Ransomware : Your Worst Information Technology Catastrophe
Ransomware  Remediation ProfessionalsRansomware has become a modern cyberplague that poses an extinction-level danger for businesses of all sizes vulnerable to an assault. Different iterations of ransomware like the Dharma, CryptoWall, Locky, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been around for years and continue to inflict havoc. More recent variants of ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, Snatch or Egregor, along with additional as yet unnamed malware, not only do encryption of on-line critical data but also infect all accessible system backups. Data synched to cloud environments can also be ransomed. In a vulnerable environment, this can render any restore operations hopeless and effectively knocks the entire system back to zero.

Getting back online programs and information following a ransomware event becomes a sprint against time as the targeted organization fights to contain and cleanup the ransomware and to restore enterprise-critical activity. Because crypto-ransomware takes time to spread, penetrations are frequently sprung during nights and weekends, when successful attacks are likely to take more time to uncover. This multiplies the difficulty of quickly mobilizing and organizing a qualified mitigation team.

Progent has a variety of support services for protecting businesses from ransomware penetrations. These include team member 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 next-generation security gateways with artificial intelligence capabilities to automatically detect and quarantine new cyber threats. Progent in addition can provide the services of seasoned ransomware recovery consultants with the track record and perseverance to restore a breached system as urgently as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Recovery Services
Following a ransomware event, paying the ransom in cryptocurrency does not ensure that merciless criminals will return the needed codes to decrypt any of your data. Kaspersky ascertained that 17% of ransomware victims never restored their files after having sent off the ransom, resulting in more losses. The risk is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms often range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well higher than the usual ransomware demands, which ZDNET averages to be in the range of $13,000. The other path is to setup from scratch the essential components of your IT environment. Absent the availability of complete system backups, this requires a broad complement of skills, top notch team management, and the willingness to work 24x7 until the recovery project is completed.

For decades, Progent has offered expert IT services for businesses in Lincoln and across the US and has achieved Microsoft's Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts includes consultants who have been awarded high-level certifications in leading technologies like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity consultants have earned internationally-renowned certifications including CISM, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (Refer to Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise in financial management and ERP applications. This breadth of expertise affords Progent the skills to rapidly determine necessary systems and integrate the remaining components of your Information Technology system after a ransomware penetration and configure them into an operational network.

Progent's ransomware team of experts uses powerful project management applications to orchestrate the complex restoration process. Progent appreciates the importance of acting rapidly and in concert with a customerís management and IT staff to prioritize tasks and to put the most important applications back on-line as fast as possible.

Client Case Study: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Attack Response
A client contacted Progent after their network was penetrated by the Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is believed to have been launched by Northern Korean state sponsored criminal gangs, possibly using technology leaked from the United States NSA organization. Ryuk attacks specific businesses with limited ability to sustain disruption and is one of the most profitable incarnations of crypto-ransomware. High publicized organizations include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a small manufacturer headquartered in Chicago with about 500 employees. The Ryuk event had frozen all essential operations and manufacturing processes. Most of the client's data protection had been directly accessible at the start of the intrusion and were damaged. The client was taking steps for paying the ransom demand (exceeding $200,000) and wishfully thinking for good luck, but ultimately called Progent.


"I canít say enough about the expertise Progent provided us during the most critical time of (our) companyís existence. We may have had to pay the hackers behind this attack if not for the confidence the Progent experts gave us. The fact that you could get our e-mail and critical applications back faster than one week was amazing. Each staff member I got help from or e-mailed at Progent was totally committed on getting my company operational and was working day and night on our behalf."

Progent worked hand in hand the client to rapidly determine and prioritize the essential applications that needed to be recovered to make it possible to restart business operations:

  • Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Accounting and Manufacturing Software
To begin, Progent followed AV/Malware Processes incident response industry best practices by isolating and clearing up compromised systems. Progent then started the steps of rebuilding Microsoft AD, the core of enterprise networks built on Microsoft Windows technology. Microsoft Exchange messaging will not operate without Active Directory, and the businessesí financials and MRP software utilized Microsoft SQL, which needs Active Directory services for security authorization to the data.

In less than 2 days, Progent was able to rebuild Active Directory services to its pre-attack state. Progent then accomplished rebuilding and storage recovery of critical servers. All Exchange Server ties and attributes were intact, which accelerated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was able to collect non-encrypted OST files (Outlook Email Off-Line Folder Files) on staff workstations and laptops to recover mail messages. A recent offline backup of the customerís financials/ERP systems made it possible to return these vital applications back available to users. Although major work still had to be done to recover fully from the Ryuk damage, essential services were recovered rapidly:


"For the most part, the production line operation was never shut down and we produced all customer shipments."

During the next couple of weeks critical milestones in the recovery project were achieved in tight collaboration between Progent engineers and the customer:

  • Self-hosted web applications were brought back up with no loss of information.
  • The MailStore Server exceeding 4 million archived messages was brought on-line and available for users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoices/AP/Accounts Receivables/Inventory capabilities were 100 percent recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 security appliance was brought on-line.
  • Nearly all of the desktop computers were being used by staff.

"A lot of what went on in the early hours is mostly a blur for me, but my management will not forget the countless hours each and every one of your team accomplished to give us our company back. I have trusted Progent for the past ten years, possibly more, and every time I needed help Progent has impressed me and delivered as promised. This situation was no exception but maybe more Herculean."

Conclusion
A likely enterprise-killing disaster was evaded through the efforts of hard-working professionals, a broad range of IT skills, and close collaboration. Although in analyzing the event afterwards the crypto-ransomware penetration detailed here could have been identified and disabled with up-to-date cyber security technology and ISO/IEC 27001 best practices, staff education, and properly executed incident response procedures for information backup and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the reality is that state-sponsored cyber criminals from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and will continue. If you do fall victim to a crypto-ransomware virus, remember that Progent's team of professionals has substantial experience in ransomware virus blocking, cleanup, and data recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen and Chris (along with others who were contributing), thank you for letting me get some sleep after we made it over the initial push. All of you did an incredible job, and if anyone is visiting the Chicago area, a great meal is the least I can do!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent can provide businesses in Lincoln a range of remote monitoring and security assessment services designed to assist you to reduce the threat from crypto-ransomware. These services incorporate modern artificial intelligence technology to uncover zero-day variants 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 is an endpoint protection (EPP) solution that utilizes cutting edge behavior-based machine learning technology to guard physical and virtual endpoint devices against modern malware assaults like ransomware and email phishing, which easily get by legacy signature-matching anti-virus products. ProSight ASM safeguards local and cloud-based resources and offers a single platform to address the complete threat lifecycle including filtering, identification, containment, remediation, and post-attack forensics. Top features include one-click rollback using Windows VSS and automatic network-wide immunization against new threats. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Endpoint Protection and Exchange Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) services deliver ultra-affordable multi-layer security for physical servers and virtual machines, desktops, smartphones, and Exchange email. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and modern behavior analysis for continuously monitoring and responding to security threats from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP provides firewall protection, penetration alarms, endpoint management, and web filtering via leading-edge tools incorporated within one agent accessible from a unified control. Progent's data protection and virtualization consultants can assist you to plan and configure a ProSight ESP environment that addresses your organization's unique needs and that helps you demonstrate compliance with government and industry data protection regulations. Progent will assist you specify and implement policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your network and react to alarms that call for urgent action. Progent's consultants can also assist you to install and test a backup and disaster recovery system like ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can get back in business quickly from a destructive security attack like ransomware. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified physical and virtual endpoint security and Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services offer small and medium-sized businesses an affordable and fully managed solution for secure backup/disaster recovery. For a low monthly rate, ProSight Data Protection Services automates your backup activities and enables rapid recovery of vital data, apps and VMs that have become lost or corrupted as a result of hardware failures, software bugs, disasters, human error, or malware attacks like ransomware. ProSight DPS can help you back up, retrieve and restore files, folders, applications, system images, as well as Hyper-V and VMware images/. Important data can be backed up on the cloud, to a local device, or to both. Progent's cloud backup specialists can deliver world-class expertise to set up ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with regulatory standards like HIPAA, FINRA, and PCI and, when needed, can assist you to recover your critical information. Find out more about ProSight DPS Managed Backup.

  • 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 uses the infrastructure of top data security companies to deliver centralized control and world-class protection for your email traffic. The powerful architecture of Email Guard managed service combines a Cloud Protection Layer with a local security gateway device to offer complete defense against spam, viruses, Dos Attacks, DHAs, and other email-borne threats. Email Guard's cloud filter serves as a first line of defense and keeps the vast majority of threats from making it to your security perimeter. This reduces your vulnerability to external threats and conserves system bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's on-premises security gateway appliance adds a deeper level of inspection for incoming email. For outbound email, the on-premises gateway offers anti-virus and anti-spam filtering, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The onsite gateway can also assist Microsoft Exchange Server to monitor and protect internal email traffic that originates and ends inside your corporate firewall. For more information, visit Email Guard spam and content filtering.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Infrastructure Management
    ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure monitoring and management service that makes it easy and inexpensive for smaller businesses to diagram, monitor, enhance and troubleshoot their networking appliances like routers and switches, firewalls, and load balancers as well as servers, printers, client computers and other networked devices. Incorporating state-of-the-art RMM technology, WAN Watch makes sure that infrastructure topology maps are always current, copies and manages the configuration of virtually all devices connected to your network, tracks performance, and generates alerts when potential issues are discovered. By automating time-consuming management and troubleshooting processes, ProSight WAN Watch can knock hours off ordinary chores like making network diagrams, reconfiguring your network, locating appliances that need critical software patches, or identifying the cause of performance issues. Learn more about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure monitoring and management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Remote Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop remote monitoring managed service that uses state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management technology to help keep your IT system running efficiently by tracking the health of vital assets that power your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch detects a problem, an alarm is sent automatically to your specified IT management staff and your Progent engineering consultant so any potential problems can be addressed before they have a chance to disrupt productivity. Learn more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size business can have its key servers and apps hosted in a protected Tier III data center on a high-performance virtual machine host set up and managed by Progent's network support experts. Under the ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the client retains ownership of the data, the operating system platforms, and the apps. Since the system is virtualized, it can be moved easily to a different hosting environment without a lengthy and difficult configuration procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not locked into one hosting provider. Find out more details 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 capture, update, retrieve and protect data related to your network infrastructure, processes, business apps, and services. You can instantly find passwords or IP addresses and be warned automatically about upcoming expirations of SSL certificates ,domains or warranties. By updating and managing your network documentation, you can save up to half of time wasted searching for vital information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a common location for storing 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 information. Whether youíre planning improvements, doing regular maintenance, or responding to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the information you require the instant you need it. Read more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Lincoln 24x7x365 Crypto Recovery Support Services, contact Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.