Crypto-Ransomware : Your Crippling Information Technology Disaster
Crypto-Ransomware  Remediation ConsultantsRansomware has become a modern cyberplague that represents an extinction-level danger for businesses of all sizes vulnerable to an assault. Different versions of crypto-ransomware like the Dharma, CryptoWall, Locky, Syskey and MongoLock cryptoworms have been out in the wild for a long time and still inflict destruction. More recent strains of ransomware such as Ryuk and Hermes, plus frequent unnamed malware, not only do encryption of online files but also infect all configured system backup. Information synched to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be ransomed. In a poorly architected environment, this can render automatic restoration useless and basically sets the entire system back to square one.

Restoring services and data following a ransomware event becomes a race against time as the targeted organization fights to stop the spread and cleanup the ransomware and to restore mission-critical operations. Due to the fact that ransomware requires time to move laterally, penetrations are often launched during nights and weekends, when successful penetrations typically take longer to recognize. This compounds the difficulty of promptly assembling and organizing an experienced response team.

Progent offers an assortment of help services for protecting organizations from crypto-ransomware events. These include user education to help identify and not fall victim to phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, along with setup and configuration of modern security appliances with artificial intelligence capabilities to intelligently discover and quarantine new cyber attacks. Progent also offers the services of experienced crypto-ransomware recovery consultants with the track record and commitment to reconstruct a compromised environment as soon as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Restoration Services
Subsequent to a ransomware penetration, paying the ransom in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not guarantee that merciless criminals will provide the keys to decrypt any or all of your data. Kaspersky Labs estimated that 17% of ransomware victims never restored their information after having paid the ransom, resulting in more losses. The risk is also costly. Ryuk ransoms often range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is significantly above the usual ransomware demands, which ZDNET averages to be around $13,000. The other path is to re-install the critical parts of your Information Technology environment. Absent access to full data backups, this calls for a broad complement of IT skills, well-coordinated project management, and the willingness to work continuously until the recovery project is finished.

For twenty years, Progent has offered certified expert Information Technology services for businesses in Irvine and throughout the United States and has earned Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes consultants who have earned top certifications in foundation technologies like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's security consultants have earned internationally-renowned certifications including CISA, CISSP-ISSAP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise in financial management and ERP application software. This breadth of experience affords Progent the ability to rapidly identify necessary systems and consolidate the surviving parts of your IT system after a ransomware penetration and rebuild them into an operational network.

Progent's recovery team of experts deploys state-of-the-art project management tools to orchestrate the complicated recovery process. Progent knows the importance of working rapidly and in unison with a customerís management and Information Technology team members to prioritize tasks and to put the most important services back online as fast as humanly possible.

Business Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Attack Response
A small business contacted Progent after their network system was crashed by Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been created by Northern Korean state sponsored hackers, possibly adopting techniques exposed from the U.S. National Security Agency. Ryuk seeks specific organizations with little tolerance for operational disruption and is one of the most profitable incarnations of ransomware viruses. Major victims include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing company, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a small manufacturing business located in the Chicago metro area and has around 500 staff members. The Ryuk penetration had paralyzed all company operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's data protection had been on-line at the beginning of the intrusion and were damaged. The client was taking steps for paying the ransom demand (exceeding $200K) and wishfully thinking for the best, but in the end brought in Progent.


"I canít thank you enough about the expertise Progent gave us during the most fearful time of (our) businesses survival. We had little choice but to pay the cyber criminals behind the attack if not for the confidence the Progent experts provided us. That you could get our messaging and essential servers back on-line faster than five days was incredible. Each staff member I interacted with or texted at Progent was urgently focused on getting us restored and was working day and night to bail us out."

Progent worked together with the customer to quickly identify and assign priority to the key elements that had to be restored to make it possible to resume company functions:

  • Active Directory (AD)
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Accounting/MRP
To get going, Progent followed Anti-virus event mitigation best practices by halting lateral movement and removing active viruses. Progent then began the process of bringing back online Active Directory, the key technology of enterprise networks built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Exchange email will not operate without Active Directory, and the client's accounting and MRP applications used SQL Server, which depends on Active Directory services for authentication to the database.

In less than 2 days, Progent was able to restore Active Directory services to its pre-intrusion state. Progent then charged ahead with rebuilding and hard drive recovery of mission critical applications. All Exchange Server ties and configuration information were intact, which greatly helped the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was also able to locate intact OST data files (Outlook Email Offline Data Files) on user desktop computers to recover mail data. A not too old off-line backup of the businesses accounting/ERP systems made them able to return these vital programs back servicing users. Although a lot of work remained to recover fully from the Ryuk event, essential services were restored quickly:


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

Over the following few weeks important milestones in the restoration process were achieved in close collaboration between Progent engineers and the client:

  • Self-hosted web sites were restored without losing any information.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server with over four million archived emails was brought online and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoicing/AP/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory modules were 100% recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was set up.
  • Most of the user desktops were being used by staff.

"So much of what occurred during the initial response is nearly entirely a haze for me, but I will not soon forget the commitment each of your team accomplished to give us our company back. Iíve trusted Progent for the past 10 years, maybe more, and every time I needed help Progent has come through and delivered as promised. This event was the most impressive ever."

Conclusion
A potential company-ending disaster was dodged with dedicated professionals, a broad array of subject matter expertise, and tight collaboration. Although in post mortem the ransomware virus incident described here should have been blocked with current cyber security systems and recognized best practices, team training, and appropriate security procedures for information protection and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the reality is that state-sponsored cyber criminals from China, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and represent an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a crypto-ransomware virus, feel confident that Progent's team of experts has proven experience in ransomware virus blocking, mitigation, and information systems restoration.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen and Tony (and any others who were contributing), thanks very much for making it so I could get some sleep after we made it over the initial fire. All of you did an impressive effort, and if anyone that helped is in the Chicago area, a great meal is my treat!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent can provide companies in Irvine a variety of remote monitoring and security evaluation services designed to help you to minimize your vulnerability to ransomware. These services incorporate next-generation machine learning capability to detect new variants of crypto-ransomware that can escape detection by traditional signature-based security products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) is an endpoint protection service that utilizes cutting edge behavior-based analysis tools to defend physical and virtual endpoint devices against modern malware attacks such as ransomware and file-less exploits, which routinely evade traditional signature-matching AV products. ProSight Active Security Monitoring safeguards on-premises and cloud-based resources and provides a single platform to automate the entire threat lifecycle including filtering, identification, mitigation, remediation, and post-attack forensics. Key capabilities include one-click rollback using Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and automatic system-wide immunization against new threats. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware defense.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Physical and Virtual Endpoint Protection and Exchange Email Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) services deliver ultra-affordable in-depth protection for physical servers and VMs, workstations, smartphones, and Exchange email. ProSight ESP uses adaptive security and advanced machine learning for continuously monitoring and responding to cyber assaults from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP offers firewall protection, intrusion alarms, device management, and web filtering via cutting-edge technologies incorporated within a single agent accessible from a single console. Progent's security and virtualization experts can assist your business to plan and implement a ProSight ESP deployment that meets your organization's unique needs and that allows you achieve and demonstrate compliance with legal and industry data protection regulations. Progent will help you specify and implement security policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your network and respond to alarms that call for immediate attention. Progent's consultants can also assist you to set up and test a backup and disaster recovery system like ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can recover rapidly from a potentially disastrous security attack like ransomware. Find out 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 offer small and medium-sized organizations a low cost end-to-end solution for reliable backup/disaster recovery. Available at a fixed monthly cost, ProSight Data Protection Services automates and monitors your backup processes and enables rapid restoration of critical data, apps and virtual machines that have become unavailable or corrupted as a result of hardware breakdowns, software bugs, disasters, human error, or malware attacks such as 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. Critical data can be protected on the cloud, to a local device, or mirrored to both. Progent's backup and recovery consultants can provide advanced support to configure ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with government and industry regulatory requirements like HIPAA, FIRPA, and PCI and, when needed, can help you to recover your critical data. Read more about ProSight Data Protection Services Managed 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 vendors to provide centralized management and comprehensive protection for your email traffic. The powerful structure of Progent's Email Guard integrates a Cloud Protection Layer with a local gateway appliance to provide advanced defense against spam, viruses, Dos Attacks, DHAs, and other email-borne threats. Email Guard's Cloud Protection Layer acts as a preliminary barricade and blocks most unwanted email from making it to your network firewall. This reduces your exposure to external attacks and saves network bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's onsite gateway appliance adds a further layer of analysis for inbound email. For outbound email, the on-premises gateway provides AV and anti-spam protection, DLP, and email encryption. The on-premises security gateway can also help Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard internal email traffic that originates and ends 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
    ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure monitoring and management service that makes it simple and affordable for smaller businesses to map, track, reconfigure and debug their connectivity appliances such as routers, firewalls, and wireless controllers as well as servers, client computers and other devices. Using state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management technology, ProSight WAN Watch ensures that infrastructure topology diagrams are always updated, captures and manages the configuration information of virtually all devices connected to your network, tracks performance, and generates notices when potential issues are discovered. By automating tedious network management activities, WAN Watch can knock hours off common chores such as network mapping, expanding your network, locating appliances that need important updates, or resolving performance bottlenecks. Learn more about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management services.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Remote Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop monitoring managed service that incorporates state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management techniques to keep your network operating at peak levels by tracking the state of vital assets that power your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch detects a problem, an alarm is sent immediately to your designated IT management staff and your Progent consultant so that all looming problems can be addressed before they have a chance to disrupt productivity. Learn more details about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted Virtual Machines 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 high-performance virtual host configured and maintained by Progent's IT support experts. With the ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the client owns the data, the OS platforms, and the apps. Because the environment is virtualized, it can be moved easily to a different hosting environment without a time-consuming and difficult reinstallation procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not tied one hosting provider. Learn 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, update, retrieve and protect information related to your network infrastructure, procedures, business apps, and services. You can instantly find passwords or IP addresses and be alerted about impending expirations of SSL certificates or domains. By updating and organizing your network documentation, you can save as much as 50% of time thrown away looking for critical information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a common location for holding and collaborating on all documents related to managing your business network such as standard operating procedures and self-service instructions. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports a high level of automation for gathering and relating IT data. Whether youíre planning improvements, performing regular maintenance, or reacting to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management gets you the knowledge you need the instant you need it. Find out more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Irvine 24-7 CryptoLocker Repair Services, reach out to Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.