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. [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.

ID: T0809
Sub-techniques:  No sub-techniques
Platforms: Control Server, Field Controller/RTU/PLC/IED, Human-Machine Interface
Contributors: Matan Dobrushin - Otorio
Version: 1.0
Created: 21 May 2020
Last Modified: 19 September 2022

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description

INCONTROLLER can wipe the memory of Omron PLCs and reset settings through the remote HTTP service.[2][3][4]

S0604 Industroyer

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. [5]

S0607 KillDisk

KillDisk is able to delete system files to make the system unbootable and targets 35 different types of files for deletion. [6]


ID Mitigation Description
M0953 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. [7]

M0926 Privileged Account Management

Minimize permissions and access for service accounts to limit the information that may be impacted by malicious users or software. [7]

M0922 Restrict File and Directory Permissions

Protect files stored locally with proper permissions to limit opportunities for adversaries to impact data storage. [7]


ID Data Source Data Component Detects
DS0017 Command Command Execution

Monitor executed commands and arguments for binaries that could be involved in data destruction activity, such as SDelete.

DS0022 File File Deletion

Monitor for unexpected deletion of files.

File Modification

Monitor for changes made to a large quantity of files for unexpected modifications in both user directories and directories used to store programs and OS components (e.g., C:\Windows\System32).

DS0009 Process Process Creation

Monitor for newly executed processes of binaries that could be involved in data destruction activity, such as SDelete.