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Data Destruction

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Data Destruction
ID T0809
Tactic Inhibit Response Function
Data Sources Command: Command Execution, File: File Deletion, File: File Modification, Process: Process Creation
External Contributors Matan Dobrushin - Otorio
Asset Control Server, Human-Machine Interface, Field Controller/RTU/PLC/IED


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.1

Data destruction may also be used to render operator interfaces unable to respond and to disrupt response functions from occurring as expected. An adversary may also destroy data backups that are vital to recovery after an incident.

Standard file deletion commands are available on most operating system and device interfaces to perform cleanup, but adversaries may use other tools as well. Two examples are Windows Sysinternals SDelete and Active@ Killdisk.

Procedure Examples

  • Industroyer has a destructive wiper that "overwrites all ICS configuration files across the hard drives and all mapped network drives specifically targeting ABB PCM600 configuration files".2
  • KillDisk is able to delete system files to make the system unbootable and targets 35 different types of files for deletion.3


  • Privileged Account Management - Minimize permissions and access for service accounts to limit the information that may be impacted by malicious users or software.4
  • Data Backup - Utilize central storage servers for critical operations where possible (e.g., historians) and keep remote backups. For outstations, use local redundant storage for event recorders. Have backup control system platforms, preferably as hot-standbys to respond immediately to data destruction events.4