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T1485 Data Destruction

Adversaries may destroy data and files on specific systems or in large numbers on a network to interrupt availability to systems, services, and network resources. Data destruction is likely to render stored data irrecoverable by forensic techniques through overwriting files or data on local and remote drives.123456 Common operating system file deletion commands such as del and rm often only remove pointers to files without wiping the contents of the files themselves, making the files recoverable by proper forensic methodology. This behavior is distinct from Disk Content Wipe and Disk Structure Wipe because individual files are destroyed rather than sections of a storage disk or the disk’s logical structure.

Adversaries may attempt to overwrite files and directories with randomly generated data to make it irrecoverable.45 In some cases politically oriented image files have been used to overwrite data.234

To maximize impact on the target organization in operations where network-wide availability interruption is the goal, malware designed for destroying data may have worm-like features to propagate across a network by leveraging additional techniques like Valid Accounts, OS Credential Dumping, and SMB/Windows Admin Shares.12346.

In cloud environments, adversaries may leverage access to delete cloud storage, cloud storage accounts, machine images, and other infrastructure crucial to operations to damage an organization or their customers.78

Item Value
ID T1485
Tactics TA0040
Platforms IaaS, Linux, Windows, macOS
Permissions required Administrator, SYSTEM, User, root
Version 1.1
Created 14 March 2019
Last Modified 25 March 2021

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
G0082 APT38 APT38 has used a custom secure delete function to make deleted files unrecoverable.39
S0089 BlackEnergy BlackEnergy 2 contains a “Destroy” plug-in that destroys data stored on victim hard drives by overwriting file contents.1920
S0693 CaddyWiper CaddyWiper can work alphabetically through drives on a compromised system to take ownership of and overwrite all files.1516
S0659 Diavol Diavol can delete specified files from a targeted system.27
G0047 Gamaredon Group Gamaredon Group has used tools to delete files and folders from victims’ desktops and profiles.38
S0697 HermeticWiper HermeticWiper can recursively wipe folders and files in Windows, Program Files, Program Files(x86), PerfLogs, Boot, System, Volume Information, and AppData folders using FSCTL_MOVE_FILE. HermeticWiper can also overwrite symbolic links and big files in My Documents and on the Desktop with random bytes.30
S0604 Industroyer Industroyer’s data wiper module clears registry keys and overwrites both ICS configuration and Windows files.31
S0265 Kazuar Kazuar can overwrite files with random data before deleting them.13
S0607 KillDisk KillDisk deletes system files to make the OS unbootable. KillDisk also targets and deletes files with 35 different file extensions.12
G1004 LAPSUS$ LAPSUS$ has deleted the target’s systems and resources both on-premises and in the cloud.42
G0032 Lazarus Group Lazarus Group has used a custom secure delete function to overwrite file contents with data from heap memory.43
S0688 Meteor Meteor can fill a victim’s files and directories with zero-bytes in replacement of real content before deleting them.28
S0365 Olympic Destroyer Olympic Destroyer overwrites files locally and on remote shares.614
S0139 PowerDuke PowerDuke has a command to write random data across a file and delete it.29
S0238 Proxysvc Proxysvc can overwrite files indicated by the attacker before deleting them.17
S0364 RawDisk RawDisk was used in Shamoon to write to protected system locations such as the MBR and disk partitions in an effort to destroy data.35
S0496 REvil REvil has the capability to destroy files and folders.21222323242526
G0034 Sandworm Team Sandworm Team has used the BlackEnergy KillDisk component to overwrite files on Windows-based Human-Machine Interfaces. 4041
S0195 SDelete SDelete deletes data in a way that makes it unrecoverable.10
S0140 Shamoon Shamoon attempts to overwrite operating system files and disk structures with image files.123 In a later variant, randomly generated data was used for data overwrites.518
S0380 StoneDrill StoneDrill has a disk wiper module that targets files other than those in the Windows directory.4
S0689 WhisperGate WhisperGate can corrupt files by overwriting the first 1 MB with 0xcc and appending random extensions.363334353237
S0341 Xbash Xbash has destroyed Linux-based databases as part of its ransomware capabilities.11


ID Mitigation Description
M1053 Data Backup Consider implementing IT disaster recovery plans that contain procedures for taking regular data backups that can be used to restore organizational data.9 Ensure backups are stored off system and is protected from common methods adversaries may use to gain access and destroy the backups to prevent recovery.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0010 Cloud Storage Cloud Storage Deletion
DS0017 Command Command Execution
DS0022 File File Deletion
DS0007 Image Image Deletion
DS0030 Instance Instance Deletion
DS0009 Process Process Creation
DS0020 Snapshot Snapshot Deletion
DS0034 Volume Volume Deletion


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