Ransomware : Your Crippling IT Catastrophe
Ransomware  Remediation ProfessionalsRansomware has become a modern cyber pandemic that presents an existential threat for businesses of all sizes unprepared for an attack. Different iterations of ransomware such as Dharma, WannaCry, Locky, Syskey and MongoLock cryptoworms have been circulating for many years and still inflict damage. Newer strains of crypto-ransomware like Ryuk and Hermes, as well as daily unnamed malware, not only do encryption of on-line files but also infiltrate all accessible system protection mechanisms. Files synchronized to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be rendered useless. In a poorly designed system, this can render any recovery useless 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 tries its best to contain the damage and cleanup the crypto-ransomware and to resume business-critical activity. Because crypto-ransomware requires time to spread, assaults are frequently launched at night, when penetrations in many cases take longer to notice. This multiplies the difficulty of rapidly assembling and coordinating a capable mitigation team.

Progent makes available a range of services for protecting enterprises from ransomware events. Among these are staff training to help recognize and not fall victim to phishing exploits, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, plus deployment of the latest generation security solutions with artificial intelligence capabilities to intelligently detect and quarantine zero-day threats. Progent also offers the services of expert crypto-ransomware recovery consultants with the skills and perseverance to re-deploy a breached system as urgently as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Support Services
Following a ransomware attack, sending the ransom in cryptocurrency does not ensure that distant criminals will provide the needed codes to unencrypt all your data. Kaspersky Labs estimated that 17% of ransomware victims never restored their data after having sent off the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The risk is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms frequently range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly higher than the average crypto-ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be approximately $13,000. The alternative is to re-install the essential elements of your Information Technology environment. Absent access to essential information backups, this requires a broad range of skills, top notch project management, and the capability to work non-stop until the recovery project is done.

For twenty years, Progent has offered certified expert Information Technology services for companies in San Francisco and throughout the United States and has achieved Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes consultants who have been awarded advanced certifications in leading technologies such as Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cyber security experts have garnered internationally-renowned 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 expertise affords Progent the ability to quickly understand necessary systems and consolidate the surviving parts of your computer network environment after a ransomware event and configure them into an operational system.

Progent's ransomware team has best of breed project management systems to coordinate the complicated restoration process. Progent knows the urgency of acting swiftly and together with a client's management and IT resources to assign priority to tasks and to put essential services back on line as soon as possible.

Customer Story: A Successful Ransomware Intrusion Recovery
A client contacted Progent after their company was crashed by Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been launched by Northern Korean government sponsored cybercriminals, suspected of adopting technology leaked from the U.S. NSA organization. Ryuk attacks specific organizations with limited tolerance for operational disruption and is one of the most profitable iterations of crypto-ransomware. Headline victims include Data Resolution, a California-based information warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a small manufacturer headquartered in the Chicago metro area and has around 500 workers. The Ryuk intrusion had disabled all business operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's data backups had been directly accessible at the time of the attack and were destroyed. The client was evaluating paying the ransom demand (more than $200K) and wishfully thinking for the best, but in the end utilized Progent.


"I canít tell you enough about the expertise Progent provided us throughout the most stressful period of (our) businesses existence. We may have had to pay the cyber criminals except for the confidence the Progent group provided us. The fact that you were able to get our messaging and critical servers back online sooner than seven days was something I thought impossible. Each person I spoke to or texted at Progent was urgently focused on getting our company operational and was working all day and night on our behalf."

Progent worked hand in hand the client to rapidly assess and assign priority to the essential services that needed to be restored in order to resume business operations:

  • Active Directory (AD)
  • Email
  • Accounting/MRP
To begin, Progent adhered to ransomware penetration response industry best practices by isolating and removing active viruses. Progent then began the process of recovering Microsoft Active Directory, the key technology of enterprise environments built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Microsoft Exchange email will not function without Active Directory, and the businessesí financials and MRP software used SQL Server, which needs Active Directory services for authentication to the information.

In less than two days, Progent was able to recover Windows Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then completed reinstallations and hard drive recovery on essential applications. All Exchange Server schema and attributes were usable, which facilitated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was able to locate intact OST data files (Outlook Offline Folder Files) on staff workstations and laptops to recover mail information. A not too old offline backup of the client's financials/MRP software made them able to return these essential applications back online. Although a lot of work still had to be done to recover completely from the Ryuk event, essential systems were returned to operations quickly:


"For the most part, the production manufacturing operation did not miss a beat and we made all customer sales."

During the next couple of weeks key milestones in the recovery process were accomplished through close collaboration between Progent consultants and the client:

  • Internal web sites were returned to operation with no loss of information.
  • The MailStore Exchange Server with over four million archived emails was spun up and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoices/Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivables/Inventory functions were completely operational.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 security appliance was installed.
  • Nearly all of the desktop computers were fully operational.

"So much of what transpired in the early hours is mostly a fog for me, but we will not forget the care each of the team put in to give us our company back. Iíve utilized Progent for at least 10 years, possibly more, and each time I needed help Progent has shined and delivered as promised. This situation was a life saver."

Conclusion
A probable company-ending disaster was averted through the efforts of hard-working professionals, a broad range of knowledge, and tight collaboration. Although in hindsight the ransomware penetration detailed here would have been identified and blocked with current security systems and security best practices, staff education, and properly executed incident response procedures for data protection and keeping systems up to date with security patches, the reality is that government-sponsored cybercriminals from China, Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and are not going away. If you do get hit by a ransomware virus, feel confident that Progent's roster of professionals has a proven track record in crypto-ransomware virus blocking, cleanup, and information systems disaster recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others who were contributing), thanks very much for allowing me to get rested after we got past the initial push. Everyone did an impressive effort, and if any of your team is in the Chicago area, a great meal is on me!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent offers businesses in San Francisco a portfolio of remote monitoring and security evaluation services designed to assist you to reduce the threat from ransomware. These services utilize modern AI capability to detect new strains of crypto-ransomware that are able to 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 (EPP) solution that incorporates cutting edge behavior-based machine learning tools to guard physical and virtual endpoints against new malware attacks like ransomware and file-less exploits, which easily get by legacy signature-based AV tools. ProSight ASM protects local and cloud resources and offers a single platform to automate the complete malware attack progression including filtering, infiltration detection, containment, remediation, and forensics. Top features include one-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service and automatic network-wide immunization against new attacks. Read more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Physical and Virtual Endpoint Protection and Microsoft Exchange Email Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) services offer affordable in-depth security for physical servers and virtual machines, workstations, smartphones, and Microsoft Exchange. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and advanced heuristics for continuously monitoring and responding to cyber threats from all vectors. ProSight ESP offers two-way firewall protection, intrusion alarms, device management, and web filtering via cutting-edge tools incorporated within one agent accessible from a unified console. Progent's data protection and virtualization consultants can assist your business to plan and implement a ProSight ESP environment that addresses your organization's unique requirements and that allows you prove compliance with government and industry data security standards. Progent will help you define 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 you to install and test a backup and restore solution like ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can get back in business quickly from a destructive cyber attack like ransomware. Read more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified physical and virtual endpoint security and Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Disaster Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services offer small and mid-sized organizations an affordable end-to-end solution for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). For a low monthly rate, ProSight Data Protection Services automates your backup activities and allows rapid restoration of critical files, apps and VMs that have become lost or corrupted as a result of component failures, software glitches, disasters, human mistakes, or malicious attacks like ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you protect, recover and restore files, folders, applications, system images, as well as Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Critical data can be backed up on the cloud, to a local storage device, or to both. Progent's BDR specialists can deliver world-class expertise to configure ProSight DPS to to comply with regulatory requirements like HIPAA, FINRA, and PCI and, whenever necessary, can help you to recover your critical information. Learn more about ProSight DPS Managed Backup and Recovery.

  • 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 information security vendors to deliver web-based management and world-class security for your inbound and outbound email. The powerful architecture of Progent's Email Guard integrates cloud-based filtering with an on-premises security gateway device to offer complete protection against spam, viruses, Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks (DHAs), and other email-borne malware. Email Guard's Cloud Protection Layer acts as a preliminary barricade and keeps the vast majority of threats from reaching your security perimeter. This reduces your vulnerability to external threats and saves system bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's onsite gateway device adds a further level of inspection for incoming email. For outgoing email, the onsite security gateway provides anti-virus and anti-spam filtering, protection against data leaks, and email encryption. The on-premises gateway can also help Exchange Server to monitor and safeguard internal email traffic that originates and ends inside your security perimeter. For more information, see Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Network Infrastructure Remote Monitoring and Management
    ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure monitoring and management service that makes it simple and affordable for smaller businesses to map, track, optimize and debug their connectivity appliances such as switches, firewalls, and wireless controllers plus servers, endpoints and other devices. Using cutting-edge Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) technology, WAN Watch makes sure that network diagrams are always current, captures and manages the configuration of almost all devices on your network, monitors performance, and generates alerts when potential issues are discovered. By automating time-consuming management and troubleshooting processes, ProSight WAN Watch can cut hours off ordinary chores like network mapping, expanding your network, locating appliances that need critical software patches, or isolating performance bottlenecks. Find out more about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Remote Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop monitoring service that incorporates advanced remote monitoring and management (RMM) technology to help keep your network operating efficiently by tracking the state of vital assets that drive your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers a problem, an alert is transmitted automatically to your specified IT management staff and your Progent engineering consultant so that all looming problems can be addressed before they have a chance to disrupt your network. Learn more 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 or mid-size organization can have its key servers and applications hosted in a protected fault tolerant data center on a fast virtual machine host configured and maintained by Progent's network support professionals. With the ProSight Virtual Hosting service model, the customer owns the data, the OS platforms, and the apps. Because the system is virtualized, it can be ported immediately to a different hardware environment without requiring a time-consuming and difficult reinstallation procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not tied one hosting provider. Learn more details about ProSight Virtual Hosting services.

  • ProSight IT Asset Management: Network Documentation Management
    Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service is an IT infrastructure documentation management service that makes it easy to capture, update, find and protect data related to your network infrastructure, procedures, business apps, and services. You can instantly find passwords or IP addresses and be warned automatically about upcoming expirations of SSLs or domains. By cleaning up and managing your network documentation, you can eliminate up to 50% of time thrown away trying to find vital information about your network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a centralized location for storing and collaborating on all documents related to managing your business network like standard operating procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also offers a high level of automation for collecting and associating IT data. Whether youíre making improvements, doing maintenance, or responding to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the information you need as soon as you need it. Read more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For 24/7 San Francisco Crypto-Ransomware Recovery Consulting, contact Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.