Inhibit System Recovery

Adversaries may delete or remove built-in operating system data and turn off services designed to aid in the recovery of a corrupted system to prevent recovery.[1][2] 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.[1][2]

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
ID: T1490

Tactic: Impact

Platform:  Windows, macOS, Linux

Permissions Required:  Administrator, root, SYSTEM, User

Data Sources:  Windows Registry, Services, Windows event logs, Process command-line parameters, Process monitoring

Impact Type:  Availability

Contributors:  Yonatan Gotlib, Deep Instinct

Version: 1.0

Examples

NameDescription
H1N1

H1N1 disable recovery options and deletes shadow copies from the victim.[3]

Olympic Destroyer

Olympic Destroyer uses the native Windows utilities vssadmin, wbadmin, and bcdedit to delete and disable operating system recovery features.[1]

WannaCry

WannaCry uses vssadmin, wbadmin, bcdedit, and wmic to delete and disable operating system recovery features.[4][2][5]

Mitigation

Consider technical controls to prevent the disabling of services or deletion of files involved in system recovery.

Consider implementing IT disaster recovery plans that contain procedures for taking regular data backups that can be used to restore organizational data.[6] 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.

Identify potentially malicious software and audit and/or block it by using whitelisting[7] tools, like AppLocker,[8][9] or Software Restriction Policies[10] where appropriate.[11]

Detection

Use process monitoring to monitor the execution and command line parameters of binaries involved in inhibiting system recovery, such as vssadmin, wbadmin, and bcdedit. The Windows event logs, ex. Event ID 524 indicating a system catalog was deleted, may contain entries associated with suspicious activity.

Monitor the status of services involved in system recovery. Monitor the registry for changes associated with system recovery features (ex: the creation of HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\PreviousVersions\DisableLocalPage).

References