Ransomware : Your Feared Information Technology Catastrophe
Ransomware  Remediation ExpertsRansomware has become a too-frequent cyberplague that presents an enterprise-level danger for organizations vulnerable to an assault. Multiple generations of ransomware like the CryptoLocker, Fusob, Locky, Syskey and MongoLock cryptoworms have been around for years and still cause havoc. Newer variants of crypto-ransomware such as Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, Netwalker, Conti or Egregor, plus frequent as yet unnamed viruses, not only do encryption of on-line files but also infect many available system backups. Data replicated to cloud environments can also be ransomed. In a poorly designed environment, this can make any recovery useless and effectively knocks the network back to square one.

Getting back online applications and data after a ransomware event becomes a race against the clock as the targeted business fights to contain and cleanup the ransomware and to restore business-critical activity. Because ransomware needs time to replicate, assaults are usually sprung during nights and weekends, when attacks may take more time to recognize. This compounds the difficulty of rapidly marshalling and organizing a capable mitigation team.

Progent has a variety of solutions for securing organizations from ransomware events. These include staff training to help recognize and not fall victim to phishing exploits, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, plus setup and configuration of the latest generation security gateways with artificial intelligence technology to intelligently identify and extinguish new cyber threats. Progent in addition offers the assistance of expert crypto-ransomware recovery engineers with the track record and commitment to re-deploy a compromised system as soon as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Services
After a ransomware event, even paying the ransom demands in cryptocurrency does not provide any assurance that distant criminals will respond with the keys to decipher all your information. Kaspersky determined that 17% of ransomware victims never recovered their information even after having sent off the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The gamble is also costly. Ryuk ransoms often range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well above the usual ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be around $13,000. The alternative is to re-install the vital parts of your IT environment. Absent access to full information backups, this calls for a broad complement of skill sets, well-coordinated project management, and the ability to work 24x7 until the task is finished.

For two decades, Progent has offered expert IT services for businesses in Honolulu and throughout the US and has achieved Microsoft's Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts includes professionals who have earned top certifications in foundation technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security engineers have garnered internationally-renowned certifications including CISA, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise with financial systems and ERP software solutions. This breadth of expertise gives Progent the skills to rapidly ascertain critical systems and re-organize the surviving pieces of your network system following a crypto-ransomware penetration and assemble them into a functioning network.

Progent's ransomware team of experts uses top notch project management tools to coordinate the sophisticated recovery process. Progent appreciates the urgency of acting quickly and together with a client's management and Information Technology team members to assign priority to tasks and to get key applications back on line as fast as humanly possible.

Customer Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Virus Response
A small business hired Progent after their network system was penetrated by Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is thought to have been developed by North Korean state sponsored criminal gangs, suspected of using algorithms exposed from the United States National Security Agency. Ryuk targets specific companies with little tolerance for operational disruption and is one of the most profitable versions of ransomware viruses. High publicized targets include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a single-location manufacturer located in Chicago and has about 500 workers. The Ryuk event had paralyzed all essential operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's data protection had been on-line at the time of the intrusion and were damaged. The client was actively seeking loans for paying the ransom (exceeding two hundred thousand dollars) and hoping for good luck, but in the end called Progent.


"I canít thank you enough about the expertise Progent gave us throughout the most critical period of (our) businesses existence. We most likely would have paid the cybercriminals if it wasnít for the confidence the Progent team gave us. That you were able to get our e-mail and key servers back sooner than a week was amazing. Every single person I spoke to or communicated with at Progent was laser focused on getting us back online and was working day and night on our behalf."

Progent worked with the client to rapidly understand and prioritize the mission critical services that needed to be recovered in order to continue company functions:

  • Active Directory
  • E-Mail
  • Accounting and Manufacturing Software
To get going, Progent adhered to ransomware penetration mitigation industry best practices by isolating and cleaning systems of viruses. Progent then started the work of recovering Microsoft AD, the core of enterprise environments built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Microsoft Exchange Server messaging will not operate without Active Directory, and the customerís MRP software used Microsoft SQL Server, which depends on Active Directory for authentication to the database.

In less than two days, Progent was able to recover Windows Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then charged ahead with rebuilding and hard drive recovery of the most important servers. All Microsoft Exchange Server data and configuration information were usable, which accelerated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was able to assemble local OST data files (Outlook Offline Data Files) on user PCs and laptops to recover email information. A recent offline backup of the client's financials/ERP systems made it possible to restore these essential applications back online. Although major work remained to recover completely from the Ryuk event, the most important systems were returned to operations rapidly:


"For the most part, the assembly line operation never missed a beat and we made all customer orders."

Over the next few weeks key milestones in the restoration project were accomplished in tight collaboration between Progent engineers and the customer:

  • In-house web sites were returned to operation without losing any data.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server with over four million historical messages was brought on-line and available for users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoicing/Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory functions were fully operational.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 security appliance was set up and programmed.
  • Nearly all of the desktop computers were back into operation.

"So much of what was accomplished those first few days is nearly entirely a blur for me, but we will not soon forget the countless hours each and every one of your team accomplished to give us our company back. Iíve trusted Progent for the past 10 years, possibly more, and every time Progent has outperformed my expectations and delivered as promised. This time was the most impressive ever."

Conclusion
A likely business catastrophe was dodged with dedicated experts, a wide array of knowledge, and close teamwork. Although in hindsight the ransomware incident described here would have been prevented with advanced security technology solutions and security best practices, user training, and properly executed incident response procedures for information backup and proper patching controls, the reality is that state-sponsored criminal cyber gangs from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and will continue. If you do fall victim to a ransomware virus, remember that Progent's team of experts has proven experience in ransomware virus blocking, cleanup, and file restoration.


"So, to Darrin, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others who were involved), Iím grateful for letting me get rested after we got past the initial push. Everyone did an fabulous job, and if any of your guys is around the Chicago area, dinner is on me!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent offers businesses in Honolulu a range of online monitoring and security assessment services to assist you to reduce your vulnerability to crypto-ransomware. These services incorporate next-generation AI capability to uncover new variants of ransomware that are able to evade traditional signature-based anti-virus solutions.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection service that utilizes next generation behavior-based machine learning tools to guard physical and virtual endpoints against new malware assaults such as ransomware and file-less exploits, which routinely evade legacy signature-matching AV products. ProSight Active Security Monitoring safeguards on-premises and cloud-based resources and provides a single platform to automate the complete threat progression including filtering, infiltration detection, containment, remediation, and post-attack forensics. Top features include single-click rollback with Windows VSS and automatic system-wide immunization against newly discovered attacks. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware defense.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Physical and Virtual Endpoint Security and Exchange Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection managed services deliver affordable in-depth protection for physical servers and virtual machines, workstations, mobile devices, and Exchange Server. ProSight ESP uses adaptive security and advanced heuristics for continuously monitoring and reacting to cyber assaults from all vectors. ProSight ESP provides firewall protection, penetration alerts, endpoint management, and web filtering via cutting-edge tools packaged within a single agent accessible from a unified control. Progent's data protection and virtualization experts can assist your business to design and configure a ProSight ESP deployment that addresses your company's specific needs and that allows you achieve and demonstrate compliance with legal and industry information protection regulations. Progent will assist you define and implement policies that ProSight ESP will manage, and Progent will monitor your network and respond to alerts that call for immediate action. Progent's consultants can also assist your company to install and verify a backup and restore solution like ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can recover rapidly from a destructive security attack like ransomware. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified physical and virtual endpoint security and Exchange filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services provide small and mid-sized businesses an affordable and fully managed service for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). Available at a fixed monthly price, ProSight Data Protection Services automates your backup activities and enables rapid restoration of vital files, apps and virtual machines that have become unavailable or damaged as a result of hardware failures, software bugs, disasters, human error, or malware attacks like ransomware. ProSight DPS can help you protect, recover and restore files, folders, apps, system images, as well as Hyper-V and VMware images/. Critical data can be backed up on the cloud, to an on-promises device, or to both. Progent's backup and recovery specialists can deliver advanced expertise to configure ProSight DPS to be compliant with regulatory standards like HIPAA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, when needed, can assist you to restore your business-critical information. Learn more about ProSight DPS 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 service that uses the infrastructure of top data security vendors to provide web-based control and world-class protection for your inbound and outbound email. The hybrid architecture of Progent's Email Guard managed service integrates a Cloud Protection Layer with an on-premises gateway appliance to provide complete protection against spam, viruses, Dos Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks (DHAs), and other email-based malware. The Cloud Protection Layer serves as a preliminary barricade and keeps the vast majority of unwanted email from reaching your network firewall. This decreases your exposure to external threats and conserves network bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's on-premises security gateway appliance provides a further level of analysis for incoming email. For outgoing email, the on-premises gateway offers AV and anti-spam protection, policy-based Data Loss Prevention, and email encryption. The onsite security gateway can also help Microsoft Exchange Server to track and safeguard internal email traffic that stays within your security perimeter. For more information, visit Email Guard spam and content filtering.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Infrastructure Remote Monitoring and Management
    Progentís ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure management service that makes it easy and affordable for smaller businesses to map, track, reconfigure and troubleshoot their connectivity hardware such as routers, firewalls, and load balancers as well as servers, endpoints and other devices. Using cutting-edge Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, ProSight WAN Watch makes sure that network maps are kept updated, copies and displays the configuration of almost all devices connected to your network, monitors performance, and sends notices when issues are detected. By automating time-consuming management and troubleshooting processes, ProSight WAN Watch can cut hours off ordinary tasks such as making network diagrams, expanding your network, finding devices that need important updates, or resolving performance bottlenecks. Find out more about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure monitoring and management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop remote monitoring service that uses advanced remote monitoring and management techniques to keep your network operating efficiently by tracking the health of vital computers that drive your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch detects an issue, an alert is sent automatically to your specified IT management staff and your Progent engineering consultant so any potential issues can be resolved before they have a chance to disrupt productivity. Find out more details about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size business can have its key servers and applications hosted in a secure Tier III data center on a fast virtual host configured and maintained by Progent's IT support experts. Under Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the client retains ownership of the data, the operating system platforms, and the apps. Because the environment is virtualized, it can be ported easily to an alternate hardware solution without requiring a time-consuming and technically risky configuration 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 a cloud-based IT documentation management service that makes it easy to create, maintain, find and protect information about your network infrastructure, procedures, applications, and services. You can quickly find passwords or IP addresses and be warned automatically about upcoming expirations of SSLs or domains. By cleaning up and organizing your IT infrastructure documentation, you can save as much as 50% of time thrown away looking for vital information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a centralized location for storing and sharing all documents related to managing your network infrastructure like standard operating procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports a high level of automation for gathering and associating IT data. Whether youíre planning enhancements, doing maintenance, or responding to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the information you require when you need it. Find out more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Honolulu 24/7 Ransomware Recovery Consulting, reach out to Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.