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TA0107 Inhibit Response Function

The adversary is trying to prevent your safety, protection, quality assurance, and operator intervention functions from responding to a failure, hazard, or unsafe state.

Inhibit Response Function consists of techniques that adversaries use to hinder the safeguards put in place for processes and products. This may involve the inhibition of safety, protection, quality assurance, or operator intervention functions to disrupt safeguards that aim to prevent the loss of life, destruction of equipment, and disruption of production. These techniques aim to actively deter and prevent expected alarms and responses that arise due to statuses in the ICS environment. Adversaries may modify or update system logic, or even outright prevent responses with a denial-of-service. They may result in the prevention, destruction, manipulation, or modification of programs, logic, devices, and communications. As prevention functions are generally dormant, reporting and processing functions can appear fine, but may have been altered to prevent failure responses in dangerous scenarios. Unlike Evasion, Inhibit Response Function techniques may be more intrusive, such as actively preventing responses to a known dangerous scenario. Adversaries may use these techniques to follow through with or provide cover for Impact techniques.

Item Value
ID TA0107
Created 17 October 2018
Last Modified 08 March 2023

Techniques (14)

ID Name Description
T0800 Activate Firmware Update Mode Adversaries may activate firmware update mode on devices to prevent expected response functions from engaging in reaction to an emergency or process malfunction. For example, devices such as protection relays may have an operation mode designed for firmware installation. This mode may halt process monitoring and related functions to allow new firmware to be loaded. A device left in update mode may be placed in an inactive holding state if no firmware is provided to it. By entering and leaving a device in this mode, the adversary may deny its usual functionalities.
T0878 Alarm Suppression Adversaries may target protection function alarms to prevent them from notifying operators of critical conditions. Alarm messages may be a part of an overall reporting system and of particular interest for adversaries. Disruption of the alarm system does not imply the disruption of the reporting system as a whole.
T0803 Block Command Message Adversaries may block a command message from reaching its intended target to prevent command execution. In OT networks, command messages are sent to provide instructions to control system devices. A blocked command message can inhibit response functions from correcting a disruption or unsafe condition.
T0804 Block Reporting Message Adversaries may block or prevent a reporting message from reaching its intended target. In control systems, reporting messages contain telemetry data (e.g., I/O values) pertaining to the current state of equipment and the industrial process. By blocking these reporting messages, an adversary can potentially hide their actions from an operator.
T0805 Block Serial COM Adversaries may block access to serial COM to prevent instructions or configurations from reaching target devices. Serial Communication ports (COM) allow communication with control system devices. Devices can receive command and configuration messages over such serial COM. Devices also use serial COM to send command and reporting messages. Blocking device serial COM may also block command messages and block reporting messages.
T0892 Change Credential Adversaries may modify software and device credentials to prevent operator and responder access. Depending on the device, the modification or addition of this password could prevent any device configuration actions from being accomplished and may require a factory reset or replacement of hardware. These credentials are often built-in features provided by the device vendors as a means to restrict access to management interfaces.
T0809 Data Destruction Adversaries may perform data destruction over the course of an operation. The adversary may drop or create malware, tools, or other non-native files on a target system to accomplish this, potentially leaving behind traces of malicious activities. Such non-native files and other data may be removed over the course of an intrusion to maintain a small footprint or as a standard part of the post-intrusion cleanup process.
T0814 Denial of Service Adversaries may perform Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks to disrupt expected device functionality. Examples of DoS attacks include overwhelming the target device with a high volume of requests in a short time period and sending the target device a request it does not know how to handle. Disrupting device state may temporarily render it unresponsive, possibly lasting until a reboot can occur. When placed in this state, devices may be unable to send and receive requests, and may not perform expected response functions in reaction to other events in the environment.
T0816 Device Restart/Shutdown Adversaries may forcibly restart or shutdown a device in an ICS environment to disrupt and potentially negatively impact physical processes. Methods of device restart and shutdown exist in some devices as built-in, standard functionalities. These functionalities can be executed using interactive device web interfaces, CLIs, and network protocol commands.
T0835 Manipulate I/O Image Adversaries may manipulate the I/O image of PLCs through various means to prevent them from functioning as expected. Methods of I/O image manipulation may include overriding the I/O table via direct memory manipulation or using the override function used for testing PLC programs. During the scan cycle, a PLC reads the status of all inputs and stores them in an image table. The image table is the PLCs internal storage location where values of inputs/outputs for one scan are stored while it executes the user program. After the PLC has solved the entire logic program, it updates the output image table. The contents of this output image table are written to the corresponding output points in I/O Modules.
T0838 Modify Alarm Settings Adversaries may modify alarm settings to prevent alerts that may inform operators of their presence or to prevent responses to dangerous and unintended scenarios. Reporting messages are a standard part of data acquisition in control systems. Reporting messages are used as a way to transmit system state information and acknowledgements that specific actions have occurred. These messages provide vital information for the management of a physical process, and keep operators, engineers, and administrators aware of the state of system devices and physical processes.
T0851 Rootkit Adversaries may deploy rootkits to hide the presence of programs, files, network connections, services, drivers, and other system components. Rootkits are programs that hide the existence of malware by intercepting and modifying operating-system API calls that supply system information. Rootkits or rootkit-enabling functionality may reside at the user or kernel level in the operating system, or lower.
T0881 Service Stop Adversaries may stop or disable services on a system to render those services unavailable to legitimate users. Stopping critical services can inhibit or stop response to an incident or aid in the adversary’s overall objectives to cause damage to the environment. Services may not allow for modification of their data stores while running. Adversaries may stop services in order to conduct Data Destruction.
T0857 System Firmware System firmware on modern assets is often designed with an update feature. Older device firmware may be factory installed and require special reprograming equipment. When available, the firmware update feature enables vendors to remotely patch bugs and perform upgrades. Device firmware updates are often delegated to the user and may be done using a software update package. It may also be possible to perform this task over the network.