Crypto-Ransomware : Your Crippling IT Nightmare
Ransomware  Remediation ConsultantsCrypto-Ransomware has become an escalating cyber pandemic that represents an existential threat for organizations poorly prepared for an attack. Multiple generations of crypto-ransomware like the Dharma, WannaCry, Bad Rabbit, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been circulating for years and continue to cause damage. Modern strains of crypto-ransomware like Ryuk and Hermes, as well as daily unnamed malware, not only do encryption of on-line data files but also infiltrate all accessible system protection. Data synched to cloud environments can also be corrupted. In a poorly architected system, this can make automatic restoration useless and basically knocks the datacenter back to square one.

Retrieving services and information following a crypto-ransomware attack becomes a sprint against the clock as the targeted business struggles to contain and remove the ransomware and to resume mission-critical activity. Because crypto-ransomware takes time to move laterally, attacks are frequently sprung on weekends and holidays, when successful attacks tend to take longer to notice. This multiplies the difficulty of rapidly assembling and organizing a knowledgeable mitigation team.

Progent has a variety of support services for securing organizations from crypto-ransomware attacks. These include team education to become familiar with and avoid phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, in addition to setup and configuration of the latest generation security gateways with machine learning technology to automatically detect and quarantine new cyber attacks. Progent in addition offers the services of experienced crypto-ransomware recovery professionals with the skills and perseverance to restore a compromised environment as quickly as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Services
After a crypto-ransomware event, sending the ransom in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not guarantee that cyber criminals will provide the needed keys to decipher any of your information. Kaspersky Labs estimated that seventeen percent of crypto-ransomware victims never restored their files even after having sent off the ransom, resulting in more losses. The gamble is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms frequently range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly higher than the typical crypto-ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be in the range of $13,000. The fallback is to piece back together the critical components of your Information Technology environment. Without access to full data backups, this requires a broad range of skill sets, well-coordinated project management, and the ability to work 24x7 until the job is finished.

For two decades, Progent has made available certified expert Information Technology services for companies in Providence and across the U.S. and has achieved Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts includes engineers who have earned advanced industry certifications in foundation technologies like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's security consultants have earned internationally-renowned certifications including CISA, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise with financial systems and ERP applications. This breadth of experience provides Progent the ability to rapidly ascertain critical systems and integrate the surviving pieces of your IT system following a ransomware penetration and rebuild them into an operational system.

Progent's security team has state-of-the-art project management tools to coordinate the complicated recovery process. Progent understands the urgency of working rapidly and in unison with a customerís management and IT staff to prioritize tasks and to put essential applications back on-line as fast as possible.

Customer Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Intrusion Response
A business escalated to Progent after their network system was penetrated by Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been created by Northern Korean state cybercriminals, suspected of using strategies exposed from Americaís National Security Agency. Ryuk attacks specific businesses with limited room for operational disruption and is one of the most lucrative versions of ransomware viruses. High publicized targets include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a small manufacturer based in Chicago with around 500 workers. The Ryuk penetration had disabled all essential operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's system backups had been directly accessible at the beginning of the intrusion and were encrypted. The client was evaluating paying the ransom (more than two hundred thousand dollars) and praying for good luck, but in the end reached out to Progent.


"I cannot speak enough about the expertise Progent gave us throughout the most critical time of (our) businesses survival. We may have had to pay the cybercriminals except for the confidence the Progent team provided us. That you could get our e-mail and essential servers back online faster than a week was something I thought impossible. Every single consultant I got help from or messaged at Progent was absolutely committed on getting us back online and was working 24/7 to bail us out."

Progent worked hand in hand the customer to quickly identify and assign priority to the critical areas that had to be recovered to make it possible to restart departmental operations:

  • Windows Active Directory
  • Electronic Mail
  • Financials/MRP
To start, Progent adhered to Anti-virus penetration mitigation industry best practices by stopping the spread and performing virus removal steps. Progent then began the task of bringing back online Active Directory, the heart of enterprise systems built upon Microsoft Windows technology. Exchange messaging will not operate without AD, and the customerís MRP applications leveraged Microsoft SQL, which requires Active Directory services for access to the data.

In less than two days, Progent was able to rebuild Windows Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then charged ahead with rebuilding and storage recovery of mission critical systems. All Microsoft Exchange Server data and configuration information were usable, which facilitated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was also able to assemble local OST files (Outlook Off-Line Data Files) on staff PCs and laptops in order to recover mail messages. A recent off-line backup of the customerís accounting systems made them able to restore these vital applications back available to users. Although a lot of work needed to be completed to recover totally from the Ryuk damage, core systems were returned to operations quickly:


"For the most part, the manufacturing operation did not miss a beat and we produced all customer sales."

Over the next few weeks critical milestones in the recovery project were completed in tight collaboration between Progent engineers and the client:

  • Self-hosted web sites were brought back up without losing any information.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server exceeding 4 million archived messages was restored to operations and available for users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoicing/AP/AR/Inventory functions were fully recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 firewall was set up.
  • Nearly all of the user PCs were back into operation.

"A lot of what was accomplished that first week is mostly a blur for me, but I will not forget the countless hours all of you put in to help get our business back. Iíve entrusted Progent for at least 10 years, maybe more, and every time Progent has come through and delivered. This situation was no exception but maybe more Herculean."

Conclusion
A potential enterprise-killing catastrophe was evaded through the efforts of top-tier professionals, a wide range of technical expertise, and close collaboration. Although in post mortem the crypto-ransomware virus incident detailed here should have been disabled with up-to-date security systems and recognized best practices, staff training, and well thought out security procedures for data backup and applying software patches, the fact remains that government-sponsored cybercriminals from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and are not going away. If you do get hit by a ransomware attack, remember that Progent's roster of experts has extensive experience in crypto-ransomware virus defense, remediation, and file recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others who were involved), Iím grateful for letting me get some sleep after we made it over the most critical parts. All of you did an fabulous job, and if any of your team is around the Chicago area, dinner is on me!"

To review or download a PDF version of this customer story, click:
Progent's Ransomware Incident Recovery Case Study Datasheet. (PDF - 282 KB)

Additional Crypto-Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent offers companies in Providence a range of online monitoring and security evaluation services to assist you to minimize your vulnerability to crypto-ransomware. These services include modern artificial intelligence capability to detect zero-day strains of ransomware that can evade traditional signature-based anti-virus products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) is an endpoint protection (EPP) service that utilizes 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-based anti-virus products. ProSight Active Security Monitoring safeguards on-premises and cloud-based resources and offers a single platform to automate the entire threat progression including blocking, identification, containment, remediation, and forensics. Top capabilities include single-click rollback using Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service and automatic system-wide immunization against new threats. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Endpoint Protection and Exchange Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) services offer affordable multi-layer security for physical and virtual servers, desktops, smartphones, and Exchange email. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and modern behavior analysis for continuously monitoring and reacting to cyber threats from all vectors. ProSight ESP offers firewall protection, intrusion alerts, device control, and web filtering via cutting-edge tools packaged within one agent accessible from a single control. Progent's security and virtualization experts can assist you to design and implement a ProSight ESP environment that addresses your company's specific needs and that allows you achieve and demonstrate compliance with legal and industry data security regulations. Progent will assist you specify and configure policies that ProSight ESP will manage, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and respond to alerts that call for urgent action. Progent can also assist your company to install and test a backup and disaster recovery system like ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can recover rapidly from a destructive cyber attack such as ransomware. Read more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified endpoint security and Microsoft Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services from Progent offer small and mid-sized organizations an affordable and fully managed service for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). Available at a low monthly price, ProSight DPS automates your backup processes and enables fast recovery of critical data, apps and VMs that have become lost or damaged due to hardware breakdowns, software glitches, disasters, human error, or malicious attacks such as ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you protect, recover and restore files, folders, applications, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware images/. Important data can be protected on the cloud, to an on-promises storage device, or to both. Progent's BDR consultants can deliver advanced support to set up ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with government and industry regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, FIRPA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever necessary, can assist you to restore your critical data. Read more about ProSight DPS Managed Cloud 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 leading data security vendors to provide web-based management and comprehensive security for all your email traffic. The powerful architecture of Email Guard integrates a Cloud Protection Layer with an on-premises gateway device to provide complete protection against spam, viruses, Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks (DHAs), and other email-borne threats. Email Guard's Cloud Protection Layer acts as a preliminary barricade and blocks the vast majority of threats from reaching your security perimeter. This reduces your vulnerability to external threats and saves system bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's on-premises security gateway appliance adds a deeper layer of inspection for incoming email. For outgoing email, the on-premises security gateway offers anti-virus and anti-spam protection, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The onsite gateway can also assist Microsoft Exchange Server to track and safeguard internal email traffic that stays within your security perimeter. For more information, see Email Guard spam and content filtering.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Network Infrastructure Management
    ProSight WAN Watch is a network infrastructure management service that makes it easy and affordable for small and mid-sized organizations to map, monitor, reconfigure and troubleshoot their networking hardware such as switches, firewalls, and load balancers plus servers, client computers and other networked devices. Using state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, ProSight WAN Watch ensures that infrastructure topology diagrams are always updated, captures and manages the configuration information of virtually all devices connected to your network, tracks performance, and sends notices when problems are detected. By automating complex network management processes, WAN Watch can knock hours off ordinary tasks such as making network diagrams, expanding your network, finding appliances that need critical software patches, or resolving performance bottlenecks. Learn more details about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Remote Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop remote monitoring service that incorporates state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management (RMM) technology to help keep your IT system operating efficiently by checking the state of critical computers that drive your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers an issue, an alarm is sent immediately to your specified IT management personnel and your assigned Progent engineering consultant so that all looming issues 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 Virtual Machines at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size organization can have its critical servers and apps hosted in a secure Tier III data center on a fast virtual host configured and maintained by Progent's IT support professionals. Under the ProSight Virtual Hosting service model, the client retains ownership of the data, the OS software, and the applications. Because the system is virtualized, it can be ported easily to a different hosting environment without requiring a lengthy and technically risky configuration 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
    Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service is an IT infrastructure documentation management service that allows you to create, update, find and protect data about your network infrastructure, procedures, applications, and services. You can quickly locate passwords or serial numbers and be alerted about impending expirations of SSLs or warranties. By updating and organizing your IT documentation, you can eliminate up to half of time spent searching for critical information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a centralized repository for storing and collaborating on all documents required for managing your business network such as standard operating procedures and self-service instructions. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports advanced automation for gathering and associating IT data. Whether youíre planning improvements, doing maintenance, or responding to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management gets you the knowledge you require as soon as you need it. Find out more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Providence 24-7 Crypto Repair Services, reach out to Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.