Crypto-Ransomware : Your Crippling Information Technology Nightmare
Ransomware  Recovery ExpertsRansomware has become an escalating cyber pandemic that poses an enterprise-level threat for organizations unprepared for an attack. Versions of ransomware like the CryptoLocker, CryptoWall, Bad Rabbit, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been out in the wild for a long time and continue to inflict harm. More recent strains of crypto-ransomware such as Ryuk and Hermes, along with frequent as yet unnamed newcomers, not only do encryption of on-line files but also infect most configured system protection. Files synchronized to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be ransomed. In a poorly architected environment, it can render automatic restoration useless and effectively sets the network back to square one.

Getting back online services and data after a ransomware outage becomes a sprint against time as the victim tries its best to contain and clear the ransomware and to restore enterprise-critical activity. Since ransomware takes time to replicate, assaults are frequently launched during nights and weekends, when successful attacks in many cases take longer to recognize. This compounds the difficulty of promptly marshalling and orchestrating a capable response team.

Progent has an assortment of solutions for securing enterprises from ransomware events. These include user education to become familiar with and avoid phishing exploits, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, in addition to deployment of next-generation security appliances with artificial intelligence technology to intelligently detect and quarantine zero-day cyber threats. Progent in addition offers the services of experienced crypto-ransomware recovery engineers with the skills and perseverance to reconstruct a compromised system as soon as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Help
Following a crypto-ransomware attack, paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not guarantee that distant criminals will respond with the needed codes to unencrypt all your information. Kaspersky estimated that 17% of ransomware victims never restored their information even after having sent off the ransom, resulting in more losses. The risk is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well above the average ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be approximately $13,000. The alternative is to setup from scratch the critical parts of your Information Technology environment. Without the availability of full data backups, this calls for a broad range of skills, well-coordinated project management, and the willingness to work non-stop until the task is complete.

For twenty years, Progent has offered certified expert IT services for businesses in Albuquerque and across the US and has earned Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts includes consultants who have earned advanced certifications in key technologies such as Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security engineers have garnered internationally-recognized industry certifications including CISA, CISSP-ISSAP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise in financial management and ERP software solutions. This breadth of experience gives Progent the ability to efficiently ascertain necessary systems and re-organize the surviving pieces of your network environment following a crypto-ransomware penetration and assemble them into a functioning network.

Progent's security group uses powerful project management systems to coordinate the complicated restoration process. Progent understands the urgency of acting swiftly and in concert with a customerís management and Information Technology team members to assign priority to tasks and to get essential applications back on-line as soon as humanly possible.

Client Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Penetration Recovery
A small business hired Progent after their organization was penetrated by the Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is believed to have been created by North Korean state hackers, suspected of adopting technology leaked from Americaís NSA organization. Ryuk attacks specific organizations with little room for operational disruption and is one of the most lucrative examples of ransomware viruses. Headline organizations include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing company, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a single-location manufacturing company headquartered in the Chicago metro area and has about 500 employees. The Ryuk intrusion had disabled all essential operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's system backups had been directly accessible at the time of the attack and were destroyed. The client was pursuing financing for paying the ransom (more than $200K) and wishfully thinking for good luck, but in the end reached out to Progent.


"I cannot say enough in regards to the care Progent provided us during the most stressful period of (our) companyís survival. We may have had to pay the cybercriminals if it wasnít for the confidence the Progent group afforded us. That you could get our e-mail and production applications back on-line quicker than five days was incredible. Every single staff member I got help from or messaged at Progent was totally committed on getting our system up and was working 24/7 on our behalf."

Progent worked together with the customer to rapidly assess and prioritize the most important applications that needed to be addressed in order to continue departmental functions:

  • Windows Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • MRP System
To start, Progent adhered to ransomware incident mitigation best practices by halting lateral movement and clearing up compromised systems. Progent then began the steps of restoring Windows Active Directory, the foundation of enterprise environments built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Exchange email will not work without AD, and the client's accounting and MRP system utilized Microsoft SQL, which requires Windows AD for security authorization to the information.

In less than two days, Progent was able to restore Active Directory to its pre-penetration state. Progent then accomplished reinstallations and hard drive recovery of needed servers. All Exchange ties and attributes were usable, which accelerated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was also able to locate non-encrypted OST data files (Outlook Offline Folder Files) on staff desktop computers and laptops to recover email data. A not too old offline backup of the client's accounting/ERP systems made it possible to recover these essential applications back online for users. Although major work needed to be completed to recover completely from the Ryuk attack, the most important systems were returned to operations quickly:


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

During the following couple of weeks important milestones in the restoration project were completed through tight collaboration between Progent engineers and the customer:

  • In-house web applications were restored without losing any information.
  • The MailStore Server with over four million historical emails was brought online and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoicing/Accounts Payable (AP)/AR/Inventory Control functions were 100 percent restored.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 security appliance was set up.
  • Most of the desktops and laptops were fully operational.

"So much of what transpired that first week is nearly entirely a blur for me, but we will not forget the commitment each and every one of you put in to help get our company back. Iíve entrusted Progent for the past ten years, maybe more, and each time I needed help Progent has outperformed my expectations and delivered. This situation was the most impressive ever."

Conclusion
A probable company-ending catastrophe was dodged through the efforts of dedicated experts, a broad array of knowledge, and close collaboration. Although in hindsight the ransomware virus penetration detailed here should have been shut down with advanced cyber security technology and NIST Cybersecurity Framework or ISO/IEC 27001 best practices, user training, and properly executed security procedures for data protection and proper patching controls, the reality is that state-sponsored hackers from China, Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and are not going away. If you do fall victim to a ransomware incursion, remember that Progent's roster of professionals has substantial experience in ransomware virus defense, remediation, and information systems restoration.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Tony and Chris (along with others that were contributing), thank you for letting me get some sleep after we made it past the initial fire. Everyone did an amazing job, and if any of your guys is in the Chicago area, dinner is the least I can do!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent offers companies in Albuquerque a variety of online monitoring and security evaluation services designed to assist you to minimize your vulnerability to crypto-ransomware. These services incorporate next-generation AI capability to detect new variants of crypto-ransomware that can escape detection by 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 next generation behavior machine learning technology to defend physical and virtual endpoint devices against modern malware assaults like ransomware and file-less exploits, which routinely evade traditional signature-matching AV tools. ProSight Active Security Monitoring protects local and cloud-based resources and provides a unified platform to manage the complete threat lifecycle including blocking, identification, mitigation, remediation, and post-attack forensics. Key features include one-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service and automatic network-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: Endpoint Protection and Exchange Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection managed services deliver ultra-affordable multi-layer protection for physical and virtual servers, workstations, mobile devices, and Exchange Server. ProSight ESP uses adaptive security and advanced heuristics for continuously monitoring and reacting to security assaults from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP provides two-way firewall protection, intrusion alarms, device management, and web filtering via cutting-edge technologies packaged within one agent accessible from a single control. Progent's data protection and virtualization consultants can help you to design and implement a ProSight ESP deployment that meets your company's unique requirements and that helps you prove compliance with government and industry information security regulations. Progent will assist you define and configure security policies that ProSight ESP will manage, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and react to alarms that require immediate attention. Progent's consultants can also help your company to set up and verify a backup and restore system like ProSight Data Protection Services so you can get back in business rapidly from a potentially disastrous security attack such as ransomware. Read more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified endpoint security and Microsoft Exchange filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services offer small and medium-sized organizations an affordable and fully managed solution for reliable backup/disaster recovery. For a low monthly cost, ProSight Data Protection Services automates and monitors your backup processes and allows rapid restoration of vital files, apps and virtual machines that have become unavailable or corrupted 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, recover and restore files, folders, applications, system images, as well as Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Important data can be backed up on the cloud, to a local storage device, or to both. Progent's cloud backup consultants can provide world-class expertise to configure ProSight Data Protection Services to be compliant with regulatory requirements like HIPAA, FIRPA, 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 and email encryption service that uses the infrastructure of leading information security companies to provide web-based management and comprehensive security for all your inbound and outbound email. The powerful structure of Progent's Email Guard integrates cloud-based filtering with a local security gateway appliance to offer complete defense against spam, viruses, Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks (DHAs), and other email-borne threats. The Cloud Protection Layer acts as a first line of defense and blocks most unwanted email from reaching your network firewall. This reduces your vulnerability to inbound threats and saves network bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's onsite security gateway appliance provides a further layer of analysis for inbound email. For outbound email, the local gateway provides AV and anti-spam protection, policy-based Data Loss Prevention, and email encryption. The on-premises 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
    Progentís ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure monitoring and management service that makes it simple and affordable for small and mid-sized businesses to map out, track, enhance and debug their networking appliances such as routers, firewalls, and access points plus servers, printers, endpoints and other devices. Using state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, WAN Watch makes sure that network diagrams are always current, captures and displays the configuration of virtually all devices on your network, monitors performance, and generates notices when issues are discovered. By automating tedious management processes, ProSight WAN Watch can knock hours off ordinary chores such as network mapping, expanding your network, locating appliances that need critical updates, or resolving performance problems. Find out more about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management services.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop 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 techniques to help keep your network operating at peak levels by checking the state of vital computers that power your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch detects an issue, an alert is sent immediately to your specified IT personnel and your assigned Progent consultant so all potential problems can be resolved before they can impact productivity. Find out more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring consulting.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's World-class Data Center
    With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size business can have its critical servers and applications hosted in a protected Tier III data center on a high-performance virtual host set up and managed by Progent's network support professionals. Under Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service model, the client retains ownership of the data, the OS platforms, and the applications. Since the system is virtualized, it can be moved easily to a different hosting environment without requiring a time-consuming and technically risky configuration procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not locked into a single hosting provider. 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, retrieve and protect information related to your network infrastructure, processes, applications, and services. You can instantly locate passwords or IP addresses and be warned automatically about upcoming expirations of SSL certificates or warranties. By cleaning up and organizing your IT documentation, you can eliminate as much as half of time thrown away trying to find critical information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a common repository for holding and collaborating on all documents required for managing your network infrastructure like recommended procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports a high level of automation for gathering and associating IT information. Whether youíre making improvements, doing regular maintenance, or reacting to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management gets you the information you need when you need it. Read more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Albuquerque 24x7 Ransomware Recovery Experts, contact Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.