Ransomware : Your Feared IT Nightmare
Ransomware  Remediation ExpertsRansomware has become an escalating cyber pandemic that represents an enterprise-level threat for businesses poorly prepared for an assault. Multiple generations of ransomware like the CryptoLocker, CryptoWall, Locky, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been around for a long time and still inflict havoc. More recent versions of crypto-ransomware like Ryuk and Hermes, plus frequent as yet unnamed viruses, not only do encryption of on-line critical data but also infiltrate most available system protection mechanisms. Files replicated to cloud environments can also be ransomed. In a poorly architected system, it can make any restore operations impossible and basically sets the entire system back to square one.

Getting back online services and data after a crypto-ransomware event becomes a race against the clock as the targeted organization tries its best to contain and cleanup the crypto-ransomware and to restore mission-critical operations. Because ransomware takes time to move laterally, penetrations are usually sprung on weekends, when penetrations may take longer to recognize. This compounds the difficulty of quickly marshalling and coordinating a qualified response team.

Progent offers a range of solutions for securing enterprises from ransomware events. Among these are team training to become familiar with and avoid phishing attempts, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, along with installation of next-generation security appliances with AI technology to rapidly discover and disable new cyber threats. Progent in addition offers the assistance of expert ransomware recovery engineers with the talent and commitment to re-deploy a breached system as urgently as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Recovery Services
Soon after a ransomware attack, paying the ransom demands in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not guarantee that cyber hackers will return the keys to decrypt all your information. Kaspersky Labs ascertained that 17% of ransomware victims never restored their files even after having paid the ransom, resulting in increased losses. The gamble is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms often range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is well higher than the average ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be around $13,000. The other path is to piece back together the essential parts of your Information Technology environment. Absent the availability of essential data backups, this requires a wide range of skills, top notch team management, and the capability to work 24x7 until the recovery project is complete.

For two decades, Progent has provided professional Information Technology services for companies in Salem and across the US and has earned Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes engineers who have attained high-level certifications in important technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity engineers have earned internationally-recognized industry certifications including CISM, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (Refer to Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise in financial management and ERP applications. This breadth of experience affords Progent the skills to quickly identify important systems and integrate the surviving parts of your network environment following a ransomware attack and configure them into an operational network.

Progent's ransomware team of experts uses powerful project management systems to coordinate the complex recovery process. Progent appreciates the importance of working rapidly and in unison with a customerís management and IT team members to prioritize tasks and to put essential services back on line as fast as possible.

Customer Story: A Successful Ransomware Intrusion Recovery
A business sought out Progent after their company was taken over by the Ryuk ransomware virus. Ryuk is believed to have been developed by North Korean state sponsored hackers, suspected of using technology leaked from Americaís NSA organization. Ryuk seeks specific businesses with little or no room for operational disruption and is among the most profitable examples of ransomware. Well Known organizations include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a single-location manufacturing business based in Chicago and has around 500 employees. The Ryuk penetration had disabled all company operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's data backups had been directly accessible at the beginning of the attack and were damaged. The client was actively seeking loans for paying the ransom demand (more than two hundred thousand dollars) and hoping for the best, but in the end reached out to Progent.


"I cannot tell you enough about the help Progent gave us during the most fearful period of (our) businesses life. We most likely would have paid the Hackers if it wasnít for the confidence the Progent group gave us. The fact that you were able to get our e-mail system and critical applications back in less than one week was amazing. Each expert I got help from or communicated with at Progent was amazingly focused on getting my company operational and was working non-stop on our behalf."

Progent worked together with the customer to rapidly get our arms around and prioritize the most important systems that had to be restored to make it possible to restart company functions:

  • Windows Active Directory
  • Exchange Server
  • MRP System
To get going, Progent followed Anti-virus penetration response industry best practices by halting lateral movement and removing active viruses. Progent then initiated the work of restoring Microsoft AD, the key technology of enterprise networks built on Microsoft technology. Exchange messaging will not operate without Active Directory, and the client's accounting and MRP software used Microsoft SQL, which requires Windows AD for security authorization to the database.

Within two days, Progent was able to restore Active Directory services to its pre-attack state. Progent then performed rebuilding and storage recovery on key systems. All Microsoft Exchange Server schema and attributes were intact, which facilitated the restore of Exchange. Progent was able to locate local OST files (Microsoft Outlook Offline Folder Files) on staff desktop computers to recover mail messages. A not too old offline backup of the customerís financials/MRP software made it possible to return these essential applications back servicing users. Although major work needed to be completed to recover fully from the Ryuk event, the most important services were restored rapidly:


"For the most part, the assembly line operation did not miss a beat and we did not miss any customer deliverables."

Throughout the next few weeks important milestones in the restoration process were made through tight cooperation between Progent team members and the client:

  • In-house web sites were brought back up with no loss of information.
  • The MailStore Microsoft Exchange Server with over 4 million historical emails was restored to operations and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Customer Orders/Invoices/AP/Accounts Receivables (AR)/Inventory Control modules were fully restored.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 firewall was installed and configured.
  • Ninety percent of the desktops and laptops were functioning as before the incident.

"So much of what occurred during the initial response is mostly a blur for me, but my team will not forget the commitment all of the team accomplished to give us our business back. Iíve utilized Progent for at least 10 years, possibly more, and every time I needed help Progent has come through and delivered as promised. This situation was a testament to your capabilities."

Conclusion
A likely business-killing catastrophe was averted due to hard-working professionals, a wide range of knowledge, and tight teamwork. Although in analyzing the event afterwards the ransomware penetration detailed here would have been identified and blocked with advanced security systems and best practices, user and IT administrator training, and well thought out security procedures for backup and proper patching controls, the reality remains that government-sponsored cyber criminals from China, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and are not going away. If you do get hit by a ransomware attack, remember that Progent's team of professionals has a proven track record in crypto-ransomware virus defense, remediation, and data disaster recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen and Chris (along with others that were helping), thank you for making it so I could get some sleep after we made it past the initial fire. All of you did an fabulous job, and if any of your team is around the Chicago area, a great meal is on me!"

To read or download a PDF version of this ransomware incident report, please click:
Progent's Ryuk Incident Recovery Case Study Datasheet. (PDF - 282 KB)

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent can provide businesses in Salem a portfolio of remote monitoring and security assessment services designed to assist you to reduce the threat from ransomware. These services incorporate modern machine learning technology to uncover new strains of ransomware that can evade traditional signature-based security products.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) is an endpoint protection service that incorporates next generation behavior-based machine learning tools to defend physical and virtual endpoints against new malware attacks like ransomware and email phishing, which easily get by traditional signature-matching anti-virus tools. ProSight Active Security Monitoring protects local and cloud-based resources and offers a single platform to address the entire malware attack progression including blocking, infiltration detection, containment, remediation, and forensics. Key capabilities include single-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service and automatic system-wide immunization against newly discovered threats. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware defense.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Endpoint Security and Microsoft Exchange Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection managed services offer ultra-affordable multi-layer protection for physical servers and VMs, desktops, smartphones, and Exchange Server. ProSight ESP uses adaptive security and advanced heuristics for round-the-clock monitoring and reacting to cyber assaults from all attack vectors. ProSight ESP delivers two-way firewall protection, penetration alarms, device control, and web filtering through cutting-edge tools packaged within one agent accessible from a unified console. Progent's data protection and virtualization experts can help your business to plan and configure a ProSight ESP environment that addresses your organization's unique needs and that helps you achieve and demonstrate compliance with legal and industry information security regulations. Progent will help you specify and configure security policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your network and react to alerts that call for immediate attention. Progent can also help your company to install and verify a backup and disaster recovery system like ProSight Data Protection Services so you can recover rapidly from a potentially disastrous cyber attack like ransomware. Read more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified physical and virtual endpoint security and Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services offer small and mid-sized businesses a low cost end-to-end solution for secure backup/disaster recovery. For a low monthly price, ProSight Data Protection Services automates your backup activities and allows fast recovery of critical data, apps and virtual machines that have become unavailable or damaged as a result of hardware breakdowns, software glitches, natural disasters, human mistakes, or malware attacks such as ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you protect, retrieve and restore files, folders, applications, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware images/. Critical data can be protected on the cloud, to an on-promises storage device, or mirrored to both. Progent's BDR consultants can deliver world-class expertise to configure ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with government and industry regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, FINRA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, when necessary, can assist you to restore your business-critical information. Read 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 uses the infrastructure of top data security vendors to deliver web-based management and world-class security for your email traffic. The powerful architecture of Email Guard integrates a Cloud Protection Layer with an on-premises gateway device to offer advanced protection against spam, viruses, Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks, and other email-based threats. The Cloud Protection Layer serves as a preliminary barricade and blocks most unwanted email from making it to your network firewall. This reduces your exposure to inbound threats and conserves system bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's onsite security gateway device provides a deeper level of inspection for inbound email. For outbound email, the on-premises security gateway provides anti-virus and anti-spam filtering, DLP, and email encryption. The onsite gateway can also help Microsoft Exchange Server to track and protect internal email that stays inside your security perimeter. For more details, visit ProSight Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Infrastructure Management
    ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure management service that makes it simple and affordable for smaller organizations to map out, track, optimize and debug their connectivity appliances such as routers, firewalls, and wireless controllers as well as servers, printers, endpoints and other devices. Using state-of-the-art RMM technology, ProSight WAN Watch ensures that network maps are kept current, captures and manages the configuration information of almost all devices connected to your network, monitors performance, and generates notices when issues are detected. By automating tedious management activities, ProSight WAN Watch can cut hours off common chores such as network mapping, reconfiguring your network, finding appliances that require important updates, or isolating performance issues. Find out more details about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management services.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop monitoring service that uses advanced remote monitoring and management techniques to help keep your IT system operating at peak levels by tracking the state of vital assets that power your business network. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers an issue, an alert is transmitted automatically to your designated IT management staff and your assigned Progent engineering consultant so any looming issues can be addressed before they can impact productivity. Find out more details about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size business can have its key servers and applications hosted in a protected Tier III data center on a fast virtual host configured and managed by Progent's network support professionals. Under the ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the customer owns the data, the OS software, and the apps. Because the environment is virtualized, it can be moved immediately to a different hardware environment without requiring a time-consuming and technically risky configuration procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not tied one hosting service. Learn more about ProSight Virtual Hosting services.

  • ProSight IT Asset Management: Network Documentation Management
    ProSight IT Asset Management service is a cloud-based IT documentation management service that allows you to capture, update, find and protect data related to your IT infrastructure, processes, applications, and services. You can quickly find passwords or IP addresses and be warned automatically about upcoming expirations of SSL certificates ,domains or warranties. By cleaning up and organizing your network documentation, you can eliminate as much as half of time thrown away looking for vital information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a common repository for storing and collaborating on all documents related to managing your business network like recommended procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports a high level of automation for collecting and relating IT information. Whether youíre planning enhancements, performing regular maintenance, or reacting to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the information you need when you need it. Read more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For 24-Hour Salem Crypto Remediation Support Services, contact Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.