Ransomware : Your Worst Information Technology Nightmare
Crypto-Ransomware  Recovery ConsultantsCrypto-Ransomware has become a modern cyber pandemic that poses an existential danger for organizations poorly prepared for an attack. Different versions of crypto-ransomware such as Dharma, CryptoWall, Bad Rabbit, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been replicating for years and continue to inflict destruction. The latest versions of crypto-ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, Snatch or Nephilim, as well as daily as yet unnamed malware, not only do encryption of online information but also infiltrate any configured system restores and backups. Data synched to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be rendered useless. In a vulnerable system, this can render automated restore operations impossible and basically sets the datacenter back to square one.

Getting back services and data after a ransomware event becomes a race against the clock as the victim fights to stop the spread and clear the virus and to resume business-critical activity. Since crypto-ransomware needs time to replicate, assaults are frequently sprung during weekends and nights, when successful penetrations in many cases take more time to notice. This compounds the difficulty of quickly assembling and coordinating a capable mitigation team.

Progent provides a variety of solutions for protecting organizations from crypto-ransomware events. These include staff education to help recognize and not fall victim to phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, along with deployment of the latest generation security gateways with AI technology to intelligently discover and disable zero-day cyber attacks. Progent also can provide the services of veteran ransomware recovery consultants with the skills and commitment to rebuild a compromised system as urgently as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Recovery Help
Soon after a crypto-ransomware event, paying the ransom in cryptocurrency does not guarantee that cyber criminals will return the codes to unencrypt any of your information. Kaspersky Labs determined that 17% of ransomware victims never recovered their files even after having paid the ransom, resulting in more losses. The gamble is also costly. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well above the typical ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be around $13,000. The fallback is to re-install the vital elements of your Information Technology environment. Without access to complete information backups, this calls for a broad complement of skill sets, well-coordinated project management, and the ability to work non-stop until the task is completed.

For decades, Progent has offered certified expert Information Technology services for companies in Alpharetta and across the United States and has achieved Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts includes consultants who have attained advanced industry certifications in leading technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's security experts have garnered internationally-recognized industry certifications including CISA, CISSP-ISSAP, CRISC, and GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent also has expertise with accounting and ERP software solutions. This breadth of experience affords Progent the skills to rapidly identify critical systems and integrate the surviving parts of your IT environment after a crypto-ransomware penetration and configure them into an operational network.

Progent's security team uses top notch project management systems to orchestrate the complex recovery process. Progent understands the urgency of working quickly and in concert with a client's management and IT staff to assign priority to tasks and to get essential applications back on-line as soon as possible.

Customer Story: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Incident Recovery
A customer sought out Progent after their network was penetrated by the Ryuk ransomware virus. Ryuk is believed to have been deployed by Northern Korean state cybercriminals, possibly adopting algorithms leaked from Americaís NSA organization. Ryuk seeks specific businesses with little tolerance for operational disruption and is among the most profitable incarnations of ransomware. Well Known victims include Data Resolution, a California-based information warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a single-location manufacturing business based in Chicago with about 500 staff members. The Ryuk event had shut down all business operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's backups had been directly accessible at the beginning of the attack and were encrypted. The client was pursuing financing for paying the ransom demand (more than $200K) and wishfully thinking for the best, but in the end engaged Progent.


"I cannot say enough about the expertise Progent gave us during the most stressful time of (our) businesses existence. We had little choice but to pay the criminal gangs if not for the confidence the Progent group provided us. The fact that you could get our messaging and key applications back online quicker than 1 week was earth shattering. Every single person I talked with or e-mailed at Progent was totally committed on getting us operational and was working non-stop to bail us out."

Progent worked together with the client to quickly understand and assign priority to the key areas that had to be restored to make it possible to restart departmental functions:

  • Active Directory (AD)
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Accounting and Manufacturing Software
To get going, Progent followed Anti-virus penetration mitigation industry best practices by stopping lateral movement and clearing up compromised systems. Progent then initiated the task of recovering Active Directory, the key technology of enterprise networks built upon Microsoft Windows technology. Microsoft Exchange Server messaging will not operate without Active Directory, and the businessesí accounting and MRP applications leveraged Microsoft SQL Server, which depends on Active Directory services for security authorization to the databases.

Within 2 days, Progent was able to re-build Active Directory services to its pre-virus state. Progent then performed setup and hard drive recovery on key applications. All Exchange Server ties and attributes were intact, which greatly helped the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was also able to assemble non-encrypted OST files (Outlook Email Offline Data Files) on user PCs to recover mail information. A not too old offline backup of the businesses accounting systems made them able to return these essential programs back online for users. Although a lot of work was left to recover totally from the Ryuk damage, core services were restored quickly:


"For the most part, the production line operation showed little impact and we delivered all customer shipments."

During the following few weeks key milestones in the restoration project were achieved through tight cooperation between Progent engineers and the customer:

  • Internal web sites were returned to operation without losing any data.
  • The MailStore Server exceeding four million archived messages was restored to operations and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoicing/Accounts Payable (AP)/Accounts Receivables/Inventory capabilities were completely operational.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was set up.
  • Ninety percent of the desktop computers were functioning as before the incident.

"Much of what was accomplished during the initial response is mostly a fog for me, but I will not soon forget the countless hours each and every one of your team put in to give us our business back. Iíve utilized Progent for at least 10 years, possibly more, and each time Progent has come through and delivered as promised. This time was a testament to your capabilities."

Conclusion
A potential business extinction disaster was averted with top-tier professionals, a broad range of IT skills, and close teamwork. Although upon completion of forensics the crypto-ransomware incident described here could have been disabled with modern security systems and ISO/IEC 27001 best practices, team training, and properly executed incident response procedures for data protection and applying software patches, the reality is that government-sponsored cyber criminals from China, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and are an ongoing threat. If you do get hit by a crypto-ransomware virus, feel confident that Progent's team of experts has proven experience in crypto-ransomware virus blocking, mitigation, and file recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (along with others who were helping), thank you for letting me get rested after we got through the most critical parts. Everyone did an incredible effort, and if anyone that helped is around the Chicago area, dinner is the least I can do!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent can provide businesses in Alpharetta a portfolio of remote monitoring and security assessment services designed to help you to reduce your vulnerability to crypto-ransomware. These services include modern AI technology to detect new variants of crypto-ransomware that are able to escape detection by traditional signature-based security products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection (EPP) solution that incorporates next generation behavior machine learning tools to guard physical and virtual endpoint devices against modern malware assaults like ransomware and file-less exploits, which routinely evade legacy signature-matching anti-virus tools. ProSight Active Security Monitoring safeguards on-premises and cloud resources and provides a single platform to automate the entire malware attack progression including protection, identification, mitigation, cleanup, and forensics. Key capabilities include single-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service and real-time system-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): Endpoint Security and Exchange Email Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) managed services deliver ultra-affordable multi-layer protection for physical servers and VMs, workstations, mobile devices, and Microsoft Exchange. ProSight ESP uses adaptive security and advanced machine learning for continuously monitoring and reacting to security assaults from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP provides firewall protection, intrusion alerts, device management, and web filtering through leading-edge technologies incorporated within one agent accessible from a single console. Progent's data protection and virtualization consultants 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 data security standards. Progent will help you define and configure policies that ProSight ESP will manage, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and respond to alarms that call for immediate action. Progent can also assist your company to set up and verify a backup and restore solution such as ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can get back in business rapidly from a destructive cyber attack like ransomware. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified endpoint protection and Microsoft Exchange filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services offer small and medium-sized businesses a low cost and fully managed solution for secure backup/disaster recovery (BDR). Available at a fixed monthly price, ProSight DPS automates and monitors your backup processes and allows rapid recovery of critical files, apps and virtual machines that have become unavailable or corrupted as a result of component breakdowns, software glitches, disasters, human error, or malicious attacks like ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you back up, retrieve and restore files, folders, applications, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Important data can be backed up on the cloud, to an on-promises device, or to both. Progent's cloud backup consultants can provide world-class expertise to configure ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with government and industry regulatory requirements like HIPAA, FIRPA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, when necessary, can help you to recover 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 service that incorporates the infrastructure of leading information security companies to provide centralized control and comprehensive security for all your email traffic. The powerful structure of Progent's Email Guard managed service combines cloud-based filtering with a local gateway appliance to provide complete defense against spam, viruses, Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks, and other email-borne malware. The cloud filter serves as a preliminary barricade and blocks the vast majority of threats from making it to your network firewall. This decreases your exposure to inbound threats and conserves network bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's onsite gateway device provides a deeper level of inspection for inbound email. For outgoing email, the on-premises gateway offers anti-virus and anti-spam filtering, policy-based Data Loss Prevention, and email encryption. The local gateway can also help Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard internal email that stays within your corporate firewall. For more information, 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 smaller businesses to map out, track, reconfigure and troubleshoot their networking appliances such as routers, firewalls, and load balancers plus servers, endpoints and other devices. Incorporating state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management technology, WAN Watch ensures that infrastructure topology maps are kept current, captures and manages the configuration information of almost all devices connected to your network, tracks performance, and sends alerts when problems are discovered. By automating complex management and troubleshooting activities, WAN Watch can knock hours off ordinary tasks like network mapping, reconfiguring your network, locating devices that require important updates, or identifying the cause of performance bottlenecks. Find out more details about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Remote Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop monitoring managed service that uses advanced remote monitoring and management (RMM) techniques to help keep your network running at peak levels by tracking the health of vital assets that drive your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch detects an issue, an alarm is sent immediately to your specified IT personnel and your Progent engineering consultant so that all potential issues can be addressed before they have a chance to impact productivity. Learn more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted Virtual Machines at Progent's World-class Data Center
    With ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size organization can have its key servers and applications hosted in a secure fault tolerant data center on a high-performance virtual host configured and maintained by Progent's IT support experts. With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the client owns the data, the operating system software, and the applications. Since the system is virtualized, it can be ported easily to a different hardware environment without a time-consuming and difficult reinstallation procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not tied a single hosting provider. Learn 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 allows you to capture, update, retrieve and protect data related to your network infrastructure, procedures, applications, and services. You can instantly locate passwords or serial numbers and be alerted about upcoming expirations of SSLs ,domains or warranties. By updating and organizing your IT documentation, you can eliminate up to half of time thrown away searching for critical information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a common repository for storing and sharing all documents related to managing your business network like standard operating procedures (SOPs) and self-service instructions. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports advanced automation for collecting and relating IT data. Whether youíre planning enhancements, doing maintenance, or responding to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the knowledge you need as soon as you need it. Read more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Alpharetta 24-Hour Ransomware Remediation Consultants, call Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.