Ransomware : Your Worst IT Nightmare
Crypto-Ransomware  Recovery ConsultantsCrypto-Ransomware has become a too-frequent cyber pandemic that represents an enterprise-level danger for businesses vulnerable to an attack. Different iterations of ransomware such as Dharma, WannaCry, Bad Rabbit, Syskey and MongoLock cryptoworms have been around for years and continue to inflict destruction. Newer variants of ransomware such as Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, Conti or Egregor, along with frequent unnamed viruses, not only do encryption of online information but also infect any accessible system protection mechanisms. Information synched to the cloud can also be encrypted. In a vulnerable system, this can render automated recovery impossible and effectively knocks the datacenter back to square one.

Getting back online applications and information following a ransomware outage becomes a race against the clock as the targeted organization tries its best to stop lateral movement and eradicate the virus and to restore mission-critical operations. Due to the fact that ransomware requires time to move laterally, attacks are often sprung during nights and weekends, when successful penetrations in many cases take more time to notice. This multiplies the difficulty of promptly mobilizing and organizing a capable mitigation team.

Progent provides an assortment of support services for securing organizations from ransomware events. Among these are team training to help recognize and avoid phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, plus installation of next-generation security gateways with artificial intelligence capabilities to automatically identify and suppress new cyber attacks. Progent also provides the assistance of experienced crypto-ransomware recovery professionals with the track record and perseverance to restore a breached environment as quickly as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Restoration Support Services
Soon after a ransomware penetration, paying the ransom demands in cryptocurrency does not provide any assurance that cyber criminals will return the keys to unencrypt any or all of your files. Kaspersky Labs determined that 17% of ransomware victims never recovered their information after having sent off the ransom, resulting in increased losses. The gamble is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well above the average ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be approximately $13,000. The alternative is to re-install the essential components of your IT environment. Absent the availability of complete information backups, this requires a wide range of skill sets, professional project management, and the ability to work 24x7 until the job is finished.

For twenty years, Progent has made available certified expert IT services for companies in Knoxville and across the United States and has earned Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts includes professionals who have earned high-level industry certifications in foundation technologies such as Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's security specialists have earned internationally-renowned industry certifications including CISM, CISSP-ISSAP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (Refer to Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has experience in financial systems and ERP application software. This breadth of expertise gives Progent the ability to rapidly identify critical systems and re-organize the surviving pieces of your IT environment following a ransomware penetration and rebuild them into an operational network.

Progent's recovery group deploys top notch project management tools to orchestrate the complex recovery process. Progent appreciates the importance of acting rapidly and in unison with a client's management and Information Technology team members to assign priority to tasks and to get the most important applications back online as soon as humanly possible.

Customer Story: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Virus Response
A business hired Progent after their company was taken over by the Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been deployed by Northern Korean government sponsored cybercriminals, suspected of using algorithms leaked from the U.S. National Security Agency. Ryuk targets specific companies with limited tolerance for operational disruption and is among the most lucrative instances of crypto-ransomware. High publicized targets include Data Resolution, a California-based information warehousing and cloud computing company, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a single-location manufacturing company located in the Chicago metro area with around 500 staff members. The Ryuk intrusion had shut down all essential operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's backups had been on-line at the beginning of the attack and were destroyed. The client was actively seeking loans for paying the ransom (more than two hundred thousand dollars) and hoping for the best, but in the end made the decision to use Progent.


"I canít say enough about the expertise Progent provided us throughout the most stressful time of (our) businesses survival. We most likely would have paid the hackers behind this attack if not for the confidence the Progent experts provided us. That you were able to get our e-mail system and key applications back online sooner than 1 week was something I thought impossible. Every single expert I interacted with or e-mailed at Progent was hell bent on getting our system up and was working at all hours on our behalf."

Progent worked hand in hand the client to rapidly get our arms around and assign priority to the most important areas that needed to be addressed to make it possible to resume company functions:

  • Microsoft Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Accounting/MRP
To start, Progent followed AV/Malware Processes penetration response industry best practices by halting the spread and cleaning systems of viruses. Progent then started the process of bringing back online Active Directory, the foundation of enterprise networks built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Microsoft Exchange Server email will not operate without Active Directory, and the client's accounting and MRP applications leveraged Microsoft SQL, which depends on Active Directory for access to the databases.

In less than 48 hours, Progent was able to recover Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then performed setup and hard drive recovery of the most important applications. All Exchange data and attributes were usable, which greatly helped the restore of Exchange. Progent was able to collect non-encrypted OST files (Microsoft Outlook Offline Folder Files) on various desktop computers and laptops in order to recover mail data. A not too old offline backup of the businesses accounting/ERP software made them able to restore these essential programs back servicing users. Although significant work still had to be done to recover fully from the Ryuk damage, critical services were restored rapidly:


"For the most part, the manufacturing operation showed little impact and we did not miss any customer deliverables."

Throughout the following few weeks important milestones in the recovery project were accomplished in close cooperation between Progent engineers and the client:

  • In-house web applications were restored with no loss of information.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server containing more than 4 million historical emails was brought on-line and available for users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoicing/AP/Accounts Receivables/Inventory modules were completely restored.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 security appliance was brought on-line.
  • 90% of the user desktops and notebooks were functioning as before the incident.

"So much of what transpired during the initial response is nearly entirely a haze for me, but I will not soon forget the care each and every one of you accomplished to give us our company back. I have utilized Progent for the past 10 years, maybe more, and every time Progent has impressed me and delivered. This situation was no exception but maybe more Herculean."

Conclusion
A potential enterprise-killing disaster was averted through the efforts of hard-working professionals, a broad array of subject matter expertise, and tight teamwork. Although in post mortem the ransomware incident described here would have been identified and disabled with advanced security systems and recognized best practices, user and IT administrator training, and well thought out incident response procedures for backup and applying software patches, the fact remains that state-sponsored cybercriminals from China, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and are an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a ransomware attack, remember that Progent's team of experts has proven experience in ransomware virus blocking, cleanup, and information systems recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen and Tony (and any others who were involved), thanks very much for making it so I could get some sleep after we got past the most critical parts. Everyone did an incredible job, and if any of your team is in the Chicago area, dinner is on me!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent offers businesses in Knoxville a range of online monitoring and security evaluation services designed to assist you to reduce the threat from crypto-ransomware. These services incorporate next-generation AI capability to detect zero-day strains of crypto-ransomware that can get past legacy signature-based security solutions.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) is an endpoint protection solution that utilizes next generation behavior-based machine learning technology to guard physical and virtual endpoint devices against new malware assaults such as ransomware and email phishing, which easily get by legacy signature-based anti-virus products. ProSight ASM safeguards on-premises and cloud resources and provides a single platform to automate the complete threat lifecycle including blocking, infiltration detection, containment, remediation, and forensics. Key capabilities include single-click rollback using Windows VSS and real-time network-wide immunization against newly discovered threats. Read more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware defense.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Physical and Virtual Endpoint Protection and Microsoft Exchange Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) services offer ultra-affordable multi-layer security for physical and virtual servers, desktops, smartphones, and Exchange email. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and advanced machine learning for continuously monitoring and responding to security threats from all vectors. ProSight ESP delivers firewall protection, intrusion alarms, endpoint management, and web filtering via leading-edge tools incorporated within one agent managed from a single control. Progent's security and virtualization consultants can assist you to design and implement a ProSight ESP environment that addresses your organization's specific needs and that allows you prove compliance with legal and industry data security regulations. Progent will help you specify and implement policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your network and react to alarms that require urgent attention. Progent can also assist your company to install and verify a backup and restore solution such as ProSight Data Protection Services so you can recover quickly from a destructive security attack like ransomware. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified endpoint security and Microsoft Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services from Progent provide small and mid-sized organizations an affordable end-to-end solution for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). For a low monthly cost, ProSight Data Protection Services automates and monitors your backup processes and enables fast restoration of critical data, apps and VMs that have become lost or damaged as a result of component breakdowns, software glitches, natural disasters, human mistakes, or malicious attacks like ransomware. ProSight DPS can help you protect, recover and restore files, folders, applications, system images, as well as Hyper-V and VMware images/. Important data can be protected on the cloud, to a local device, or mirrored to both. Progent's BDR consultants can provide world-class support to configure ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with government and industry regulatory standards like HIPAA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever necessary, can assist you to recover your business-critical data. Learn 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 and email encryption service that incorporates the technology of leading information security companies to provide web-based management and comprehensive protection for all your inbound and outbound email. The powerful structure of Email Guard integrates a Cloud Protection Layer with a local gateway device to offer advanced defense against spam, viruses, Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks, and other email-borne threats. The cloud filter serves as a preliminary barricade and blocks the vast majority of unwanted email from reaching your security perimeter. This reduces your exposure to external threats and conserves system bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's on-premises security gateway appliance adds a deeper layer of analysis for incoming email. For outgoing email, the local gateway offers AV and anti-spam filtering, DLP, and email encryption. The on-premises security gateway can also help Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard internal email that originates and ends within your corporate firewall. For more details, visit ProSight Email Guard spam and content filtering.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Network Infrastructure Management
    Progentís ProSight WAN Watch is a network infrastructure management service that makes it easy and inexpensive for smaller businesses to diagram, track, optimize and debug their networking hardware like routers, firewalls, and load balancers as well as servers, client computers and other networked devices. Using cutting-edge Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, WAN Watch makes sure that infrastructure topology maps are always updated, copies and displays the configuration information of virtually all devices on your network, monitors performance, and sends notices when issues are detected. By automating complex management activities, WAN Watch can cut hours off common chores like network mapping, reconfiguring your network, finding devices that need critical updates, or resolving performance problems. Find out more about ProSight WAN Watch network infrastructure monitoring and management services.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Remote Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop remote monitoring managed service that uses advanced remote monitoring and management techniques to help keep your IT system running efficiently by tracking the state of critical computers that power your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch detects a problem, an alarm is sent automatically to your designated IT management staff and your assigned Progent consultant so all looming problems can be resolved before they can impact productivity. Learn more details about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop monitoring consulting.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size organization can have its key servers and apps hosted in a protected fault tolerant data center on a high-performance virtual host configured and managed by Progent's network support experts. With the ProSight Virtual Hosting service model, the customer retains ownership of the data, the operating system software, and the apps. Because the system is virtualized, it can be moved easily to a different hardware solution without requiring a time-consuming and difficult reinstallation process. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not locked into a single hosting service. Find out more details about ProSight Virtual Hosting services.

  • ProSight IT Asset Management: Network Documentation Management
    Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service is an IT infrastructure documentation management service that allows you to create, update, find and safeguard information related to your network infrastructure, procedures, business apps, and services. You can instantly locate passwords or serial numbers and be warned about upcoming expirations of SSLs or domains. By updating and managing your IT infrastructure documentation, you can save as much as 50% of time thrown away searching for critical information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a common repository for holding and collaborating on all documents related to managing your network infrastructure like standard operating procedures and self-service instructions. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports a high level of automation for collecting and relating IT information. Whether youíre planning improvements, performing regular maintenance, or responding to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management gets you the data you need when you need it. Find out more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Knoxville 24/7 Crypto-Ransomware Cleanup Consulting, reach out to Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.