Crypto-Ransomware : Your Worst Information Technology Catastrophe
Ransomware  Remediation ConsultantsRansomware has become a modern cyberplague that presents an enterprise-level danger for organizations poorly prepared for an attack. Versions of crypto-ransomware like the Dharma, Fusob, Bad Rabbit, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been around for a long time and still cause harm. Recent versions of ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, Snatch or Nephilim, along with additional as yet unnamed viruses, not only encrypt online files but also infiltrate most configured system restores and backups. Data synchronized to cloud environments can also be rendered useless. In a vulnerable system, this can render automatic restoration impossible and effectively sets the entire system back to zero.

Getting back on-line applications and data following a crypto-ransomware intrusion becomes a sprint against time as the targeted organization tries its best to stop the spread and cleanup the virus and to resume enterprise-critical operations. Because ransomware takes time to replicate, penetrations are often launched during weekends and nights, when successful penetrations are likely to take longer to notice. This compounds the difficulty of promptly marshalling and organizing a qualified mitigation team.

Progent has a range of support services for protecting enterprises from ransomware attacks. These include staff education to help identify and not fall victim to phishing exploits, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, along with deployment of modern security gateways with artificial intelligence capabilities to automatically detect and extinguish zero-day threats. Progent in addition offers the assistance of seasoned ransomware recovery engineers with the skills and perseverance to rebuild a compromised network as urgently as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Help
Subsequent to a ransomware event, even paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not guarantee that distant criminals will return the needed keys to unencrypt any or all of your files. Kaspersky Labs ascertained that seventeen percent of ransomware victims never restored their information even after having paid the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The gamble is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well higher than the typical ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be approximately $13,000. The fallback is to piece back together the vital parts of your Information Technology environment. Without the availability of complete system backups, this requires a wide complement of skills, top notch team management, and the capability to work 24x7 until the job is finished.

For twenty years, Progent has made available certified expert IT services for companies in Norfolk and throughout the US and has achieved Microsoft's Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts includes consultants who have been awarded high-level industry certifications in leading technologies such as Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security specialists have garnered internationally-renowned certifications including CISM, CISSP-ISSAP, CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise with accounting and ERP software solutions. This breadth of expertise gives Progent the capability to rapidly identify necessary systems and organize the surviving parts of your Information Technology system after a crypto-ransomware attack and configure them into a functioning network.

Progent's ransomware team of experts utilizes state-of-the-art project management tools to orchestrate the complicated recovery process. Progent appreciates the urgency of acting rapidly and in unison with a customerís management and IT staff to assign priority to tasks and to put key services back online as soon as possible.

Business Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Intrusion Response
A client escalated to Progent after their organization was attacked by the Ryuk ransomware virus. Ryuk is thought to have been developed by North Korean government sponsored criminal gangs, possibly using strategies leaked from the U.S. NSA organization. Ryuk seeks specific organizations with limited room for operational disruption and is among the most lucrative incarnations of ransomware viruses. High publicized targets include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a single-location manufacturing company based 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 backups had been directly accessible at the beginning of the intrusion and were damaged. The client was taking steps for paying the ransom (exceeding $200K) and hoping for the best, but ultimately called Progent.


"I cannot tell you enough about the expertise Progent gave us throughout the most fearful period of (our) businesses life. We had little choice but to pay the cybercriminals if not for the confidence the Progent team gave us. The fact that you could get our e-mail system and production applications back online faster than seven days was earth shattering. Each consultant I worked with or messaged at Progent was totally committed on getting us working again and was working non-stop to bail us out."

Progent worked with the customer to quickly get our arms around and prioritize the key services that had to be recovered in order to restart company operations:

  • Active Directory (AD)
  • E-Mail
  • MRP System
To begin, Progent adhered to ransomware incident mitigation best practices by halting lateral movement and cleaning systems of viruses. Progent then initiated the process of rebuilding Active Directory, the heart of enterprise systems built on Microsoft Windows technology. Microsoft Exchange Server messaging will not function without AD, and the client's MRP system used Microsoft SQL Server, which needs Windows AD for security authorization to the information.

Within two days, Progent was able to re-build Windows Active Directory to its pre-penetration state. Progent then initiated reinstallations and storage recovery of needed servers. All Exchange ties and attributes were usable, which accelerated the restore of Exchange. Progent was able to assemble intact OST files (Outlook Off-Line Data Files) on various desktop computers in order to recover mail information. A recent offline backup of the businesses financials/MRP systems made them able to recover these required applications back online for users. Although significant work still had to be done to recover totally from the Ryuk damage, core systems were returned to operations rapidly:


"For the most part, the production operation did not miss a beat and we made all customer shipments."

During the next couple of weeks important milestones in the recovery process were made through tight cooperation between Progent engineers and the client:

  • Self-hosted web sites were restored without losing any information.
  • The MailStore Exchange Server exceeding four million archived emails was brought on-line and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoices/Accounts Payable/AR/Inventory modules were fully recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 firewall was installed.
  • Most of the desktops and laptops were being used by staff.

"A huge amount of what went on in the initial days is nearly entirely a fog for me, but my management will not forget the commitment each of your team accomplished to give us our company back. Iíve been working with Progent for the past 10 years, maybe more, and every time I needed help Progent has impressed me and delivered. This situation was a testament to your capabilities."

Conclusion
A possible business extinction disaster was evaded with hard-working professionals, a broad range of technical expertise, and close collaboration. Although upon completion of forensics the crypto-ransomware penetration described here could have been disabled with up-to-date cyber security technology solutions and ISO/IEC 27001 best practices, team training, and well designed security procedures for data protection and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the reality is that state-sponsored hackers from China, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and are an ongoing threat. If you do get hit by a ransomware attack, feel confident that Progent's roster of professionals has proven experience in ransomware virus blocking, mitigation, and data recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen and Tony (along with others who were helping), Iím grateful for allowing me to get some sleep after we got past the initial fire. All of you did an impressive effort, and if anyone is around the Chicago area, a great meal is on me!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent offers businesses in Norfolk a portfolio of remote monitoring and security evaluation services to help you to minimize your vulnerability to crypto-ransomware. These services include modern AI technology to detect zero-day strains of ransomware that are able to escape detection by legacy signature-based security solutions.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection solution that incorporates cutting edge behavior-based analysis tools to defend physical and virtual endpoints against new malware attacks like ransomware and file-less exploits, which easily evade traditional signature-matching AV products. ProSight Active Security Monitoring protects on-premises and cloud-based resources and provides a unified platform to manage the entire threat lifecycle including blocking, detection, mitigation, remediation, and forensics. Top capabilities include single-click rollback using Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service and real-time network-wide immunization against newly discovered attacks. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Physical and Virtual Endpoint Security and Microsoft Exchange Email Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) services deliver affordable in-depth protection for physical servers and VMs, workstations, smartphones, and Exchange email. ProSight ESP utilizes contextual security and advanced heuristics for continuously monitoring and reacting to security assaults from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP offers firewall protection, penetration alerts, device management, and web filtering via cutting-edge technologies packaged within one agent accessible from a unified console. Progent's security and virtualization consultants can assist you to design and configure a ProSight ESP environment that meets your organization's specific requirements and that allows you prove compliance with government and industry information security standards. Progent will assist you specify and implement policies that ProSight ESP will manage, and Progent will monitor your network and respond to alerts that require urgent attention. Progent's consultants can also help your company to install and test a backup and restore system such as ProSight Data Protection Services so you can recover quickly from a destructive cyber attack such as ransomware. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified endpoint security and Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services from Progent offer small and medium-sized organizations an affordable and fully managed service for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). For a low monthly rate, ProSight DPS automates your backup processes and allows fast recovery of vital files, applications and VMs that have become lost or damaged due to hardware breakdowns, software glitches, natural disasters, human error, or malicious attacks such as ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you back up, retrieve and restore files, folders, applications, system images, as well as Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Critical data can be backed up on the cloud, to a local device, or to both. Progent's cloud backup specialists can deliver advanced expertise to set up ProSight Data Protection Services to be compliant with government and industry regulatory standards such as HIPAA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever needed, can assist you to recover your business-critical information. Learn more about ProSight Data Protection Services Managed Backup.

  • 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 technology of top information security companies to deliver web-based management and world-class security for all your email traffic. The powerful structure of Progent's Email Guard integrates cloud-based filtering with a local security gateway appliance to offer complete protection against spam, viruses, Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks, and other email-borne malware. Email Guard's Cloud Protection Layer acts as a preliminary barricade and keeps most threats from reaching your security perimeter. This decreases your exposure to external threats and saves network bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's on-premises security gateway device adds a deeper layer of analysis for inbound email. For outgoing email, the local gateway provides anti-virus and anti-spam filtering, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The onsite gateway can also assist Exchange Server to track and protect internal email traffic that originates and ends within your security perimeter. For more details, see ProSight Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Infrastructure Remote Monitoring and Management
    ProSight WAN Watch is a network infrastructure management service that makes it simple and inexpensive for small and mid-sized organizations to map out, track, enhance and debug their connectivity appliances like routers and switches, firewalls, and access points plus servers, printers, client computers and other networked devices. Incorporating state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management technology, WAN Watch ensures that infrastructure topology maps are always current, captures and displays the configuration information of virtually all devices connected to your network, tracks performance, and generates alerts when potential issues are detected. By automating time-consuming management activities, ProSight WAN Watch can cut hours off ordinary chores such as network mapping, expanding your network, finding devices that need important updates, or isolating performance bottlenecks. Learn more details about ProSight WAN Watch network infrastructure management services.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Remote Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop remote monitoring service that uses state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management techniques to help keep your network operating at peak levels by tracking the health of critical computers that drive your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers an issue, an alert is sent automatically to your specified IT management staff and your assigned Progent consultant so any looming issues can be resolved before they can impact productivity. Find out more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted Virtual Machines at Progent's World-class Data Center
    With ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size organization can have its critical servers and applications hosted in a secure Tier III data center on a high-performance virtual machine host configured and maintained by Progent's network support experts. Under the ProSight Virtual Hosting service model, the client retains ownership of the data, the OS software, and the apps. Since the environment is virtualized, it can be moved easily to an alternate hardware solution without a lengthy and technically risky configuration procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not tied one hosting service. Find out more details about ProSight Virtual Hosting services.

  • ProSight IT Asset Management: Network Documentation Management
    ProSight IT Asset Management service is an IT infrastructure documentation management service that allows you to create, update, find and safeguard data about your IT infrastructure, procedures, business apps, and services. You can instantly find passwords or serial numbers and be warned about impending expirations of SSLs or warranties. By updating and organizing your IT documentation, you can eliminate as much as 50% of time thrown away looking for vital information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a common location for storing and sharing all documents related to managing your network infrastructure such as standard operating procedures (SOPs) and self-service instructions. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports advanced automation for gathering and relating IT information. Whether youíre planning enhancements, performing maintenance, or reacting to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the knowledge you need when you need it. Learn more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For 24-7 Norfolk Ransomware Removal Consulting, call Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.