Ransomware : Your Worst IT Nightmare
Ransomware  Remediation ConsultantsRansomware has become a modern cyberplague that poses an existential danger for organizations vulnerable to an assault. Different iterations of ransomware such as CrySIS, WannaCry, Locky, NotPetya and MongoLock cryptoworms have been out in the wild for many years and continue to cause damage. Newer versions of ransomware like Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, Snatch or Egregor, along with frequent unnamed viruses, not only encrypt on-line information but also infect most available system restores and backups. Files replicated to cloud environments can also be rendered useless. In a poorly architected system, it can render automated restoration impossible and effectively sets the network back to square one.

Getting back online programs and data after a ransomware event becomes a sprint against time as the victim tries its best to stop lateral movement and remove the ransomware and to restore mission-critical operations. Because ransomware requires time to spread, penetrations are usually sprung on weekends, when successful penetrations are likely to take longer to discover. This compounds the difficulty of quickly marshalling and coordinating an experienced mitigation team.

Progent makes available a range of services for protecting organizations from crypto-ransomware penetrations. These include team member training to become familiar with and avoid phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, along with deployment of modern security gateways with artificial intelligence technology to intelligently discover and disable new cyber attacks. Progent in addition provides the assistance of veteran ransomware recovery professionals with the track record and perseverance to restore a breached environment as urgently as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Services
Subsequent to a ransomware penetration, sending the ransom in cryptocurrency does not guarantee that cyber hackers will provide the needed codes to unencrypt all your information. Kaspersky determined that 17% of crypto-ransomware victims never recovered their data after having paid the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The risk is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms frequently range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly higher than the usual ransomware demands, which ZDNET determined to be approximately $13,000. The other path is to piece back together the essential components of your IT environment. Without access to full information backups, this calls for a broad complement of skill sets, top notch project management, and the ability to work continuously until the recovery project is complete.

For decades, Progent has provided expert Information Technology services for businesses in Savannah and across the US and has earned Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's pool of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes engineers who have attained high-level certifications in key technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's security specialists have earned internationally-recognized certifications including CISM, CISSP-ISSAP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has experience in accounting and ERP software solutions. This breadth of expertise affords Progent the ability to rapidly understand important systems and re-organize the surviving parts of your network environment following a crypto-ransomware attack and rebuild them into an operational system.

Progent's recovery team has best of breed project management systems to orchestrate the complex recovery process. Progent knows the urgency of acting quickly and together with a customerís management and Information Technology team members to assign priority to tasks and to get the most important systems back online as fast as humanly possible.

Client Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Virus Recovery
A small business escalated to Progent after their company was attacked by Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been created by Northern Korean state cybercriminals, possibly using strategies exposed from Americaís NSA organization. Ryuk goes after specific businesses with little or no room for disruption and is one of the most lucrative versions of crypto-ransomware. High publicized victims include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing firm, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a single-location manufacturer headquartered in the Chicago metro area with about 500 employees. The Ryuk event had frozen all company operations and manufacturing capabilities. The majority of the client's data protection had been online at the start of the intrusion and were eventually encrypted. The client was taking steps for paying the ransom demand (in excess of $200K) and wishfully thinking for the best, but in the end made the decision to use Progent.


"I canít say enough in regards to the support Progent provided us during the most fearful period of (our) businesses survival. We would have paid the criminal gangs if it wasnít for the confidence the Progent group afforded us. The fact that you could get our e-mail system and key applications back quicker than a week was amazing. Every single expert I interacted with or e-mailed at Progent was laser focused on getting our company operational and was working all day and night on our behalf."

Progent worked with the customer to quickly get our arms around and assign priority to the most important areas that needed to be recovered to make it possible to restart business operations:

  • Active Directory (AD)
  • Electronic Messaging
  • MRP System
To begin, Progent followed AV/Malware Processes incident response industry best practices by isolating and clearing infected systems. Progent then initiated the process of restoring Microsoft Active Directory, the foundation of enterprise systems built on Microsoft technology. Microsoft Exchange Server messaging will not operate without Active Directory, and the client's MRP software used Microsoft SQL, which depends on Windows AD for access to the data.

In less than 48 hours, Progent was able to rebuild Active Directory services to its pre-intrusion state. Progent then performed rebuilding and hard drive recovery on key systems. All Microsoft Exchange Server data and attributes were usable, which accelerated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was able to collect intact OST data files (Outlook Offline Data Files) on team desktop computers and laptops to recover email messages. A recent offline backup of the client's accounting/ERP systems made it possible to restore these vital programs back online. Although a lot of work was left to recover completely from the Ryuk attack, essential systems were recovered quickly:


"For the most part, the assembly line operation ran fairly normal throughout and we made all customer orders."

Throughout the following few weeks critical milestones in the restoration project were accomplished through tight cooperation between Progent team members and the client:

  • In-house web sites were brought back up without losing any data.
  • The MailStore Server with over 4 million archived messages was brought on-line and available for users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoicing/Accounts Payable (AP)/Accounts Receivables/Inventory capabilities were 100% recovered.
  • A new Palo Alto Networks 850 security appliance was set up and programmed.
  • Most of the user PCs were functioning as before the incident.

"A lot of what was accomplished during the initial response is mostly a haze for me, but our team will not soon forget the care all of you accomplished to give us our business back. Iíve been working with Progent for at least 10 years, possibly more, and each time I needed help Progent has impressed me and delivered. This situation was a Herculean accomplishment."

Conclusion
A potential business extinction disaster was avoided due to top-tier experts, a broad array of IT skills, and close teamwork. Although in post mortem the ransomware penetration detailed here could have been identified and prevented with up-to-date cyber security technology and ISO/IEC 27001 best practices, team training, and well thought out security procedures for data backup and proper patching controls, the reality is that government-sponsored criminal cyber gangs from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are tireless and will continue. If you do fall victim to a ransomware virus, feel confident that Progent's roster of experts has extensive experience in crypto-ransomware virus defense, remediation, and data recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Aaron, Dan, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (along with others that were contributing), thanks very much for letting me get some sleep after we got through the initial push. Everyone did an incredible effort, and if anyone that helped is around the Chicago area, a great meal is my treat!"

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

Additional Crypto-Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent can provide businesses in Savannah a range of remote monitoring and security assessment services designed to assist you to reduce the threat from crypto-ransomware. These services include next-generation AI technology to uncover new variants of ransomware that can escape detection by legacy signature-based anti-virus solutions.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) is an endpoint protection (EPP) service that utilizes cutting edge behavior-based machine learning tools to guard physical and virtual endpoint devices against new malware attacks such as ransomware and file-less exploits, which routinely get by legacy signature-matching anti-virus products. ProSight Active Security Monitoring protects on-premises and cloud resources and provides a unified platform to manage the entire threat progression including protection, identification, mitigation, cleanup, and forensics. Top capabilities include one-click rollback with Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and automatic network-wide immunization against new threats. Learn more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Endpoint Protection and Exchange Filtering
    Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) services offer affordable multi-layer protection for physical servers and virtual machines, desktops, smartphones, and Exchange Server. ProSight ESP utilizes adaptive security and advanced machine learning for round-the-clock monitoring and responding to cyber assaults from all vectors. ProSight ESP offers two-way firewall protection, intrusion alarms, device control, and web filtering through cutting-edge technologies incorporated within one agent managed from a single console. Progent's security and virtualization consultants can help your business to design and implement a ProSight ESP deployment that meets your company's unique needs and that allows you prove compliance with legal and industry data security standards. Progent will assist you define and configure policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your network and react to alarms that require immediate attention. Progent can also help you to set up and verify a backup and restore solution such as ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can get back in business quickly from a potentially disastrous security attack such as ransomware. Read more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) unified endpoint protection and Microsoft Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services offer small and mid-sized businesses an affordable end-to-end solution for secure backup/disaster recovery (BDR). Available at a low monthly cost, ProSight Data Protection Services automates and monitors your backup activities and allows rapid restoration of critical files, apps and VMs that have become lost or damaged due to component breakdowns, software glitches, natural disasters, human mistakes, or malware attacks such as ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you back up, retrieve and restore files, folders, apps, system images, as well as Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Critical data can be backed up on the cloud, to an on-promises device, or to both. Progent's cloud backup specialists can deliver world-class support to configure ProSight Data Protection Services to to comply with regulatory standards such as HIPAA, FIRPA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever needed, can assist you to recover your business-critical information. Find out more about ProSight DPS Managed Cloud Backup and Recovery.

  • ProSight Email Guard: Inbound and Outbound Spam Filtering and Data Leakage Protection
    ProSight Email Guard is Progent's spam filtering service that uses the infrastructure of top data security vendors to provide centralized control and world-class protection for all your inbound and outbound email. The hybrid architecture of Email Guard integrates cloud-based filtering with an on-premises gateway appliance to provide complete defense against spam, viruses, Dos Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks (DHAs), and other email-based threats. The cloud filter serves as a preliminary barricade and blocks most threats from making it to your network firewall. This decreases your vulnerability to external threats and saves network bandwidth and storage. Email Guard's on-premises security gateway device provides a deeper level of analysis for inbound email. For outgoing email, the on-premises security gateway offers anti-virus and anti-spam protection, DLP, and email encryption. The onsite security gateway can also help Microsoft Exchange Server to monitor and protect internal email that stays inside your corporate firewall. For more details, see ProSight Email Guard spam and content filtering.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Network Infrastructure Management
    Progentís ProSight WAN Watch is a network infrastructure monitoring and management service that makes it simple and inexpensive for small and mid-sized businesses to diagram, monitor, optimize and troubleshoot their connectivity appliances like routers, firewalls, and wireless controllers plus servers, client computers and other devices. Incorporating cutting-edge RMM technology, WAN Watch makes sure that infrastructure topology diagrams are kept updated, captures and displays the configuration of almost all devices on your network, tracks performance, and generates alerts when problems are discovered. By automating complex management activities, ProSight WAN Watch can knock hours off ordinary tasks like network mapping, expanding your network, finding appliances that need important updates, or resolving performance bottlenecks. Learn more details about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure management consulting.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop remote monitoring managed service that incorporates state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management techniques to help keep your IT system operating efficiently by tracking the state of critical computers that power your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers a problem, an alarm is sent automatically to your designated IT personnel and your assigned Progent consultant so any looming issues can be resolved before they have a chance to disrupt your network. Find out more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring consulting.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted Virtual Machines at Progent's World-class Data Center
    With ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size organization can have its key servers and apps hosted in a secure fault tolerant data center on a fast virtual host set up and managed by Progent's network support experts. With the ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the customer owns the data, the OS platforms, and the apps. Since the system is virtualized, it can be moved immediately to a different hardware solution without requiring a time-consuming and technically risky configuration procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not tied one hosting provider. Learn more details about ProSight Virtual Hosting services.

  • ProSight IT Asset Management: Network Documentation Management
    ProSight IT Asset Management service is an IT infrastructure documentation management service that allows you to capture, maintain, find and safeguard data related to your network infrastructure, procedures, applications, and services. You can quickly find passwords or serial numbers and be warned automatically about upcoming expirations of SSL certificates or warranties. By cleaning up and managing your IT documentation, you can save as much as half of time thrown away trying to find critical information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management includes a centralized location for holding and collaborating on all documents required for managing your network infrastructure such as standard operating procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also offers advanced automation for collecting and associating IT information. Whether youíre planning enhancements, doing maintenance, or responding to an emergency, ProSight IT Asset Management gets you the data you require the instant you need it. Learn more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For 24-Hour Savannah Crypto Cleanup Support Services, call Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.