Ransomware: Your Worst IT Nightmare
Ransomware Recovery ConsultantsRansomware has become a modern cyberplague that poses an extinction-level threat for businesses unprepared for an attack. Versions of ransomware like the Dharma, WannaCry, Locky, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been around for years and continue to do damage. More recent strains of ransomware like Ryuk and Hermes, plus daily unnamed newcomers, not only encrypt online data but also infiltrate any accessible system restores and backups. Data synched to the cloud can also be corrupted. In a vulnerable environment, this can make automated recovery impossible and effectively knocks the datacenter back to square one.

Restoring services and data after a ransomware attack becomes a race against the clock as the victim struggles to contain and remove the virus and to restore business-critical operations. Because ransomware takes time to spread, assaults are often launched during weekends, when attacks may take longer to detect. This compounds the difficulty of promptly mobilizing and coordinating a qualified response team.

Progent offers a variety of services for protecting organizations from ransomware attacks. These include user training to recognize and avoid phishing exploits, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, plus deployment of modern security gateways with AI technology to identify and suppress zero-day threats. Progent also offers the services of experienced ransomware recovery consultants with the skills and commitment to rebuild a compromised network as quickly as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Recovery Services
After a ransomware attack, paying the ransom in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not guarantee that cyber criminals will provide the keys to decrypt all your data. Kaspersky estimated that 17% of ransomware victims never recovered their files after having paid the ransom. The gamble is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well above the average ransomware demand, which ZDNET estimates to be around $13,000. The alternative is to piece back together the vital components of your IT environment. Without the availability of full backups, this requires a broad range of expertise, well-coordinated project management, and the willingness to work 24x7 until the job is done.

Progent has provided professional IT services throughout the United States for two decades and has earned Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts (SBEs) includes consultants who have earned high-level certifications in foundation technologies including Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity experts have earned internationally-recognized certifications including CISA, CISM, CISSP-ISSAP, CRISC, and GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent also has expertise in financial management and ERP application software. This breadth of expertise gives Progent the ability to identify and consolidate the surviving pieces of your IT environment after a ransomware attack and rebuild them into a functioning system.

Progent's recovery team uses state-of-the-art project management tools to coordinate the complex recovery process and understands the importance of working quickly and in unison with a client's management and IT staff to prioritize tasks and to get essential services back on line as fast as possible.

Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Recovery
A client engaged Progent after their organization was attacked by Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is believed to have been launched by North Korean state hackers, possibly using technology leaked from the U.S. National Security Agency. Ryuk targets specific companies with little tolerance for disruption and is one of the most profitable versions of ransomware. Headline victims include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a manufacturer based in Chicago and has about 500 employees. The Ryuk attack had shut down all business operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's backups had been online at the time of the attack and were encrypted. The client considered paying the ransom (in excess of $200,000) and hoping for the best, but in the end called Progent.


"I cannot say enough about the support Progent gave us during the most critical time of (our) business life. We may have had to pay the Hacker if not for the confidence the Progent Team gave us. That you could get our e-mail and Servers back in less than 1 week was something incredible. Every single person I spoke to or e-mailed at Progent was hell bent on getting us operational and was working 24/7 on our behalf."

Progent worked with the client to identify and prioritize the key areas that needed to be addressed in order to restart business operations:

  • Active Directory
  • Email
  • Accounting/ERP
To start, Progent followed AV/Malware Processes best practices by isolating and cleaning up infected systems. Progent then began the task of recovering Active Directory, the heart of enterprise networks built on Microsoft technology. Exchange email will not operate without Active Directory, and the client's accounting and ERP software used Microsoft SQL, which depends on Active Directory for access to the database.

Within two days, Progent was able to restore Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then helped perform reinstallations and hard drive recovery on critical systems. All Exchange ties and attributes were intact, which facilitated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was also able to locate intact OST files (Outlook Offline Folder Files) on various workstations to recover email data. A recent offline backup of the client's accounting/ERP software made it possible to return these vital applications back online. Although significant work remained to recover fully from the Ryuk attack, core services were restored quickly:


"For the most part, the manufacturing operation never missed a beat and we did not miss any customer shipments."

Over the next few weeks important milestones in the recovery process were achieved through close cooperation between Progent and the client:

  • Internal web sites were brought back up with no loss of data.
  • The MailStore Server with over 4 million archived emails was spun up and working.
  • Orders/Invoices/AP/AR/BOM and inventory were 100% restored.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 Firewall was installed.
  • 90% of user workstations were operational.

"A lot of what happened that first week is mostly a blur for me, but we will not forget the countless hours each and everyone of you put in to give us our business back. I have been working with Progent for at least 10 years maybe more and every time, Progent has come through and delivered. This time was no exception but maybe more Herculean."

Conclusion
A potential business disaster was averted by hard work, a broad range of technical expertise, and close teamwork. Although in hindsight the ransomware attack described here could have been prevented with modern security technology, user training, and appropriate procedures for backup and applying software patches, the fact remains that government-sponsored cyber criminals from China, Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and are not going away. If you do fall victim to ransomware, remember that Progent's team has proven experience in ransomware virus removal and file recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others that were involved), thank you for allowing me to get some sleep after we got past the first week. All of you did an incredible job and if anyone is visiting the Chicago area, dinner is on me!"

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent offers a range of remote monitoring and security assessment services to help you minimize the threat from ransomware. These services include next-generation machine learning technology to detect new variants of ransomware that can escape detection by traditional signature-based anti-virus solutions.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM): Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Recovery
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) is an endpoint protection (EPP) solution that incorporates cutting edge behavior machine learning tools to defend endpoints as well as servers and VMs against modern malware attacks such as ransomware and email phishing, which easily evade legacy signature-matching anti-virus tools. ProSight ASM protects local and cloud-based resources and offers a unified platform to address the entire threat progression including protection, identification, mitigation, remediation, and forensics. Top capabilities include single-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service and automatic system-wide immunization against new attacks. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware defense.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Unified Physical and Virtual Endpoint Protection
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection managed services offer economical multi-layer security for physical servers and virtual machines, workstations, mobile devices, and Exchange Server. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and advanced machine learning for round-the-clock monitoring and reacting to security threats from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP delivers two-way firewall protection, penetration alerts, endpoint management, and web filtering via cutting-edge tools incorporated within a single agent accessible from a single control. Progent's data protection and virtualization experts can assist your business to design and configure a ProSight ESP environment that meets your company's unique requirements and that allows you achieve and demonstrate compliance with legal and industry data security regulations. Progent will assist you define and configure policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and respond to alarms that require immediate action. Progent's consultants 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 security attack such as ransomware. Read more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified physical and virtual endpoint security and Microsoft Exchange filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services offer small and mid-sized organizations an affordable end-to-end solution for reliable backup/disaster recovery. Available at a low monthly rate, ProSight DPS automates and monitors your backup activities and allows rapid recovery of vital files, applications and VMs that have become lost or corrupted as a result of hardware breakdowns, software glitches, disasters, human mistakes, or malware attacks like ransomware. ProSight DPS can help you back up, retrieve and restore files, folders, applications, system images, plus Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Critical data can be protected on the cloud, to a local storage device, or mirrored to both. Progent's cloud backup specialists can provide world-class support to configure ProSight Data Protection Services to comply with government and industry regulatory standards like HIPPA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever necessary, can assist you to recover your critical data. Read more about ProSight DPS Managed Backup.

  • The ProSight Ransomware Preparedness Report Service
    The ProSight Ransomware Preparedness Report is a low-cost service centered on a phone discussion with a Progent information assurance expert. The interview is intended to assess your organization's preparedness either to stop or recover rapidly from a ransomware attack. Progent will work with you directly to collect information concerning your existing AV defense and backup/recovery platform, and Progent will then produce a written Basic Security and Best Practices Report document describing how you can follow best practices to create a cost-effective security and backup system that meets your business needs. For more information, see Progent's ProSight Ransomware Preparedness Report Service.
Contact Progent for Ransomware Recovery Consulting and Remote Security Monitoring
For ransomware recovery or prevention expertise, call Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.

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