Ransomware : Your Crippling Information Technology Nightmare
Crypto-Ransomware  Remediation ProfessionalsRansomware has become an escalating cyber pandemic that represents an extinction-level threat for businesses poorly prepared for an assault. Multiple generations of ransomware like the Dharma, Fusob, Locky, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been circulating for years and still cause damage. Recent versions of ransomware such as Ryuk and Hermes, along with frequent as yet unnamed malware, not only encrypt online critical data but also infiltrate all available system backup. Files replicated to the cloud can also be rendered useless. In a poorly designed system, this can make automated restore operations hopeless and basically knocks the datacenter back to zero.

Recovering applications and data following a crypto-ransomware outage becomes a sprint against the clock as the victim tries its best to contain and eradicate the virus and to restore business-critical operations. Since ransomware needs time to replicate, attacks are often sprung during nights and weekends, when attacks typically take longer to notice. This compounds the difficulty of promptly mobilizing and orchestrating an experienced response team.

Progent offers a variety of services for protecting organizations from crypto-ransomware attacks. These include staff training to help identify and avoid phishing exploits, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, in addition to installation of the latest generation security solutions with machine learning technology to automatically detect and quarantine day-zero cyber threats. Progent in addition can provide the services of veteran ransomware recovery professionals with the skills and commitment to rebuild a breached environment as soon as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Services
Following a ransomware event, even paying the ransom in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not ensure that distant criminals will provide the keys to unencrypt any or all of your information. Kaspersky Labs ascertained that seventeen percent of crypto-ransomware victims never restored their files even after having sent off the ransom, resulting in increased losses. The gamble is also costly. Ryuk ransoms often range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly higher than the typical ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined 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 range of IT skills, top notch project management, and the capability to work non-stop until the recovery project is finished.

For two decades, Progent has offered certified expert IT services for businesses in Mesa and throughout the United States and has earned Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes engineers who have been awarded advanced industry certifications in foundation technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's security consultants have earned internationally-recognized industry certifications including CISA, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (Refer to Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise with financial management and ERP software solutions. This breadth of experience gives Progent the capability to knowledgably identify critical systems and consolidate the remaining pieces of your network environment following a ransomware attack and rebuild them into a functioning system.

Progent's recovery team of experts uses best of breed project management systems to coordinate the complex recovery process. Progent knows the urgency of working quickly and together with a customerís management and IT team members to prioritize tasks and to get essential applications back online as soon as humanly possible.

Case Study: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Virus Recovery
A customer sought out Progent after their network system was attacked by Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been deployed by North Korean state sponsored cybercriminals, possibly adopting technology leaked from the United States National Security Agency. Ryuk targets specific organizations with little ability to sustain disruption and is one of the most lucrative incarnations of ransomware. Major victims include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing company, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a regional manufacturing business headquartered in Chicago with around 500 staff members. The Ryuk penetration had paralyzed all essential operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's system backups had been online at the time of the intrusion and were destroyed. The client considered paying the ransom demand (more than $200,000) and hoping for the best, but ultimately utilized Progent.


"I canít thank you enough in regards to the help Progent provided us throughout the most critical period of (our) businesses life. We may have had to pay the cyber criminals behind the attack if not for the confidence the Progent team afforded us. The fact that you were able to get our messaging and important servers back quicker than a week was incredible. Every single staff member I talked with or messaged at Progent was totally committed on getting my company operational and was working all day and night on our behalf."

Progent worked hand in hand the customer to quickly identify and assign priority to the key systems that needed to be restored in order to resume business operations:

  • Microsoft Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Financials/MRP
To begin, Progent adhered to Anti-virus incident mitigation best practices by halting the spread and cleaning up infected systems. Progent then initiated the steps of rebuilding Microsoft AD, the core of enterprise systems built on Microsoft technology. Microsoft Exchange messaging will not operate without AD, and the customerís financials and MRP software leveraged Microsoft SQL Server, which requires Active Directory for access to the information.

In less than 48 hours, Progent was able to re-build Active Directory services to its pre-penetration state. Progent then initiated setup and hard drive recovery on the most important servers. All Exchange Server schema and attributes were usable, which facilitated the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to collect local OST data files (Outlook Email Offline Data Files) on user PCs to recover email data. A recent off-line backup of the businesses accounting/ERP software made it possible to restore these essential services back on-line. Although a large amount of work needed to be completed to recover fully from the Ryuk event, core systems were returned to operations rapidly:


"For the most part, the production line operation survived unscathed and we produced all customer shipments."

Throughout the following couple of weeks important milestones in the restoration process were achieved through close collaboration between Progent engineers and the customer:

  • In-house web applications were returned to operation without losing any information.
  • The MailStore Server exceeding four million archived messages was spun up and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoices/Accounts Payable (AP)/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory Control functions were 100% recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 firewall was brought on-line.
  • Nearly all of the user workstations were back into operation.

"A huge amount of what occurred during the initial response is nearly entirely a fog for me, but I will not soon forget the commitment all of your team put in to give us our business back. Iíve utilized Progent for the past 10 years, possibly more, and every time I needed help Progent has impressed me and delivered as promised. This event was a life saver."

Conclusion
A possible business extinction catastrophe was averted with hard-working professionals, a wide array of knowledge, and tight teamwork. Although upon completion of forensics the ransomware attack detailed here could have been identified and disabled with up-to-date cyber security technology solutions and security best practices, team training, and appropriate security procedures for data protection and proper patching controls, the reality remains that government-sponsored criminal cyber gangs from Russia, China and elsewhere are tireless and are an ongoing threat. If you do fall victim to a ransomware incursion, remember that Progent's roster of professionals has substantial experience in crypto-ransomware virus blocking, cleanup, and data recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Tony and Chris (and any others that were involved), thanks very much for allowing me to get some sleep after we made it over the most critical parts. Everyone did an amazing effort, and if any of your guys is around 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 Recovery Case Study Datasheet. (PDF - 282 KB)

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent offers businesses in Mesa a variety of online monitoring and security assessment services designed to help you to reduce the threat from crypto-ransomware. These services utilize modern artificial intelligence technology to detect new strains of crypto-ransomware that can evade traditional signature-based anti-virus products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection (EPP) solution that incorporates cutting edge behavior machine learning tools to defend physical and virtual endpoint devices against modern malware attacks like ransomware and email phishing, which easily get by traditional signature-matching anti-virus products. ProSight Active Security Monitoring protects local and cloud resources and provides a single platform to manage the complete threat lifecycle including filtering, infiltration detection, containment, remediation, and forensics. Top features include single-click rollback using Windows VSS and real-time system-wide immunization against newly discovered threats. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) endpoint protection and ransomware defense.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Physical and Virtual Endpoint Security and Exchange Email Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection services offer affordable multi-layer security for physical servers and virtual machines, workstations, smartphones, and Microsoft Exchange. ProSight ESP utilizes adaptive security and advanced heuristics for continuously monitoring and reacting to security threats from all vectors. ProSight ESP offers two-way firewall protection, intrusion alarms, endpoint management, and web filtering through cutting-edge tools packaged within one agent managed from a unified control. Progent's security and virtualization experts can help your business to design and implement a ProSight ESP environment that addresses your organization's specific requirements and that allows you demonstrate compliance with government and industry information protection standards. Progent will help you define and implement policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and respond to alerts that call for urgent action. Progent's consultants can also assist your company to install and verify a backup and disaster recovery system like ProSight Data Protection Services so you can recover rapidly from a destructive cyber attack such as ransomware. Read more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified physical and virtual endpoint protection and Microsoft Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services offer small and mid-sized businesses a low cost and fully managed service for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). Available at a fixed monthly rate, ProSight Data Protection Services automates your backup activities and allows rapid recovery of vital files, apps and VMs that have become lost or damaged due to hardware failures, software glitches, natural disasters, human error, or malware attacks such as ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you protect, retrieve and restore files, folders, applications, system images, plus Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Critical data can be backed up on the cloud, to an on-promises device, or to both. Progent's BDR consultants can provide world-class expertise to configure ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with government and industry regulatory standards such as HIPAA, FIRPA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever needed, can help you to recover your critical data. Learn more about ProSight Data Protection Services 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 vendors to deliver centralized management and world-class protection for your inbound and outbound email. The hybrid architecture of Email Guard managed service combines a Cloud Protection Layer with an on-premises security gateway appliance to provide advanced protection against spam, viruses, Denial of Service Attacks, DHAs, and other email-based malware. The Cloud Protection Layer serves as a first line of defense and blocks the vast majority of unwanted email from making it to your network firewall. This reduces your vulnerability to external threats and conserves system bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's onsite security gateway device provides a deeper layer of analysis for inbound email. For outgoing email, the local security gateway offers anti-virus and anti-spam protection, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The on-premises gateway can also help Exchange Server to track and safeguard internal email traffic that stays within your security perimeter. For more details, visit Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • 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, track, reconfigure and debug their connectivity appliances like routers, firewalls, and wireless controllers plus servers, printers, endpoints and other devices. Incorporating state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, WAN Watch ensures that infrastructure topology diagrams are always current, captures and manages the configuration information of virtually all devices on your network, monitors performance, and generates notices when issues are detected. By automating complex management processes, ProSight WAN Watch can knock hours off common tasks such as making network diagrams, expanding your network, finding appliances that need critical software patches, or identifying the cause of performance problems. Learn more about ProSight WAN Watch network 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 techniques to help keep your network operating at peak levels by checking the health of critical assets that drive your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers a problem, an alert is sent automatically to your specified IT management staff and your assigned Progent consultant so that all potential issues can be resolved before they have a chance to disrupt your network. 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 or mid-size organization can have its critical 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. Under Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the customer retains ownership of the data, the OS software, and the apps. Since the environment is virtualized, it can be moved immediately to a different hosting environment without requiring a time-consuming and difficult reinstallation process. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are 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 makes it easy to create, update, find and safeguard information related to your network infrastructure, procedures, business apps, and services. You can instantly locate passwords or IP addresses and be warned about impending expirations of SSL certificates ,domains or warranties. By updating and managing your network documentation, you can eliminate up to 50% of time spent looking for vital information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a centralized location for holding and sharing all documents related to managing your business network like standard operating procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also offers a high level of automation for gathering and relating IT data. Whether youíre making improvements, performing regular maintenance, or reacting to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management gets you the information you require the instant you need it. Learn more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Mesa 24-Hour CryptoLocker Remediation Consultants, reach out to Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.