Ransomware : Your Crippling Information Technology Nightmare
Ransomware  Recovery ExpertsCrypto-Ransomware has become a too-frequent cyber pandemic that poses an extinction-level danger for organizations vulnerable to an attack. Versions of crypto-ransomware like the CrySIS, WannaCry, Bad Rabbit, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been out in the wild for a long time and still inflict damage. Recent strains of ransomware such as Ryuk and Hermes, along with frequent as yet unnamed newcomers, not only encrypt online files but also infect any accessible system protection. Data synchronized to cloud environments can also be rendered useless. In a poorly architected data protection solution, this can make automated restore operations hopeless and basically knocks the entire system back to zero.

Getting back online applications and data after a ransomware intrusion becomes a sprint against time as the targeted organization fights to stop lateral movement and clear the ransomware and to restore mission-critical activity. Due to the fact that ransomware takes time to spread, assaults are frequently launched during weekends and nights, when successful penetrations in many cases take more time to notice. This compounds the difficulty of rapidly marshalling and organizing a knowledgeable response team.

Progent makes available a variety of support services for protecting organizations from ransomware penetrations. These include team member training to help recognize and not fall victim to phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring for remote monitoring and management, in addition to deployment of next-generation security solutions with machine learning technology to intelligently detect and disable day-zero cyber attacks. Progent in addition can provide the services of seasoned ransomware recovery engineers with the skills and commitment to rebuild a breached environment as rapidly as possible.

Progent's Crypto-Ransomware Restoration Support Services
Soon after a ransomware event, even paying the ransom in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not guarantee that distant criminals will provide the needed keys to decrypt any or all of your information. Kaspersky Labs estimated that seventeen percent of crypto-ransomware victims never restored their information even after having sent off the ransom, resulting in more losses. The gamble is also very costly. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from 15-40 BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is significantly above the typical ransomware demands, which ZDNET estimates to be approximately $13,000. The other path is to re-install the key elements of your Information Technology environment. Absent the availability of full data backups, this requires a broad range of skill sets, professional team management, and the capability to work non-stop until the task is complete.

For two decades, Progent has provided expert Information Technology services for companies in Southfield and throughout the US and has earned Microsoft's Partnership certification in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's group of subject matter experts includes consultants who have attained top industry certifications in leading technologies including Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity experts have garnered internationally-recognized certifications including CISA, CISSP-ISSAP, ISACA CRISC, and SANS GIAC. (See Progent's certifications). Progent in addition has expertise in financial systems and ERP application software. This breadth of experience affords Progent the skills to rapidly identify necessary systems and re-organize the surviving parts of your Information Technology system following a crypto-ransomware penetration and assemble them into an operational network.

Progent's recovery team deploys state-of-the-art project management tools to orchestrate the complex restoration process. Progent appreciates the urgency of acting quickly and in unison with a customerís management and Information Technology staff to assign priority to tasks and to get essential services back on line as soon as possible.

Client Case Study: A Successful Crypto-Ransomware Penetration Response
A client hired Progent after their network was taken over by Ryuk ransomware. Ryuk is generally considered to have been developed by North Korean government sponsored hackers, suspected of adopting technology exposed from the U.S. National Security Agency. Ryuk seeks specific businesses with little or no tolerance for operational disruption and is one of the most lucrative versions of ransomware. High publicized organizations include Data Resolution, a California-based info warehousing and cloud computing business, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's client is a small manufacturing business headquartered in Chicago and has around 500 staff members. The Ryuk intrusion had paralyzed all company operations and manufacturing capabilities. Most of the client's information backups had been online at the time of the attack and were eventually encrypted. The client was evaluating paying the ransom (in excess of $200K) and wishfully thinking for good luck, but ultimately engaged Progent.


"I cannot thank you enough about the expertise Progent gave us during the most stressful time of (our) companyís life. We would have paid the cybercriminals if not for the confidence the Progent experts provided us. That you were able to get our messaging and critical servers back online in less than one week was earth shattering. Each staff member I worked with or e-mailed at Progent was hell bent on getting my company operational and was working breakneck pace on our behalf."

Progent worked with the client to rapidly identify and prioritize the mission critical areas that had to be restored in order to resume business operations:

  • Windows Active Directory
  • Electronic Messaging
  • Financials/MRP
To start, Progent adhered to AV/Malware Processes penetration mitigation best practices by halting lateral movement and removing active viruses. Progent then initiated the steps of restoring Microsoft Active Directory, the foundation of enterprise systems built upon Microsoft technology. Microsoft Exchange email will not work without Windows AD, and the customerís accounting and MRP software leveraged SQL Server, which needs Active Directory services for access to the database.

In less than 48 hours, Progent was able to recover Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then helped perform setup and storage recovery on essential servers. All Exchange Server data and configuration information were intact, which facilitated the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was able to collect non-encrypted OST data files (Outlook Email Offline Folder Files) on user workstations and laptops in order to recover email data. A recent off-line backup of the businesses accounting/MRP systems made them able to recover these essential applications back online. Although major work needed to be completed to recover fully from the Ryuk attack, the most important services were recovered quickly:


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

Over the following few weeks important milestones in the restoration project were completed through close collaboration between Progent engineers and the customer:

  • In-house web applications were brought back up without losing any information.
  • The MailStore Exchange Server containing more than 4 million historical messages was brought online and available for users.
  • CRM/Product Ordering/Invoicing/Accounts Payable (AP)/AR/Inventory capabilities were completely operational.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was set up.
  • Ninety percent of the user desktops were back into operation.

"Much of what went on that first week is nearly entirely a haze for me, but I will not forget the dedication each and every one of your team put in to give us our company back. I have utilized Progent for at least 10 years, maybe more, and every time Progent has shined and delivered as promised. This event was no exception but maybe more Herculean."

Conclusion
A possible enterprise-killing disaster was dodged by hard-working professionals, a broad range of knowledge, and tight teamwork. Although in retrospect the crypto-ransomware penetration detailed here should have been prevented with up-to-date security technology solutions and best practices, staff education, and appropriate incident response procedures for data backup and proper patching controls, the fact remains that government-sponsored cyber criminals from Russia, North Korea and elsewhere are relentless and will continue. If you do get hit by a ransomware virus, remember that Progent's roster of professionals has substantial experience in crypto-ransomware virus defense, cleanup, and file recovery.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (and any others who were helping), Iím grateful for allowing me to get rested after we got through the initial fire. All of you did an fabulous job, and if any of your guys is in the Chicago area, a great meal is on me!"

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

Additional Crypto-Ransomware Protection Services Available from Progent
Progent offers businesses in Southfield a range of remote monitoring and security evaluation services designed to assist you to reduce your vulnerability to crypto-ransomware. These services incorporate next-generation artificial intelligence technology to uncover new strains of crypto-ransomware that can get past legacy signature-based security solutions.

  • ProSight Active Security Monitoring: Endpoint Protection and Ransomware Defense
    Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring is an endpoint protection service that utilizes cutting edge behavior machine learning tools to guard physical and virtual endpoint devices against modern malware assaults like ransomware and email phishing, which easily get by traditional signature-based AV products. ProSight Active Security Monitoring protects on-premises and cloud resources and offers a unified platform to automate the entire threat lifecycle including protection, infiltration detection, mitigation, remediation, and post-attack forensics. Top features include single-click rollback using Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and automatic system-wide immunization against new threats. Read more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection: Physical and Virtual Endpoint Security and Microsoft Exchange Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection managed services offer ultra-affordable multi-layer protection for physical servers and VMs, desktops, mobile devices, and Microsoft Exchange. ProSight ESP utilizes contextual security and advanced machine learning for continuously monitoring and reacting to security threats from all vectors. ProSight ESP offers two-way firewall protection, penetration alerts, endpoint control, and web filtering via cutting-edge tools incorporated within a single agent accessible from a single control. Progent's security and virtualization experts can help your business to plan and configure a ProSight ESP deployment that meets your company's unique requirements and that helps you prove compliance with legal and industry data security regulations. Progent will help you specify and configure security policies that ProSight ESP will enforce, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and react to alarms that require urgent attention. Progent can also help you to install and verify a backup and restore system such as ProSight Data Protection Services so you can get back in business quickly from a destructive security attack like ransomware. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Enhanced Security Protection unified physical and virtual endpoint security and Microsoft Exchange email filtering.

  • ProSight Data Protection Services: Managed Backup and Recovery
    ProSight Data Protection Services provide small and mid-sized organizations an affordable and fully managed solution for reliable backup/disaster recovery (BDR). Available at a fixed monthly cost, ProSight Data Protection Services automates your backup processes and enables fast restoration of vital files, apps and VMs that have become unavailable or corrupted as a result of hardware failures, software bugs, natural disasters, human error, or malware attacks like ransomware. ProSight Data Protection Services can help you protect, retrieve and restore files, folders, apps, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware virtual machine images. Important data can be backed up on the cloud, to an on-promises storage device, or to both. Progent's BDR consultants can deliver advanced expertise to set up ProSight Data Protection Services to be compliant with regulatory requirements like HIPPA, FIRPA, PCI and Safe Harbor and, whenever needed, can assist you to restore your critical data. Read 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 and virus filtering and email encryption service that incorporates the infrastructure of top data security companies to deliver web-based control and world-class security for all your inbound and outbound email. The hybrid structure of Email Guard integrates a Cloud Protection Layer with a local security gateway device to offer complete defense against spam, viruses, Denial of Service Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks, and other email-borne malware. The Cloud Protection Layer acts as a first line of defense and keeps most unwanted email from making it to your security perimeter. This reduces your exposure to external attacks and saves system bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's on-premises gateway appliance adds a deeper layer of analysis for inbound email. For outgoing email, the on-premises security gateway provides anti-virus and anti-spam protection, policy-based Data Loss Prevention, and email encryption. The on-premises gateway can also assist Microsoft Exchange Server to track and protect internal email traffic that originates and ends within your corporate firewall. For more details, visit Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Infrastructure Remote Monitoring and Management
    Progentís ProSight WAN Watch is a network infrastructure management service that makes it easy and inexpensive for smaller organizations to diagram, track, optimize and debug their connectivity hardware like switches, firewalls, and access points as well as servers, endpoints and other devices. Using cutting-edge RMM technology, ProSight WAN Watch ensures that infrastructure topology maps are kept updated, captures and displays the configuration of almost all devices connected to your network, monitors performance, and generates notices when potential issues are detected. By automating time-consuming network management activities, ProSight WAN Watch can cut hours off ordinary tasks like network mapping, reconfiguring your network, finding devices that need critical updates, or isolating performance issues. Learn more details about ProSight WAN Watch network infrastructure monitoring and management services.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progentís server and desktop monitoring managed service that incorporates state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management (RMM) technology to help keep your IT system running efficiently by tracking the state of critical assets that power your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch detects a problem, an alert is sent immediately to your specified IT management personnel and your Progent engineering consultant so any potential problems can be resolved before they have a chance to disrupt your network. Find out more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's Tier III Data Center
    With Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting service, a small or mid-size organization can have its key servers and applications hosted in a protected Tier III data center on a fast virtual machine host configured and managed by Progent's IT support professionals. Under Progent's ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the customer owns the data, the operating system platforms, and the applications. Since the system is virtualized, it can be ported immediately to an alternate hardware solution without a time-consuming and difficult reinstallation procedure. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, your business is not tied a single 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 a cloud-based IT documentation management service that allows you to create, update, find and safeguard information related to your network infrastructure, procedures, business apps, and services. You can quickly find passwords or IP addresses and be warned about upcoming expirations of SSLs or domains. By updating and organizing your IT infrastructure documentation, you can eliminate as much as half of time thrown away searching for critical information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a centralized location for holding and collaborating on all documents related to managing your business network like recommended procedures and self-service instructions. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports advanced automation for gathering and relating IT data. Whether youíre planning improvements, doing regular maintenance, or reacting to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management gets you the knowledge you require when you need it. Find out more about Progent's ProSight IT Asset Management service.
For 24-Hour Southfield Crypto-Ransomware Repair Consulting, call Progent at 800-993-9400 or go to Contact Progent.