Ransomware : Your Crippling Information Technology Catastrophe
Ransomware  Remediation ProfessionalsRansomware has become a too-frequent cyber pandemic that presents an extinction-level danger for organizations unprepared for an assault. Versions of ransomware such as Dharma, WannaCry, Locky, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been out in the wild for a long time and still cause havoc. Modern strains of ransomware such as Ryuk and Hermes, as well as more as yet unnamed newcomers, not only do encryption of on-line information but also infect most configured system restores and backups. Data synched to cloud environments can also be ransomed. In a poorly architected system, it can make automated recovery useless and effectively sets the network back to square one.

Getting back services and information after a ransomware intrusion becomes a sprint against the clock as the targeted organization struggles to stop lateral movement and eradicate the ransomware and to restore mission-critical operations. Due to the fact that crypto-ransomware takes time to replicate, attacks are frequently launched during weekends and nights, when penetrations tend to take longer to recognize. This multiplies the difficulty of promptly mobilizing and organizing a knowledgeable mitigation team.

Progent offers a range of support services for securing organizations from ransomware attacks. These include team training to become familiar with and avoid phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, plus deployment of next-generation security gateways with AI capabilities to automatically identify and extinguish day-zero threats. Progent also can provide the assistance of expert ransomware recovery engineers with the track record and commitment to reconstruct a breached network as quickly as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Recovery Support Services
Subsequent to a ransomware attack, even paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not ensure that distant criminals will respond with the codes to decipher all your data. Kaspersky estimated that 17% of ransomware victims never recovered their files even after having paid the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The risk is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms frequently range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is significantly above the typical ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be in the range of $13,000. The alternative is to setup from scratch the essential parts of your IT environment. Absent access to essential information backups, this requires a broad range of skill sets, professional team management, and the willingness to work continuously until the task is completed.

For twenty years, Progent has provided certified expert Information Technology services for businesses in Fort Collins and across the US and has earned Microsoft's Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes consultants who have been awarded advanced industry certifications in important technologies like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and major distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security experts have garnered internationally-recognized certifications including CISA, CISSP-ISSAP, CRISC, and GIAC. (Refer to Progent's certifications). Progent also has experience in financial management and ERP applications. This breadth of experience gives Progent the capability to knowledgably identify critical systems and integrate the remaining pieces of your Information Technology environment after a ransomware attack and configure them into a functioning system.

Progent's recovery team of experts deploys best of breed project management systems to orchestrate the sophisticated restoration process. Progent appreciates the importance of acting swiftly and in concert with a client's management and Information Technology team members to prioritize tasks and to get essential applications back on-line as fast as humanly possible.

Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Incident Recovery
A business sought out Progent after their company was penetrated by the Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been developed by Northern Korean state sponsored cybercriminals, suspected of adopting technology leaked from the U.S. NSA organization. Ryuk goes after specific companies with limited room for operational disruption and is one of the most lucrative versions of crypto-ransomware. Well Known targets include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a single-location manufacturer based in the Chicago metro area and has about 500 staff members. The Ryuk event had brought down all essential operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's data protection had been on-line at the beginning of the intrusion and were damaged. The client was evaluating paying the ransom demand (in excess of two hundred thousand dollars) and praying for the best, but ultimately engaged Progent.


"I cannot say enough in regards to the care Progent gave us during the most fearful period of (our) companyís survival. We may have had to pay the cybercriminals if it wasnít for the confidence the Progent team afforded us. The fact that you were able to get our e-mail and critical servers back online faster than 1 week was something I thought impossible. Every single expert I talked with or messaged at Progent was absolutely committed on getting us restored and was working day and night on our behalf."

Progent worked hand in hand the client to quickly determine and prioritize the key applications that had to be restored to make it possible to continue business functions:

  • Windows Active Directory
  • Exchange Server
  • Accounting/MRP
To get going, Progent followed Anti-virus event response industry best practices by halting the spread and cleaning up infected systems. Progent then started the process of recovering Active Directory, the foundation of enterprise environments built upon Microsoft technology. Exchange messaging will not function without Windows AD, and the client's accounting and MRP applications utilized Microsoft SQL Server, which requires Active Directory services for access to the databases.

In less than 2 days, Progent was able to recover Active Directory to its pre-penetration state. Progent then completed reinstallations and storage recovery of needed systems. All Exchange Server schema and configuration information were intact, which accelerated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was also able to locate non-encrypted OST data files (Outlook Email Offline Data Files) on various desktop computers and laptops in order to recover mail information. A recent offline backup of the businesses manufacturing software made them able to return these required applications back online for users. Although a lot of work still had to be done to recover fully from the Ryuk event, essential services were returned to operations quickly:


"For the most part, the production manufacturing operation ran fairly normal throughout and we made all customer shipments."

Throughout the following month key milestones in the recovery project were made through close cooperation between Progent team members and the customer:

  • Internal web sites were brought back up with no loss of information.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server with over 4 million archived messages was brought on-line and available for users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoicing/Accounts Payable (AP)/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory functions were fully functional.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 security appliance was brought online.
  • Ninety percent of the user desktops and notebooks were operational.

"A lot of what transpired in the early hours is nearly entirely a blur for me, but my management will not soon forget the countless hours each of you accomplished to give us our business back. I have trusted Progent for the past ten years, possibly more, and every time I needed help Progent has come through and delivered. This time was the most impressive ever."

Conclusion
A likely enterprise-killing disaster was dodged through the efforts of results-oriented professionals, a wide spectrum of knowledge, and close teamwork. Although in retrospect the crypto-ransomware virus penetration described here should have been disabled with modern security solutions and NIST Cybersecurity Framework best practices, staff training, and properly executed incident response procedures for data backup and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the fact is that government-sponsored cyber criminals from China, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and will continue. If you do fall victim to a ransomware virus, remember that Progent's team of experts has extensive experience in crypto-ransomware virus defense, cleanup, and file restoration.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen and Tony (and any others who were contributing), thank you for making it so I could get some sleep after we got past the initial fire. Everyone did an incredible effort, and if anyone that helped is in the Chicago area, a great meal is on me!"

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

Additional Crypto-Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent offers businesses in Fort Collins a portfolio of online monitoring and security evaluation services to help you to reduce the threat from ransomware. These services include modern machine learning capability to uncover zero-day variants of ransomware that are able to get past traditional signature-based security products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection solution that utilizes next generation behavior analysis tools to defend physical and virtual endpoints against new malware assaults like ransomware and email phishing, which easily evade traditional signature-based AV tools. ProSight ASM protects local and cloud resources and offers a unified platform to automate the complete malware attack lifecycle including blocking, detection, mitigation, remediation, and forensics. Top capabilities include single-click rollback with Windows VSS and real-time network-wide immunization against newly discovered threats. Read more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Physical and Virtual Endpoint Security and Exchange Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) managed services offer affordable multi-layer protection for physical servers and VMs, desktops, smartphones, and Exchange email. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and advanced heuristics for round-the-clock monitoring and reacting to cyber assaults from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP provides two-way firewall protection, penetration alarms, endpoint control, and web filtering via cutting-edge technologies packaged within a single agent accessible from a unified control. Progent's data protection and virtualization consultants can help your business to design and configure a ProSight ESP deployment that meets your organization's specific requirements and that allows you demonstrate compliance with legal and industry information protection regulations. Progent will assist you specify and implement security policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and react to alarms that call for urgent action. Progent's consultants can also assist your company to install and verify a backup and disaster recovery solution such as ProSight Data Protection Services so you can get back in business quickly from a destructive security attack like 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 mid-sized organizations a low cost end-to-end service for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). Available at a low monthly rate, ProSight Data Protection Services automates and monitors your backup activities and enables fast restoration of critical files, applications and virtual machines that have become unavailable or corrupted as a result of component failures, software bugs, disasters, human error, or malicious 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 images/. Important data can be backed up on the cloud, to a local device, or mirrored to both. Progent's BDR consultants can deliver world-class support to configure ProSight DPS to be compliant with regulatory standards such as HIPAA, FIRPA, and PCI and, whenever necessary, can assist you to recover your critical information. Find out 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 service that incorporates the infrastructure of top information security vendors to provide web-based management and world-class security for all your inbound and outbound email. The hybrid architecture of Email Guard managed service integrates a Cloud Protection Layer with an on-premises gateway appliance to provide complete protection against spam, viruses, Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, DHAs, and other email-borne threats. The cloud filter serves as a first line of defense and blocks most unwanted email from making it to your network firewall. This decreases your exposure to external attacks and conserves system bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's onsite security gateway device provides a further layer of analysis for inbound email. For outgoing email, the onsite security gateway provides anti-virus and anti-spam filtering, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The local gateway can also assist Microsoft Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard internal email traffic that originates and ends within your corporate firewall. For more information, visit Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Infrastructure Management
    Progentís ProSight WAN Watch is a network infrastructure management service that makes it easy and inexpensive for small and mid-sized businesses to map, track, optimize and troubleshoot their networking hardware like switches, firewalls, and wireless controllers plus servers, client computers and other devices. Using state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management technology, ProSight WAN Watch ensures that infrastructure topology maps are kept current, copies and displays the configuration information of almost all devices connected to your network, monitors performance, and generates alerts when issues are discovered. By automating time-consuming network management activities, WAN Watch can cut hours off common chores such as network mapping, expanding your network, finding appliances that need critical updates, or identifying the cause of performance bottlenecks. Learn more about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop remote monitoring managed service that uses state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management technology to help keep your network operating at peak levels by tracking the health of vital computers that drive your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch detects an issue, an alert is sent automatically to your specified IT management staff and your assigned Progent engineering consultant so any potential issues can be resolved before they can impact your network. Find out more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small organization can have its key servers and apps hosted in a protected Tier III data center on a high-performance virtual host set up and maintained by Progent's IT support experts. With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the client retains ownership of the data, the OS platforms, and the applications. Since the system is virtualized, it can be ported immediately to an alternate hardware environment without a lengthy and difficult reinstallation process. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not locked into a single hosting service. Learn 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 capture, update, retrieve and safeguard information related to your IT infrastructure, procedures, applications, and services. You can quickly find passwords or serial numbers and be warned automatically about impending expirations of SSLs or warranties. By updating and managing your network documentation, you can save up to half of time thrown away searching for critical information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a centralized repository for holding and sharing all documents related to managing your network infrastructure like standard operating procedures (SOPs) and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports advanced automation for gathering and associating IT information. Whether youíre making improvements, performing maintenance, or responding to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management gets you the data you require when you need it. Read more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For 24/7 Fort Collins Ransomware Recovery Consulting, reach out to Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.