Ransomware : Your Feared IT Catastrophe
Crypto-Ransomware  Remediation ExpertsCrypto-Ransomware has become an escalating cyber pandemic that presents an enterprise-level threat for businesses vulnerable to an attack. Different iterations of ransomware such as Dharma, CryptoWall, Bad Rabbit, Syskey and MongoLock cryptoworms have been circulating for years and still cause destruction. The latest variants of crypto-ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, Conti or Egregor, along with more unnamed malware, not only encrypt on-line critical data but also infiltrate most accessible system backup. Data replicated to cloud environments can also be corrupted. In a vulnerable system, it can render automated restoration impossible and effectively sets the network back to zero.

Getting back programs and information following a ransomware event becomes a race against the clock as the victim fights to stop the spread and remove the ransomware and to restore business-critical operations. Since crypto-ransomware takes time to move laterally, penetrations are usually sprung during nights and weekends, when attacks in many cases take longer to uncover. This compounds the difficulty of rapidly mobilizing and organizing a knowledgeable response team.

Progent offers a variety of solutions for securing businesses from ransomware attacks. These include user training to help recognize and not fall victim to phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, in addition to installation of the latest generation security gateways with AI technology to automatically discover and quarantine zero-day threats. Progent also can provide the services of veteran ransomware recovery consultants with the skills and perseverance to restore a breached network as soon as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Recovery Help
Soon after a ransomware attack, sending the ransom in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not ensure that distant criminals will provide the needed codes to unencrypt all your files. Kaspersky determined that 17% of ransomware victims never restored their files even after having sent off 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 significantly above the average crypto-ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be around $13,000. The other path is to re-install the essential parts of your Information Technology environment. Absent access to essential information backups, this calls for a wide range of skill sets, top notch project management, and the capability to work non-stop until the recovery project is finished.

For two decades, Progent has offered expert IT services for companies in Pleasanton and throughout the US and has earned Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts includes engineers who have been awarded top certifications in foundation technologies such as Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security experts have garnered internationally-renowned industry certifications including CISA, CISSP-ISSAP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent also has experience in financial management and ERP applications. This breadth of experience provides Progent the capability to rapidly understand necessary systems and organize the surviving components of your Information Technology system following a ransomware attack and rebuild them into a functioning network.

Progent's ransomware group has powerful project management systems to coordinate the sophisticated recovery process. Progent appreciates the urgency of acting quickly and in concert with a client's management and IT staff to assign priority to tasks and to put critical services back on line as soon as possible.

Client Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Penetration Recovery
A small business sought out Progent after their network system was taken over by the Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is thought to have been created by Northern Korean government sponsored criminal gangs, possibly adopting algorithms leaked from the United States National Security Agency. Ryuk targets specific businesses with limited ability to sustain operational disruption and is one of the most lucrative instances of ransomware malware. Major victims include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing company, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a small manufacturing business located in Chicago with around 500 employees. The Ryuk penetration had shut down all company operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's data protection had been directly accessible at the start of the attack and were encrypted. The client was evaluating paying the ransom demand (more than $200K) and wishfully thinking for good luck, but in the end reached out to Progent.


"I cannot tell you enough about the help Progent provided us during the most fearful period of (our) companyís existence. We had little choice but to pay the cyber criminals behind the attack if it wasnít for the confidence the Progent group afforded us. That you could get our e-mail system and production applications back into operation in less than seven days was incredible. Every single staff member I got help from or texted at Progent was laser focused on getting my company operational and was working at all hours to bail us out."

Progent worked hand in hand the customer to rapidly assess and prioritize the key elements that needed to be recovered in order to resume business operations:

  • Windows Active Directory
  • Electronic Mail
  • MRP System
To get going, Progent followed Anti-virus penetration response industry best practices by halting lateral movement and clearing up compromised systems. Progent then started the work of rebuilding Microsoft Active Directory, the key technology of enterprise systems built on Microsoft Windows technology. Exchange messaging will not operate without Windows AD, and the customerís accounting and MRP software leveraged SQL Server, which needs Windows AD for security authorization to the databases.

Within 48 hours, Progent was able to recover Windows Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then completed setup and hard drive recovery of mission critical servers. All Microsoft Exchange Server ties and configuration information were intact, which accelerated the restore of Exchange. Progent was also able to collect local OST data files (Outlook Offline Data Files) on user PCs and laptops in order to recover mail data. A recent off-line backup of the customerís manufacturing software made it possible to recover these required services back servicing users. Although a lot of work remained to recover completely from the Ryuk event, core services were returned to operations quickly:


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

During the next couple of weeks important milestones in the restoration process were achieved through tight collaboration between Progent team members and the customer:

  • In-house web applications were returned to operation without losing any data.
  • The MailStore Exchange Server containing more than 4 million archived emails was restored to operations and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoicing/Accounts Payable (AP)/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory Control functions were 100% functional.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was brought online.
  • Most of the desktops and laptops were operational.

"A huge amount of what went on that first week is nearly entirely a haze for me, but my team will not soon forget the commitment each and every one of you accomplished to help get our business back. I have trusted Progent for the past 10 years, maybe more, and every time I needed help Progent has come through and delivered as promised. This event was a life saver."

Conclusion
A possible company-ending catastrophe was averted with top-tier professionals, a wide array of subject matter expertise, and tight teamwork. Although in analyzing the event afterwards the ransomware virus attack described here could have been identified and blocked with current cyber security technology solutions and security best practices, staff education, and well thought out incident response procedures for data backup and applying software patches, the fact remains that state-sponsored hackers from China, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and are not going away. If you do fall victim to a ransomware virus, feel confident that Progent's roster of professionals has proven experience in ransomware virus blocking, cleanup, and file disaster recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (along with others who were helping), Iím grateful for letting me get rested after we made it through the first week. Everyone did an fabulous job, and if anyone that helped is in the Chicago area, a great meal is the least I can do!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent can provide businesses in Pleasanton a portfolio of online monitoring and security evaluation services designed to help you to reduce the threat from ransomware. These services include next-generation machine learning technology to detect new variants of crypto-ransomware that can 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 solution that incorporates next generation behavior analysis tools to guard physical and virtual endpoint devices against modern malware assaults such as ransomware and file-less exploits, which easily escape legacy signature-based anti-virus tools. ProSight Active Security Monitoring safeguards local and cloud resources and offers a unified platform to manage the entire malware attack progression including filtering, detection, mitigation, cleanup, and post-attack forensics. Top features include one-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and automatic network-wide immunization against new threats. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Physical and Virtual Endpoint Protection and Exchange Email Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection services offer economical in-depth security for physical and virtual servers, desktops, smartphones, and Exchange Server. ProSight ESP uses adaptive security and advanced heuristics for continuously monitoring and reacting to security threats from all vectors. ProSight ESP provides firewall protection, penetration alerts, endpoint management, and web filtering via leading-edge technologies incorporated within a single agent managed from a unified console. Progent's security and virtualization consultants can help you to design and configure a ProSight ESP deployment that addresses your company's specific requirements and that allows you prove compliance with legal and industry information security regulations. Progent will help you specify and implement security policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and respond to alarms that require immediate attention. Progent's consultants can also assist your company to install and test a backup and restore system such as ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can recover quickly from a potentially disastrous security attack like ransomware. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified physical and virtual endpoint security and Microsoft Exchange email 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 solution for secure backup/disaster recovery. Available at a low monthly cost, ProSight DPS automates your backup processes and enables rapid restoration of vital files, applications and VMs that have become unavailable or damaged due to component breakdowns, software glitches, natural disasters, human mistakes, or malware attacks like ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you back up, retrieve and restore files, folders, apps, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Important data can be backed up on the cloud, to an on-promises device, or mirrored to both. Progent's backup and recovery specialists can provide world-class support to set up ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with regulatory standards like HIPAA, FIRPA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever needed, can help you to restore your critical information. Learn 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 filtering and email encryption service that incorporates the infrastructure of leading data security companies to deliver web-based control and world-class protection for your inbound and outbound email. The powerful architecture of Email Guard managed service combines a Cloud Protection Layer with an on-premises gateway device to offer complete protection against spam, viruses, Dos Attacks, DHAs, and other email-based malware. The Cloud Protection Layer acts as a preliminary barricade and keeps the vast majority of unwanted email from reaching your security perimeter. This reduces your vulnerability to inbound attacks and conserves network bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's on-premises gateway device provides a further layer of analysis for inbound email. For outgoing email, the on-premises security gateway provides AV and anti-spam filtering, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The local gateway can also assist Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard internal email traffic that stays inside your security perimeter. For more details, visit Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Network Infrastructure Management
    ProSight WAN Watch is a network infrastructure monitoring and management service that makes it easy and affordable for smaller businesses to map out, track, reconfigure and debug their networking hardware such as routers, firewalls, and wireless controllers plus servers, printers, client computers and other devices. Using state-of-the-art RMM technology, WAN Watch makes sure that infrastructure topology maps are kept updated, copies and manages the configuration of virtually all devices on your network, tracks performance, and sends notices when issues are discovered. By automating tedious management and troubleshooting processes, WAN Watch can knock hours off ordinary chores such as network mapping, expanding your network, finding devices that need critical updates, or resolving performance bottlenecks. Find out more details about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop monitoring service that incorporates advanced remote monitoring and management (RMM) technology to keep your network operating efficiently by checking the state of vital assets that power your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch detects a problem, an alarm is transmitted immediately to your specified IT management personnel and your assigned Progent engineering consultant so all potential issues can be resolved before they have a chance to impact your network. Learn more details about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring consulting.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's World-class Data Center
    With ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small organization can have its critical servers and apps hosted in a protected Tier III data center on a high-performance virtual host configured and managed by Progent's network support professionals. Under Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the client owns the data, the OS platforms, and the apps. Since the environment is virtualized, it can be moved easily to an alternate hosting environment without requiring a lengthy and technically risky reinstallation procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not locked into one hosting service. Find out more 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 makes it easy to capture, maintain, retrieve and safeguard data about your network infrastructure, procedures, business apps, and services. You can instantly find passwords or serial numbers and be alerted about upcoming expirations of SSL certificates or domains. By updating and managing your network documentation, you can save as much as half of time wasted searching for critical information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a centralized location for storing and collaborating on all documents required for managing your network infrastructure such as standard operating procedures and self-service instructions. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports a high level of automation for collecting and relating IT information. Whether youíre planning improvements, doing maintenance, or reacting to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the information you require as soon as you need it. Learn more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For Pleasanton 24x7 Ransomware Cleanup Consulting, reach out to Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.