Ransomware : Your Crippling Information Technology Catastrophe
Ransomware  Remediation ProfessionalsRansomware has become an escalating cyber pandemic that poses an extinction-level threat for businesses unprepared for an attack. Different versions of ransomware such as Reveton, Fusob, Locky, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been circulating for years and still inflict destruction. Modern strains of ransomware such as Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, Snatch or Egregor, as well as additional unnamed malware, not only do encryption of on-line data but also infect all accessible system backups. Files replicated to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be corrupted. In a poorly designed environment, it can make automatic recovery impossible and effectively knocks the network back to square one.

Getting back programs and data following a ransomware attack becomes a race against time as the victim fights to stop the spread and cleanup the ransomware and to restore business-critical activity. Due to the fact that ransomware needs time to spread, penetrations are usually sprung on weekends and holidays, when attacks may take more time to recognize. This compounds the difficulty of quickly marshalling and coordinating a qualified mitigation team.

Progent provides a range of services for protecting enterprises from crypto-ransomware attacks. These include user education to help identify and avoid phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, in addition to setup and configuration of modern security appliances with artificial intelligence capabilities from SentinelOne to identify and extinguish zero-day cyber threats quickly. Progent in addition provides the assistance of veteran crypto-ransomware recovery consultants with the skills and perseverance to restore a breached system as rapidly as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Services
Soon after a crypto-ransomware attack, sending the ransom in cryptocurrency does not guarantee that cyber hackers will respond with the codes to unencrypt all your files. Kaspersky estimated that seventeen percent of ransomware victims never recovered their data after having paid the ransom, resulting in more losses. The risk is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms often range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly above the usual crypto-ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be approximately $13,000. The alternative is to piece back together the mission-critical components of your Information Technology environment. Without access to full information backups, this requires a broad complement of skill sets, top notch project management, and the willingness to work non-stop until the job is complete.

For twenty years, Progent has provided certified expert IT services for businesses in Madison and across the United States and has achieved Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes engineers who have attained top industry certifications in important technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distros of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity engineers have earned internationally-renowned industry certifications including CISM, CISSP-ISSAP, ISACA CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has experience in financial management and ERP software solutions. This breadth of expertise affords Progent the skills to knowledgably determine important systems and consolidate the surviving parts of your computer network system following a ransomware attack and configure them into an operational system.

Progent's recovery team utilizes state-of-the-art project management systems to coordinate the complicated recovery process. Progent appreciates the urgency of acting swiftly and together with a client's management and Information Technology resources to assign priority to tasks and to get key systems back online as soon as possible.

Business Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Penetration Recovery
A business escalated to Progent after their network was taken over by Ryuk ransomware virus. Ryuk is thought to have been deployed by Northern Korean government sponsored criminal gangs, possibly using technology exposed from the United States NSA organization. Ryuk attacks specific organizations with limited ability to sustain operational disruption and is among the most profitable iterations of ransomware. Headline victims include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a single-location manufacturing business headquartered in Chicago with about 500 workers. The Ryuk attack had disabled all business operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's backups had been directly accessible at the beginning of the attack and were encrypted. The client was evaluating paying the ransom demand (in excess of $200K) and wishfully thinking for the best, but ultimately utilized Progent.


"I can't say enough about the help Progent gave us during the most stressful period of (our) businesses existence. We had little choice but to pay the hackers behind this attack if not for the confidence the Progent group provided us. The fact that you were able to get our messaging and important applications back into operation faster than seven days was earth shattering. Each staff member I got help from or communicated with at Progent was absolutely committed on getting us back online and was working all day and night on our behalf."

Progent worked together with the customer to quickly assess and assign priority to the mission critical services that needed to be addressed to make it possible to restart company operations:

  • Active Directory (AD)
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Accounting and Manufacturing Software
To start, Progent adhered to AV/Malware Processes incident response best practices by halting the spread and cleaning systems of viruses. Progent then started the process of bringing back online Windows Active Directory, the heart of enterprise networks built on Microsoft Windows Server technology. Exchange messaging will not function without AD, and the customer's financials and MRP system utilized Microsoft SQL Server, which requires Active Directory services for authentication to the data.

Within two days, Progent was able to restore Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then performed rebuilding and storage recovery of mission critical servers. All Microsoft Exchange Server ties and configuration information were intact, which facilitated the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to find local OST files (Microsoft Outlook Offline Data Files) on user PCs in order to recover mail data. A recent off-line backup of the businesses financials/ERP software made it possible to recover these vital applications back servicing users. Although significant work was left to recover totally from the Ryuk attack, core systems were restored quickly:


"For the most part, the assembly line operation never missed a beat and we did not miss any customer shipments."

During the next few weeks key milestones in the restoration project were achieved through close cooperation between Progent consultants and the customer:

  • Self-hosted web applications were brought back up without losing any data.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server exceeding four million archived messages was brought online and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoices/Accounts Payable/AR/Inventory functions were 100 percent recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 firewall was brought on-line.
  • Nearly all of the user desktops and notebooks were being used by staff.

"So much of what was accomplished in the early hours is nearly entirely a haze for me, but I will not forget the countless hours each and every one of the team accomplished to help get our company back. I've been working together with Progent for the past ten years, maybe more, and every time I needed help Progent has shined and delivered. This situation was a Herculean accomplishment."

Conclusion
A likely company-ending disaster was avoided through the efforts of top-tier experts, a wide spectrum of IT skills, and close teamwork. Although in retrospect the crypto-ransomware attack described here would have been identified and prevented with modern security technology solutions and recognized best practices, staff training, and appropriate incident response procedures for backup and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the reality remains that state-sponsored criminal cyber gangs from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and will continue. If you do get hit by a ransomware virus, remember that Progent's roster of experts has a proven track record in ransomware virus blocking, removal, and information systems recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (along with others who were helping), I'm grateful for making it so I could get some sleep after we made it over the initial fire. Everyone did an amazing effort, and if any of your guys is in the Chicago area, a great meal is the least I can do!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent offers businesses in Madison a range of online monitoring and security evaluation services to assist you to minimize your vulnerability to ransomware. These services include next-generation machine learning technology to detect new variants of crypto-ransomware that are able to escape detection by traditional signature-based security solutions.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection (EPP) service that utilizes SentinelOne's next generation behavior analysis tools to defend physical and virtual endpoints against new malware assaults such as ransomware and file-less exploits, which easily escape traditional signature-based anti-virus products. ProSight ASM safeguards on-premises and cloud-based resources and offers a single platform to manage the entire malware attack lifecycle including filtering, identification, containment, cleanup, and forensics. Key capabilities include single-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service and automatic system-wide immunization against newly discovered threats. Progent is a SentinelOne Partner, dealer, and integrator. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Endpoint Protection and Exchange Email Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection services offer affordable in-depth security for physical and virtual servers, desktops, mobile devices, and Exchange Server. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and modern behavior analysis for round-the-clock monitoring and responding to cyber assaults from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP delivers two-way firewall protection, penetration alarms, device management, and web filtering via leading-edge tools incorporated within one agent accessible from a single console. Progent's security and virtualization experts can assist your business to design and configure a ProSight ESP deployment that addresses your organization's unique needs and that helps you prove compliance with government and industry information security regulations. Progent will help you define 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 verify a backup and restore solution like ProSight Data Protection Services so you can get back in business rapidly from a potentially disastrous cyber attack like ransomware. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified physical and virtual endpoint security and Microsoft Exchange filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Recovery Services
    Progent has partnered with advanced backup/restore technology providers to produce ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS), a portfolio of subscription-based management offerings that provide backup-as-a-service (BaaS). ProSight DPS products manage and track your backup operations and enable transparent backup and fast restoration of critical files, applications, system images, and Hyper-V and VMware virtual machines. ProSight DPS lets your business avoid data loss caused by hardware breakdown, natural disasters, fire, cyber attacks such as ransomware, human mistakes, ill-intentioned employees, or application bugs. Managed backup services in the ProSight Data Protection Services product line include ProSight Altaro VM Backup, ProSight 365 Total Backup (formerly Altaro 365 Backup), ProSight ECHO Backup based on Barracuda purpose-built hardware, and ProSight MSP360 Hybrid Backup. Your Progent service representative can assist you to determine which of these fully managed services are best suited 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 and email encryption service that incorporates the technology of leading information security companies to provide centralized management and comprehensive security for your email traffic. The powerful structure of Progent's Email Guard managed service combines cloud-based filtering with a local security gateway appliance to provide advanced protection against spam, viruses, Denial of Service Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks, and other email-based threats. Email Guard's Cloud Protection Layer acts as a first line of defense and blocks most threats from reaching your security perimeter. This decreases your exposure to inbound attacks and saves system bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's on-premises gateway device provides a further level of analysis for inbound email. For outgoing email, the local security gateway offers AV and anti-spam filtering, DLP, and email encryption. The on-premises gateway can also assist Microsoft Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard internal email that stays within your security perimeter. For more details, visit Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Infrastructure Management
    ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure monitoring and management service that makes it simple and affordable for smaller businesses to diagram, track, enhance and debug their networking appliances such as switches, firewalls, and load balancers plus servers, printers, client computers and other networked devices. Incorporating state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, WAN Watch makes sure that infrastructure topology diagrams are always updated, copies and manages the configuration of virtually all devices connected to your network, monitors performance, and sends notices when problems are discovered. By automating time-consuming management and troubleshooting processes, ProSight WAN Watch can cut hours off common tasks like network mapping, reconfiguring your network, locating appliances that need important updates, or resolving performance problems. Find out more about ProSight WAN Watch network infrastructure management services.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progent's server and desktop monitoring service that uses state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management techniques to help keep your IT system running efficiently by tracking the health of vital computers that power your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers a problem, an alert is sent automatically to your specified IT management personnel and your assigned Progent engineering consultant so that all potential problems can be addressed before they have a chance to disrupt your network. Learn more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small organization can have its key servers and applications hosted in a protected fault tolerant data center on a fast virtual machine host configured and managed by Progent's network support experts. Under Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the customer retains ownership of the data, the operating system platforms, and the apps. Since the system is virtualized, it can be moved easily to an alternate hardware solution without requiring a time-consuming and difficult reinstallation process. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not tied one 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 makes it easy to create, update, find and protect data about your network infrastructure, procedures, applications, and services. You can quickly find passwords or serial numbers and be warned automatically about impending expirations of SSL certificates or warranties. By cleaning up and organizing your IT infrastructure documentation, you can eliminate as much as half of time wasted trying to find vital information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a common repository for holding and sharing all documents related to managing your network infrastructure like recommended procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports advanced automation for gathering and relating IT information. Whether you're making enhancements, performing regular maintenance, or responding to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the information you need the instant you need it. Find out more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.

  • Progent Active Defense Against Ransomware: Machine Learning-based Ransomware Detection and Cleanup
    Progent's Active Defense Against Ransomware is an endpoint protection (EPP) solution that incorporates next generation behavior machine learning tools to guard endpoint devices and servers and VMs against modern malware assaults such as ransomware and file-less exploits, which easily get by legacy signature-matching anti-virus products. Progent ASM services protect local and cloud resources and offers a single platform to automate the entire malware attack lifecycle including protection, infiltration detection, containment, remediation, and post-attack forensics. Key features include single-click rollback using Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and automatic system-wide immunization against newly discovered attacks. Find out more about Progent's ransomware defense and recovery services.

  • Outsourced/Co-managed Service Desk: Support Desk Managed Services
    Progent's Call Desk managed services permit your information technology staff to offload Help Desk services to Progent or split activity for Help Desk services transparently between your internal network support group and Progent's nationwide pool of IT support technicians, engineers and subject matter experts (SMEs). Progent's Co-managed Service Desk provides a seamless extension of your core IT support team. User access to the Service Desk, provision of support, escalation, ticket creation and tracking, performance metrics, and management of the support database are cohesive whether incidents are resolved by your internal IT support organization, by Progent's team, or by a combination. Find out more about Progent's outsourced/co-managed Service Desk services.

  • Progent's Patch Management: Software/Firmware Update Management Services
    Progent's support services for software and firmware patch management offer businesses of all sizes a versatile and affordable solution for assessing, testing, scheduling, applying, and documenting software and firmware updates to your ever-evolving IT system. Besides optimizing the security and reliability of your computer environment, Progent's software/firmware update management services allow your IT team to focus on line-of-business projects and activities that deliver maximum business value from your network. Learn more about Progent's software/firmware update management support services.

  • ProSight Duo Two-Factor Authentication: Access Security, Endpoint Remediation, and Protected Single Sign-on
    Progent's Duo authentication managed services utilize Cisco's Duo cloud technology to protect against password theft by using two-factor authentication (2FA). Duo supports one-tap identity confirmation with Apple iOS, Google Android, and other out-of-band devices. Using Duo 2FA, whenever you sign into a protected application and enter your password you are asked to verify your identity via a unit that only you have and that is accessed using a different ("out-of-band") network channel. A broad selection of devices can be used for this second form of ID validation including a smartphone or wearable, a hardware token, a landline phone, etc. You can register several verification devices. For details about Duo two-factor identity validation services, go to Cisco Duo MFA two-factor authentication (2FA) services.

  • ProSight Reporting: Real-time Reporting for Ticketing and Network Monitoring Applications
    ProSight Reporting is a growing family of in-depth reporting plug-ins designed to work with the industry's leading ticketing and network monitoring platforms including ConnectWise Manage, ConnectWise Automate, Customer Thermometer, Auvik, and SentinelOne. ProSight Reporting uses Microsoft Graph and utilizes color coding to highlight and contextualize critical issues such as spotty support follow-up or machines with out-of-date AVs. By identifying ticketing or network health problems clearly and in near-real time, ProSight Reporting enhances productivity, reduces management overhead, and saves money. For more information, visit ProSight Reporting for ticketing and network monitoring platforms.
For Madison 24x7 Crypto Repair Experts, contact Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.