessible from a single console. Progent's security and virtualization experts can assist you to plan and configure a ProSight ESP environment that addresses your company's unique requirements and that helps you demonstrate compliance with government and industry data protection standards. Progent will assist you define and configure security policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and respond to alarms that call for urgent attention. Progent can also help you to install and verify a backup and restore system such as ProSight Data Protection Services so you can get back in business quickly 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: Backup and Disaster Recovery Services
    Progent has partnered with advanced backup/restore software providers to create ProSight Data Protection Services, a selection of offerings that deliver backup-as-a-service (BaaS). ProSight DPS services automate and monitor your backup operations and enable non-disruptive backup and fast recovery of important files/folders, apps, images, and virtual machines. ProSight DPS lets your business avoid data loss caused by equipment breakdown, natural calamities, fire, malware such as ransomware, user mistakes, malicious employees, or application glitches. Managed services available in the ProSight Data Protection Services product family include ProSight Altaro VM Backup, ProSight 365 Total Backup (formerly Altaro 365 Backup), ProSight DPS ECHO Backup based on Barracuda dedicated hardware, and ProSight DPS MSP360 Cloud and On-prem Backup. Your Progent service representative can assist you to identify which of these fully managed backup services are most appropriate 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 uses the infrastructure of top information security vendors to deliver centralized control and comprehensive security for your inbound and outbound email. The hybrid structure of Progent's Email Guard managed service combines a Cloud Protection Layer with an on-premises security gateway appliance to offer advanced defense against spam, viruses, Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, DHAs, and other email-borne malware. Email Guard's Cloud Protection Layer acts as a preliminary barricade and blocks most threats from reaching your network firewall. This reduces your vulnerability to external threats and saves network bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's on-premises security gateway appliance provides a further layer of analysis for incoming email. For outgoing email, the on-premises gateway offers anti-virus and anti-spam filtering, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The local gateway can also assist Exchange Server to monitor and protect internal email that stays within your corporate firewall. For more information, visit ProSight Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Infrastructure Remote Monitoring and Management
    ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure management service that makes it easy and inexpensive for small and mid-sized businesses to map, monitor, optimize and troubleshoot their networking appliances such as routers and switches, firewalls, and access points as well as servers, printers, client computers and other networked devices. Incorporating state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, WAN Watch ensures that infrastructure topology diagrams are kept updated, captures and manages the configuration information of virtually all devices on your network, monitors performance, and generates notices when problems are detected. By automating tedious management processes, WAN Watch can cut hours off common chores like making network diagrams, expanding your network, locating appliances that require important updates, or isolating performance bottlenecks. Learn more details about ProSight WAN Watch network infrastructure monitoring and management services.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Remote Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progent's server and desktop monitoring managed service that uses state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management technology to help keep your IT system running at peak levels by checking the state of critical computers that power your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers a problem, an alert is sent automatically to your specified IT management staff and your assigned Progent engineering consultant so any potential issues can be resolved before they have a chance to disrupt your network. Find out more details about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop monitoring consulting.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted Virtual Machines at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size organization can have its critical servers and applications hosted in a secure fault tolerant data center on a high-performance virtual machine host configured and managed by Progent's IT support professionals. With the ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the client owns the data, the operating system software, and the applications. Because the system is virtualized, it can be ported easily to a different hardware environment without a time-consuming and difficult configuration procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not tied a single hosting provider. Find out 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 allows you to create, maintain, find and safeguard data about your IT infrastructure, processes, applications, and services. You can quickly find passwords or serial numbers and be warned about impending expirations of SSL certificates ,domains or warranties. By updating and managing your IT documentation, you can eliminate up to 50% of time spent trying to find vital information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a centralized repository for holding and collaborating on all documents required for managing your business network such as standard operating procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports advanced automation for collecting and relating IT information. Whether you're making enhancements, performing regular maintenance, or reacting to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the data you require when you need it. Read more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.

  • Active Defense Against Ransomware: AI-based Ransomware Identification and Remediation
    Progent's Active Defense Against Ransomware is an endpoint protection solution that utilizes cutting edge behavior analysis technology to guard endpoints and servers and VMs against new malware assaults like ransomware and email phishing, which routinely evade traditional signature-matching AV products. Progent ASM services protect on-premises and cloud resources and provides a unified platform to manage the entire threat progression including protection, detection, containment, remediation, and forensics. Key capabilities include one-click rollback using Windows VSS and automatic system-wide immunization against new threats. Find out more about Progent's ransomware protection and cleanup services.

  • Outsourced/Co-managed Service Desk: Call Center Managed Services
    Progent's Support Desk services allow your information technology staff to outsource Call Center services to Progent or divide responsibilities for support services seamlessly between your in-house network support team and Progent's nationwide pool of IT service technicians, engineers and subject matter experts. Progent's Co-managed Service Desk offers a smooth supplement to your in-house IT support group. End user interaction with the Service Desk, delivery of technical assistance, problem escalation, ticket generation and tracking, performance metrics, and maintenance of the service database are cohesive whether incidents are taken care of by your internal network support organization, by Progent, or both. Learn more about Progent's outsourced/co-managed Service Desk services.

  • Progent's Patch Management: Software/Firmware Update Management Services
    Progent's managed services for software and firmware patch management offer organizations of any size a versatile and cost-effective alternative for assessing, testing, scheduling, implementing, and documenting updates to your ever-evolving IT system. Besides optimizing the security and functionality of your computer network, Progent's patch management services allow your in-house IT team to focus on line-of-business initiatives and activities that derive maximum business value from your information network. Learn more about Progent's patch management services.

  • ProSight Duo Two-Factor Authentication: Access Security, Endpoint Policy Enforcement, and Secure Single Sign-on
    Progent's Duo authentication managed services incorporate Cisco's Duo technology to protect against password theft through the use of two-factor authentication. Duo enables single-tap identity confirmation on Apple iOS, Android, and other out-of-band devices. Using 2FA, when you sign into a protected application and give your password you are requested to confirm who you are via a unit that only you possess and that is accessed using a different ("out-of-band") network channel. A wide range of out-of-band devices can be used as this second means of authentication including an iPhone or Android or watch, a hardware token, a landline phone, etc. You may designate several validation devices. To find out more about Duo two-factor identity validation services, refer to Cisco Duo MFA two-factor authentication services.

  • ProSight Reporting: Real-time Reporting for Ticketing and Network Monitoring Platforms
    ProSight Reporting is a growing family of real-time and in-depth management reporting utilities designed to work with the leading ticketing and network monitoring platforms such as ConnectWise Manage, ConnectWise Automate, Customer Thermometer, Auvik, and SentinelOne. ProSight Reporting uses Microsoft Graph and features color coding to surface and contextualize critical issues such as inconsistent support follow-up or machines with missing patches. By identifying ticketing or network health concerns clearly and in near-real time, ProSight Reporting enhances productivity, lowers management overhead, and saves money. For more information, visit ProSight Reporting for ticketing and network monitoring applications.
For Chesapeake 24-Hour CryptoLocker Repair Consulting, call Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.