Data Destruction

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Data Destruction
ID T809
Tactic Inhibit Response Function
Data Sources File monitoring, Process command-line parameters, Process monitoring
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


  • Password authentication can be used as a barrier to Data Destruction, in addition to restricting user account file access according to the principle of least privilege. The default for newly created accounts should be minimal, to reduce adversary movement capabilities.4
  • Best password practices, and the implementation of multi-factor authentication can also add security, particularly if data in the environment has a high risk of interception or may be sent in plaintext.4
  • Restrict access to control room(s), portable devices, and removable media, which should be locked down and physically secured. Unauthorized and suspicious media should be avoided and kept away from systems and the network. Keep track of cables, to ensure that the ICS and IT environments remain separate and no interceptive, adversarial devices are installed.4
  • Take note of suspicious files and run antivirus and malware detecting solutions to assist in catching malicious programs that can result in Data Destruction.4
  • Identify unnecessary system utilities, third-party tools, or potentially malicious software that may be used to delete files, and audit and/or block them by using whitelisting5 tools like AppLocker67 or Software Restriction Policies8 where appropriate.9