Crypto-Ransomware : Your Crippling Information Technology Disaster
Ransomware 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:
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.
- Active Directory (AD)
- Microsoft Exchange
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."
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.
For Irvine 24-7 CryptoLocker Repair Services, reach out to Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.
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- 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
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- 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
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