Crypto-Ransomware : Your Crippling Information Technology Nightmare
Crypto-Ransomware  Recovery ExpertsCrypto-Ransomware has become an escalating cyberplague that presents an existential threat for businesses vulnerable to an assault. Versions of crypto-ransomware like the Reveton, WannaCry, Locky, SamSam and MongoLock cryptoworms have been replicating for many years and continue to inflict harm. Modern versions of ransomware such as Ryuk, Maze, Sodinokibi, DopplePaymer, Snatch or Egregor, plus additional as yet unnamed newcomers, not only do encryption of online data files but also infiltrate most accessible system backup. Data synched to off-site disaster recovery sites can also be corrupted. In a poorly designed environment, it can make automatic recovery hopeless and effectively knocks the network back to square one.

Getting back online services and data after a ransomware outage becomes a sprint against time as the victim tries its best to stop the spread and eradicate the virus and to resume mission-critical activity. Due to the fact that ransomware takes time to spread, assaults are usually sprung during nights and weekends, when attacks may take longer to uncover. This compounds the difficulty of quickly marshalling and coordinating a capable response team.

Progent has a variety of services for protecting businesses from crypto-ransomware events. Among these are team training to help recognize and avoid phishing scams, ProSight Active Security Monitoring (ASM) for remote monitoring and management, along with setup and configuration of modern security appliances with AI capabilities from SentinelOne to discover and extinguish new cyber attacks rapidly. Progent also can provide the services of expert crypto-ransomware recovery professionals with the skills and perseverance to re-deploy a compromised system as soon as possible.

Progent's Ransomware Restoration Support Services
Following a ransomware penetration, sending the ransom in Bitcoin cryptocurrency does not ensure that distant criminals will return the codes to decrypt any of your data. Kaspersky Labs determined that 17% of ransomware victims never recovered their data even after having sent off the ransom, resulting in additional losses. The risk is also expensive. Ryuk ransoms commonly range from fifteen to forty BTC ($120,000 and $400,000). This is greatly higher than the average ransomware demands, which ZDNET averages to be approximately $13,000. The other path is to re-install the essential parts of your Information Technology environment. Absent the availability of complete data backups, this requires a broad complement of skill sets, top notch team management, and the ability to work non-stop until the task is completed.

For two decades, Progent has offered expert IT services for companies in Toronto and throughout the United States and has earned Microsoft's Gold Partnership certification status in the Datacenter and Cloud Productivity competencies. Progent's team of subject matter experts (SMEs) includes consultants who have earned top industry certifications in important technologies like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and popular distributions of Linux. Progent's cybersecurity consultants have earned internationally-recognized industry certifications including CISA, CISSP, ISACA CRISC, and GIAC. (Visit Progent's certifications). Progent also has experience in financial management and ERP software solutions. This breadth of expertise provides Progent the capability to rapidly determine important systems and integrate the remaining pieces of your network system after a ransomware event and assemble them into an operational network.

Progent's security group uses state-of-the-art project management tools to orchestrate the complicated restoration process. Progent appreciates the urgency of acting rapidly and in unison with a customer's management and IT staff to assign priority to tasks and to get the most important applications back on line as soon as humanly possible.

Case Study: A Successful Ransomware Penetration Restoration
A client escalated to Progent after their company was brought down by Ryuk crypto-ransomware. Ryuk is thought to have been created by North Korean state criminal gangs, possibly using algorithms exposed from America's NSA organization. Ryuk seeks specific companies with little tolerance for operational disruption and is among the most profitable versions of ransomware. Headline organizations include Data Resolution, a California-based information warehousing and cloud computing company, and the Chicago Tribune. Progent's customer is a small manufacturing company based in Chicago with around 500 employees. The Ryuk intrusion had brought down all essential operations and manufacturing processes. The majority of the client's data protection had been directly accessible at the start of the intrusion and were damaged. The client considered paying the ransom (more than $200K) and wishfully thinking for the best, but ultimately made the decision to use Progent.


"I cannot say enough about the expertise Progent gave us throughout the most fearful time of (our) company's life. We most likely would have paid the cyber criminals if not for the confidence the Progent group gave us. That you could get our e-mail system and critical servers back online quicker than one week was amazing. Each expert I spoke to or e-mailed at Progent was urgently focused on getting us back on-line and was working 24 by 7 on our behalf."

Progent worked together with the client to quickly identify and prioritize the mission critical systems that had to be recovered in order to restart departmental operations:

  • Active Directory (AD)
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • MRP System
To start, Progent followed Anti-virus incident response best practices by stopping the spread and cleaning up infected systems. Progent then began the task of bringing back online Active Directory, the key technology of enterprise systems built upon Microsoft Windows Server technology. Microsoft Exchange Server messaging will not function without Windows AD, and the businesses' accounting and MRP applications leveraged SQL Server, which needs Windows AD for access to the databases.

Within 48 hours, Progent was able to recover Active Directory to its pre-attack state. Progent then assisted with reinstallations and hard drive recovery of needed applications. All Microsoft Exchange Server ties and configuration information were intact, which greatly helped the rebuild of Exchange. Progent was also able to collect intact OST data files (Microsoft Outlook Off-Line Data Files) on team desktop computers and laptops to recover email data. A not too old off-line backup of the customer's financials/ERP software made it possible to restore these required programs back on-line. Although a large amount of work still had to be done to recover completely from the Ryuk virus, critical services were recovered rapidly:


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

Over the following month key milestones in the restoration project were completed through close cooperation between Progent engineers and the client:

  • Internal web sites were returned to operation without losing any data.
  • The MailStore Server containing more than 4 million archived messages was spun up and accessible to users.
  • CRM/Orders/Invoices/Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivables/Inventory modules were 100 percent functional.
  • A new Palo Alto 850 security appliance was installed.
  • Most of the desktop computers were operational.

"Much of what occurred during the initial response is nearly entirely a fog for me, but my team will not forget the care all of you accomplished to give us our business back. I've utilized Progent for at least 10 years, maybe more, and each time Progent has impressed me and delivered. This event was the most impressive ever."

Conclusion
A possible business catastrophe was evaded through the efforts of results-oriented experts, a broad spectrum of IT skills, and tight collaboration. Although in hindsight the ransomware virus incident detailed here would have been prevented with up-to-date cyber security systems and NIST Cybersecurity Framework or ISO/IEC 27001 best practices, team training, and properly executed security procedures for information protection and applying software patches, the fact is that government-sponsored cyber criminals from Russia, China and elsewhere are relentless and are an ongoing threat. If you do get hit by a crypto-ransomware penetration, remember that Progent's roster of professionals has proven experience in ransomware virus defense, mitigation, and information systems restoration.


"So, to Darrin, Matt, Dan, Claude, Jesse, Arnaud, Allen, Tony and Chris (along with others that were involved), thank you for allowing me to get some sleep after we got past the initial fire. Everyone did an impressive job, and if anyone that helped is around the Chicago area, dinner is my treat!"

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

Additional Ransomware Protection Services Offered by Progent
Progent can provide businesses in Toronto a range of remote monitoring and security assessment services to help you to reduce the threat from crypto-ransomware. These services utilize next-generation machine learning technology to uncover new strains of ransomware that can 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 incorporates SentinelOne's cutting edge behavior machine learning tools to guard physical and virtual endpoint devices against new malware attacks like ransomware and file-less exploits, which easily escape traditional signature-based anti-virus tools. ProSight ASM protects on-premises and cloud-based resources and offers a single platform to manage the entire threat progression including filtering, infiltration detection, mitigation, remediation, and forensics. Key features include single-click rollback using Windows VSS and automatic system-wide immunization against newly discovered attacks. Progent is a SentinelOne Partner, dealer, and integrator. Find out more about Progent's ProSight Active Security Monitoring next-generation endpoint protection and ransomware recovery.

  • ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP): Endpoint Protection and Microsoft Exchange Email Filtering
    ProSight Enhanced Security Protection (ESP) managed services offer economical in-depth protection for physical servers and VMs, workstations, mobile devices, and Microsoft Exchange. ProSight ESP uses contextual security and modern behavior analysis for continuously monitoring and reacting to security threats from all vectors. ProSight ESP delivers two-way firewall protection, penetration alerts, endpoint management, and web filtering via leading-edge tools packaged within one agent managed from a single console. Progent's data protection and virtualization consultants can assist you to plan and implement a ProSight ESP deployment that meets your company's specific requirements and that allows you achieve and demonstrate compliance with government and industry data protection regulations. Progent will help you define and configure security policies that ProSight ESP will manage, and Progent will monitor your IT environment and react to alerts that require immediate attention. Progent can also assist you to set up and test a backup and restore solution like ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS) so you can recover quickly from a potentially disastrous security attack like ransomware. Learn 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 Disaster Recovery Services
    Progent has worked with advanced backup/restore technology companies to create ProSight Data Protection Services (DPS), a family of management outsourcing plans that deliver backup-as-a-service (BaaS). ProSight DPS products manage and monitor your data backup operations and allow non-disruptive backup and fast restoration of critical files, apps, system images, plus Hyper-V and VMware virtual machines. ProSight DPS helps you protect against data loss resulting from hardware breakdown, natural calamities, fire, malware such as ransomware, human error, malicious employees, or application bugs. Managed services available in the ProSight Data Protection Services product family include ProSight DPS Altaro VM Backup, ProSight 365 Total Backup (formerly Altaro 365 Backup), ProSight DPS ECHO Backup based on Barracuda dedicated hardware, and ProSight DPS MSP360 Hybrid Backup. Your Progent service representative can help you to identify which of these managed backup services are best suited for your IT environment.

  • 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 information security vendors to provide centralized 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 gateway device to provide complete defense against spam, viruses, Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, Directory Harvest Attacks, and other email-based malware. The cloud filter serves as a first line of defense and blocks the vast majority of unwanted email from making it to your network firewall. This decreases your vulnerability to inbound attacks and conserves network bandwidth and storage space. Email Guard's onsite gateway device provides a deeper layer of inspection for inbound email. For outbound email, the onsite security gateway provides anti-virus and anti-spam filtering, policy-based Data Loss Prevention, and email encryption. The local gateway can also assist Exchange Server to track and protect internal email that stays within your security perimeter. For more details, see ProSight Email Guard spam filtering and data leakage protection.

  • ProSight WAN Watch: Network Infrastructure Remote Monitoring and Management
    Progent's ProSight WAN Watch is an infrastructure management service that makes it easy and inexpensive for smaller businesses to diagram, monitor, optimize and debug their networking hardware like routers, firewalls, and access points plus servers, printers, endpoints and other networked devices. Using state-of-the-art Remote Monitoring and Management technology, ProSight WAN Watch makes sure that network diagrams are kept updated, captures and manages the configuration of almost all devices on your network, tracks performance, and generates alerts when problems are detected. By automating complex management and troubleshooting processes, WAN Watch can knock hours off ordinary chores like making network diagrams, expanding your network, locating appliances that require important software patches, or resolving performance bottlenecks. Find out more about ProSight WAN Watch infrastructure monitoring and management services.

  • ProSight LAN Watch: Server and Desktop Monitoring and Management
    ProSight LAN Watch is Progent's server and desktop remote monitoring service that incorporates state-of-the-art remote monitoring and management technology to keep your IT system operating at peak levels by checking the health of critical computers that drive your information system. When ProSight LAN Watch uncovers an issue, an alert is transmitted immediately to your designated IT personnel and your Progent consultant so all looming issues can be addressed before they can impact productivity. Find out more about ProSight LAN Watch server and desktop remote monitoring services.

  • ProSight Virtual Hosting: Hosted VMs at Progent's World-class 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 secure Tier III data center on a high-performance virtual host set up and managed by Progent's IT support professionals. Under the ProSight Virtual Hosting model, the client retains ownership of the data, the operating system software, and the apps. Since the system is virtualized, it can be moved immediately to an alternate hosting environment without requiring a lengthy and difficult configuration process. With ProSight Virtual Hosting, you are not locked into a single hosting service. Find out 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 create, update, retrieve and protect data about your network infrastructure, procedures, business apps, and services. You can instantly locate passwords or serial numbers and be alerted automatically about impending expirations of SSLs ,domains or warranties. By updating and organizing your IT infrastructure documentation, you can save up to half of time wasted searching for critical information about your IT network. ProSight IT Asset Management features a common location for holding and sharing all documents required for managing your network infrastructure like standard operating procedures and How-To's. ProSight IT Asset Management also supports a high level of automation for collecting and relating IT data. Whether you're planning improvements, doing regular maintenance, or reacting to a crisis, ProSight IT Asset Management delivers the data you need when you need it. Learn more about ProSight IT Asset Management service.

  • Progent Active Protection Against Ransomware: Machine Learning-based Ransomware Detection and Cleanup
    Progent's Active Protection Against Ransomware is an endpoint protection (EPP) solution that incorporates cutting edge behavior machine learning technology to defend endpoint devices and physical and virtual servers against new malware assaults such as ransomware and email phishing, which routinely evade legacy signature-matching AV tools. Progent ASM services safeguard on-premises and cloud resources and offers a single platform to automate the entire malware attack progression including filtering, identification, mitigation, remediation, and post-attack forensics. Top features include single-click rollback with Windows VSS and automatic system-wide immunization against newly discovered attacks. Learn more about Progent's ransomware defense and recovery services.

  • Progent's Outsourced/Shared Call Desk: Help Desk Managed Services
    Progent's Support Center managed services enable your information technology staff to outsource Support Desk services to Progent or divide activity for Service Desk support seamlessly between your internal network support staff and Progent's nationwide roster of certified IT service technicians, engineers and subject matter experts. Progent's Shared Help Desk Service offers a smooth supplement to your internal IT support team. User access to the Help Desk, provision of technical assistance, problem escalation, ticket creation and tracking, efficiency measurement, and management of the service database are consistent regardless of whether issues are taken care of by your corporate IT support resources, by Progent's team, or a mix of the two. Learn more about Progent's outsourced/co-managed Call Center services.

  • Progent's Patch Management: Patch Management Services
    Progent's managed services for software and firmware patch management provide businesses of all sizes a versatile and cost-effective solution for evaluating, validating, scheduling, implementing, and tracking software and firmware updates to your dynamic IT network. In addition to optimizing the security and reliability of your IT network, Progent's patch management services free up time for your in-house IT team to focus on more strategic projects and tasks that derive the highest business value from your information network. Find out more about Progent's software/firmware update management support services.

  • ProSight Duo Multi-Factor Authentication: Identity Validation, Endpoint Policy Enforcement, and Secure Single Sign-on
    Progent's Duo authentication managed services incorporate Cisco's Duo cloud technology to defend against compromised passwords through the use of two-factor authentication. Duo enables single-tap identity verification with Apple iOS, Android, and other out-of-band devices. Using Duo 2FA, whenever you sign into a protected online account and enter your password you are requested to verify who you are on a unit that only you have and that uses a different ("out-of-band") network channel. A broad selection of devices can be used as this added form of authentication including an iPhone or Android or watch, a hardware token, a landline telephone, etc. You may register several verification devices. For details about Duo identity validation services, go to Duo MFA two-factor authentication (2FA) services for access security.
For 24/7 Toronto Crypto Repair Consultants, reach out to Progent at 800-462-8800 or go to Contact Progent.