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.[1][2][3][4][5][6] 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.[4][5] In some cases politically oriented image files have been used to overwrite data.[2][3][4]

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.[1][2][3][4][6].

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.[7][8]

ID: T1485
Sub-techniques:  No sub-techniques
Tactic: Impact
Platforms: IaaS, Linux, Windows, macOS
Permissions Required: Administrator, SYSTEM, User, root
Impact Type: Availability
Contributors: Brent Murphy, Elastic; David French, Elastic; Prasad Somasamudram, McAfee; Sekhar Sarukkai, McAfee ; Syed Ummar Farooqh, McAfee; Varonis Threat Labs
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.[9]

S0089 BlackEnergy

BlackEnergy 2 contains a "Destroy" plug-in that destroys data stored on victim hard drives by overwriting file contents.[10][11]

S0693 CaddyWiper

CaddyWiper can work alphabetically through drives on a compromised system to take ownership of and overwrite all files.[12][13]

S0659 Diavol

Diavol can delete specified files from a targeted system.[14]

G0047 Gamaredon Group

Gamaredon Group has used tools to delete files and folders from victims' desktops and profiles.[15]

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.[16]

S0604 Industroyer

Industroyer’s data wiper module clears registry keys and overwrites both ICS configuration and Windows files.[17]

S0265 Kazuar

Kazuar can overwrite files with random data before deleting them.[18]

S0607 KillDisk

KillDisk deletes system files to make the OS unbootable. KillDisk also targets and deletes files with 35 different file extensions.[19]

G0032 Lazarus Group

Lazarus Group has used a custom secure delete function to overwrite file contents with data from heap memory.[20]

S0688 Meteor

Meteor can fill a victim's files and directories with zero-bytes in replacement of real content before deleting them.[21]

S0365 Olympic Destroyer

Olympic Destroyer overwrites files locally and on remote shares.[6][22]

S0139 PowerDuke

PowerDuke has a command to write random data across a file and delete it.[23]

S0238 Proxysvc

Proxysvc can overwrite files indicated by the attacker before deleting them.[24]

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.[3][5]

S0496 REvil

REvil has the capability to destroy files and folders.[25][26][27][27][28][29][30]

G0034 Sandworm Team

Sandworm Team has used the BlackEnergy KillDisk component to overwrite files on Windows-based Human-Machine Interfaces. [31][32]

S0195 SDelete

SDelete deletes data in a way that makes it unrecoverable.[33]

S0140 Shamoon

Shamoon attempts to overwrite operating system files and disk structures with image files.[1][2][3] In a later variant, randomly generated data was used for data overwrites.[5][34]

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.[35][36][37][38][39][40]

S0341 Xbash

Xbash has destroyed Linux-based databases as part of its ransomware capabilities.[41]


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.[42] 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 Detects
DS0010 Cloud Storage Cloud Storage Deletion

Monitor for unexpected deletion of a cloud storage infrastructure, such as the DeleteDBCluster and DeleteGlobalCluster events in AWS, or a high quantity of data deletion events, such as DeleteBucket. Many of these events within a short period of time may indicate malicious activity.

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 to a file (ex: Sysmon EID 23)

File Modification

Monitor for changes made to a large quantity of files for unexpected modifications in user directories and under C:\Windows\System32.

DS0007 Image Image Deletion

Monitor for unexpected deletion of a virtual machine image (ex: Azure Compute Service Images DELETE)

DS0030 Instance Instance Deletion

Monitor for unexpected deletion of an instance (ex: instance.delete within GCP Audit Logs)

DS0009 Process Process Creation

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

DS0020 Snapshot Snapshot Deletion

Monitor for unexpected deletion of a snapshot (ex: AWS delete-snapshot)

DS0034 Volume Volume Deletion

Monitor for unexpected deletion of a cloud volume (ex: AWS delete-volume)


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