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T1490 Inhibit System Recovery

Adversaries may delete or remove built-in data and turn off services designed to aid in the recovery of a corrupted system to prevent recovery.32 This may deny access to available backups and recovery options.

Operating systems may contain features that can help fix corrupted systems, such as a backup catalog, volume shadow copies, and automatic repair features. Adversaries may disable or delete system recovery features to augment the effects of Data Destruction and Data Encrypted for Impact.32 Furthermore, adversaries may disable recovery notifications, then corrupt backups.6

A number of native Windows utilities have been used by adversaries to disable or delete system recovery features:

  • vssadmin.exe can be used to delete all volume shadow copies on a system - vssadmin.exe delete shadows /all /quiet
  • Windows Management Instrumentation can be used to delete volume shadow copies - wmic shadowcopy delete
  • wbadmin.exe can be used to delete the Windows Backup Catalog - wbadmin.exe delete catalog -quiet
  • bcdedit.exe can be used to disable automatic Windows recovery features by modifying boot configuration data - bcdedit.exe /set {default} bootstatuspolicy ignoreallfailures & bcdedit /set {default} recoveryenabled no
  • REAgentC.exe can be used to disable Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) repair/recovery options of an infected system

On network devices, adversaries may leverage Disk Wipe to delete backup firmware images and reformat the file system, then System Shutdown/Reboot to reload the device. Together this activity may leave network devices completely inoperable and inhibit recovery operations.

Adversaries may also delete “online” backups that are connected to their network – whether via network storage media or through folders that sync to cloud services.5 In cloud environments, adversaries may disable versioning and backup policies and delete snapshots, machine images, and prior versions of objects designed to be used in disaster recovery scenarios.14

Item Value
ID T1490
Tactics TA0040
Platforms IaaS, Linux, Network, Windows, macOS
Version 1.2
Created 02 April 2019
Last Modified 04 May 2023

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0640 Avaddon Avaddon deletes backups and shadow copies using native system tools.3940
S0638 Babuk Babuk has the ability to delete shadow volumes using vssadmin.exe delete shadows /all /quiet.2728
S0570 BitPaymer BitPaymer attempts to remove the backup shadow files from the host using vssadmin.exe Delete Shadows /All /Quiet.38
S1070 Black Basta Black Basta can delete shadow copies using vssadmin.exe.58525450555753565651
S1068 BlackCat BlackCat can delete shadow copies using vssadmin.exe delete shadows /all /quiet and wmic.exe Shadowcopy Delete; it can also modify the boot loader using bcdedit /set {default} recoveryenabled No.15
S0611 Clop Clop can delete the shadow volumes with vssadmin Delete Shadows /all /quiet and can use bcdedit to disable recovery options.23
S0608 Conficker Conficker resets system restore points and deletes backup files.26
S0575 Conti Conti can delete Windows Volume Shadow Copies using vssadmin.18
S0673 DarkWatchman DarkWatchman can delete shadow volumes using vssadmin.exe.20
S0616 DEATHRANSOM DEATHRANSOM can delete volume shadow copies on compromised hosts.10
S0659 Diavol Diavol can delete shadow copies using the IVssBackupComponents COM object to call the DeleteSnapshots method.17
S0605 EKANS EKANS removes backups of Volume Shadow Copies to disable any restoration capabilities.4849
S0618 FIVEHANDS FIVEHANDS has the ability to delete volume shadow copies on compromised hosts.1011
S0132 H1N1 H1N1 disable recovery options and deletes shadow copies from the victim.68
S0617 HELLOKITTY HELLOKITTY can delete volume shadow copies on compromised hosts.10
S0697 HermeticWiper HermeticWiper can disable the VSS service on a compromised host using the service control manager.636261
S0260 InvisiMole InvisiMole can can remove all system restore points.21
S0389 JCry JCry has been observed deleting shadow copies to ensure that data cannot be restored easily.67
S0449 Maze Maze has attempted to delete the shadow volumes of infected machines, once before and once after the encryption process.4142
S0576 MegaCortex MegaCortex has deleted volume shadow copies using vssadmin.exe.12
S0688 Meteor Meteor can use bcdedit to delete different boot identifiers on a compromised host; it can also use vssadmin.exe delete shadows /all /quiet and C:\\Windows\\system32\\wbem\\wmic.exe shadowcopy delete.44
S0457 Netwalker Netwalker can delete the infected system’s Shadow Volumes to prevent recovery.2425
S0365 Olympic Destroyer Olympic Destroyer uses the native Windows utilities vssadmin, wbadmin, and bcdedit to delete and disable operating system recovery features such as the Windows backup catalog and Windows Automatic Repair.3
S1058 Prestige Prestige can delete the backup catalog from the target system using: c:\Windows\System32\wbadmin.exe delete catalog -quiet and can also delete volume shadow copies using: \Windows\System32\vssadmin.exe delete shadows /all /quiet.13
S0654 ProLock ProLock can use vssadmin.exe to remove volume shadow copies.14
S0583 Pysa Pysa has the functionality to delete shadow copies.16
S0481 Ragnar Locker Ragnar Locker can delete volume shadow copies using vssadmin delete shadows /all /quiet.19
S0496 REvil REvil can use vssadmin to delete volume shadow copies and bcdedit to disable recovery features.293031323334353637
S0400 RobbinHood RobbinHood deletes shadow copies to ensure that all the data cannot be restored easily.43
S1073 Royal Royal can delete shadow copy backups with vssadmin.exe using the command delete shadows /all /quiet.464745
S0446 Ryuk Ryuk has used vssadmin Delete Shadows /all /quiet to to delete volume shadow copies and vssadmin resize shadowstorage to force deletion of shadow copies created by third-party applications.22
S0366 WannaCry WannaCry uses vssadmin, wbadmin, bcdedit, and wmic to delete and disable operating system recovery features.59260
S0612 WastedLocker WastedLocker can delete shadow volumes.646566


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.8 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. In cloud environments, enable versioning on storage objects where possible, and copy backups to other accounts or regions to isolate them from the original copies.7
M1028 Operating System Configuration Consider technical controls to prevent the disabling of services or deletion of files involved in system recovery. Additionally, ensure that WinRE is enabled using the following command: reagentc /enable.9
M1018 User Account Management Limit the user accounts that have access to backups to only those required.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0010 Cloud Storage Cloud Storage Deletion
DS0017 Command Command Execution
DS0022 File File Deletion
DS0009 Process Process Creation
DS0019 Service Service Metadata
DS0020 Snapshot Snapshot Deletion
DS0024 Windows Registry Windows Registry Key Modification


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