Ransomware : Your Feared Information Technology Nightmare
Crypto-Ransomware  Remediation ConsultantsCrypto-Ransomware has become an escalating cyber pandemic that poses an extinction-level danger for organizations unprepared for an attack. Different versions of ransomware such as CryptoLocker, Fusob, Locky, Syskey and MongoLock cryptoworms have been replicating for many years and still inflict damage. Modern versions of crypto-ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, Snatch and Nephilim, plus additional unnamed malware, not only encrypt online data files but also infiltrate most configured system protection mechanisms. Files synchronized to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be encrypted. In a poorly architected data protection solution, it can make any restoration hopeless and basically sets the entire system back to square one.

Getting back applications and information after a ransomware attack becomes a sprint against the clock as the victim fights to stop lateral movement and clear the virus and to restore mission-critical operations. Due to the fact that ransomware requires time to move laterally, assaults are frequently sprung at night, when penetrations may take longer to discover. This multiplies the difficulty of promptly mobilizing and organizing an experienced response team.

Progent has a range of help services for protecting enterprises from ransomware events. Among these are staff training to help recognize and not fall victim to phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for endpoint detection and response (EDR) using SentinelOne's AI-based threat protection to identify and disable zero-day modern malware assaults. Progent in addition can provide the services of expert ransomware recovery engineers with the skills and perseverance to reconstruct a breached network as quickly as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Restoration Help
Subsequent to a crypto-ransomware event, even paying the ransom in cryptocurrency does not ensure that merciless criminals will respond with the needed codes to decrypt all your files. Kaspersky Labs estimated that 17% of crypto-ransomware victims never recovered their files after having sent off the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The gamble is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly above the usual ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be in the range of $13,000 for smaller businesses. The fallback is to setup from scratch the critical components of your Information Technology environment. Without access to complete data backups, this calls for a wide complement of skills, well-coordinated project management, and the willingness to work non-stop until the recovery project is over.

For twenty years, Progent has provided expert Information Technology services for companies throughout the U.S. and has earned Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes professionals who have earned high-level certifications in foundation technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's security experts have earned internationally-renowned certifications including CISM, CISSP, CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise in accounting and ERP application software. This breadth of experience gives Progent the skills to rapidly ascertain critical systems and organize the surviving pieces of your Information Technology environment after a crypto-ransomware attack and assemble them into an operational network.

Progent's security team of experts utilizes top notch project management systems to coordinate the complicated restoration process. Progent understands the importance of working quickly and together with a customer's management and Information Technology team members to assign priority to tasks and to get critical systems back on-line as fast as possible.

Customer Story: A Successful Ransomware Incident Recovery
A client sought out Progent after their company was taken over by the Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is believed to have been launched by North Korean state criminal gangs, possibly adopting strategies leaked from America's National Security Agency. Ryuk attacks specific companies with little room for disruption and is among the most lucrative versions of ransomware. High publicized targets include Data Resolution, a California-based data warehousing and cloud computing company, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a small manufacturing business headquartered in the Chicago metro area with around 500 staff members. The Ryuk penetration had brought down all business operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's data backups had been directly accessible at the start of the intrusion and were destroyed. The client was actively seeking loans for paying the ransom demand (more than two hundred thousand dollars) and wishfully thinking for the best, but ultimately made the decision to use Progent.

"I can't thank you enough about the expertise Progent provided us during the most fearful time of (our) company's existence. We had little choice but to pay the cyber criminals if it wasn't for the confidence the Progent team afforded us. The fact that you were able to get our e-mail system and essential servers back into operation sooner than 1 week was amazing. Every single person I talked with or e-mailed at Progent was absolutely committed on getting our system up and was working at all hours on our behalf."

Progent worked hand in hand the customer to rapidly get our arms around and prioritize the most important services that needed to be addressed in order to continue company functions:

  • Windows Active Directory
  • E-Mail
  • Financials/MRP
To get going, Progent followed Anti-virus penetration mitigation industry best practices by halting lateral movement and cleaning up infected systems. Progent then started the task of rebuilding Microsoft AD, the foundation of enterprise systems built on Microsoft technology. Microsoft Exchange messaging will not function without AD, and the customer's MRP system utilized Microsoft SQL Server, which depends on Active Directory for access to the databases.

Within two days, Progent was able to rebuild Active Directory services to its pre-virus state. Progent then completed rebuilding and storage recovery on essential systems. All Microsoft Exchange Server ties and configuration information were usable, which facilitated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was able to locate local OST files (Microsoft Outlook Offline Data Files) on user desktop computers in order to recover email messages. A recent offline backup of the customer's financials/MRP software made it possible to restore these required programs back online. Although a large amount of work was left to recover totally from the Ryuk attack, critical systems were returned to operations quickly:

"For the most part, the manufacturing operation was never shut down and we did not miss any customer deliverables."

During the following couple of weeks key milestones in the recovery process were accomplished through tight cooperation between Progent consultants and the customer:

  • In-house web sites were brought back up without losing any information.
  • The MailStore Server exceeding 4 million archived messages was restored to operations and available for users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoices/Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory Control functions were fully functional.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was brought on-line.
  • Ninety percent of the desktops and laptops were being used by staff.

"A lot of what was accomplished those first few days is mostly a blur for me, but my management will not soon forget the dedication each of you put in to give us our company back. I have been working together with Progent for the past ten years, maybe more, and every time I needed help Progent has come through and delivered as promised. This time was a stunning achievement."

A likely business catastrophe was dodged with top-tier experts, a wide array of subject matter expertise, and tight teamwork. Although in hindsight the crypto-ransomware virus penetration detailed here should have been identified and disabled with advanced cyber security technology solutions and NIST Cybersecurity Framework best practices, team training, and well thought out security procedures for information backup and proper patching controls, the fact is that state-sponsored cybercriminals from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and will continue. If you do fall victim to a crypto-ransomware virus, remember that Progent's roster of experts has substantial experience in ransomware virus blocking, cleanup, and information systems disaster recovery.

"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen and Chris (and any others who were helping), thank you for allowing me to get rested after we got over the initial push. Everyone did an incredible job, and if any of your team is in the Chicago area, a great meal is on me!"

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

Contact Progent for Crypto-Ransomware Recovery Expertise
For 24x7x365 crypto-ransomware recovery expertise, reach out to Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.

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