Inhibit System Recovery

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

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] Furthermore, adversaries may disable recovery notifications, then corrupt backups.[3]

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
  • REAgentC.exe can be used to disable Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) repair/recovery options of an infected system

On network devices, adversaries may leverage Disk Wipe to delete backup firmware images and reformat the file system, then System Shutdown/Reboot to reload the device. Together this activity may leave network devices completely inoperable and inhibit recovery operations.

Adversaries may also delete "online" backups that are connected to their network – whether via network storage media or through folders that sync to cloud services.[4] In cloud environments, adversaries may disable versioning and backup policies and delete snapshots, machine images, and prior versions of objects designed to be used in disaster recovery scenarios.[5][6]

ID: T1490
Sub-techniques:  No sub-techniques
Tactic: Impact
Platforms: Containers, IaaS, Linux, Network, Windows, macOS
Impact Type: Availability
Contributors: Austin Clark, @c2defense; Joey Lei; Pallavi Sivakumaran, WithSecure; Yonatan Gotlib, Deep Instinct
Version: 1.3
Created: 02 April 2019
Last Modified: 03 October 2023

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0640 Avaddon

Avaddon deletes backups and shadow copies using native system tools.[7][8]

S0638 Babuk

Babuk has the ability to delete shadow volumes using vssadmin.exe delete shadows /all /quiet.[9][10]

S0570 BitPaymer

BitPaymer attempts to remove the backup shadow files from the host using vssadmin.exe Delete Shadows /All /Quiet.[11]

S1070 Black Basta

Black Basta can delete shadow copies using vssadmin.exe.[12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][19][20]

S1068 BlackCat

BlackCat can delete shadow copies using vssadmin.exe delete shadows /all /quiet and wmic.exe Shadowcopy Delete; it can also modify the boot loader using bcdedit /set {default} recoveryenabled No.[21]

S0611 Clop

Clop can delete the shadow volumes with vssadmin Delete Shadows /all /quiet and can use bcdedit to disable recovery options.[22]

S0608 Conficker

Conficker resets system restore points and deletes backup files.[23]

S0575 Conti

Conti can delete Windows Volume Shadow Copies using vssadmin.[24]

S0673 DarkWatchman

DarkWatchman can delete shadow volumes using vssadmin.exe.[25]


DEATHRANSOM can delete volume shadow copies on compromised hosts.[26]

S0659 Diavol

Diavol can delete shadow copies using the IVssBackupComponents COM object to call the DeleteSnapshots method.[27]


EKANS removes backups of Volume Shadow Copies to disable any restoration capabilities.[28][29]


FIVEHANDS has the ability to delete volume shadow copies on compromised hosts.[26][30]

S0132 H1N1

H1N1 disable recovery options and deletes shadow copies from the victim.[31]


HELLOKITTY can delete volume shadow copies on compromised hosts.[26]

S0697 HermeticWiper

HermeticWiper can disable the VSS service on a compromised host using the service control manager.[32][33][34]

S0260 InvisiMole

InvisiMole can can remove all system restore points.[35]

S0389 JCry

JCry has been observed deleting shadow copies to ensure that data cannot be restored easily.[36]

S0449 Maze

Maze has attempted to delete the shadow volumes of infected machines, once before and once after the encryption process.[37][38]

S0576 MegaCortex

MegaCortex has deleted volume shadow copies using vssadmin.exe.[39]

S0688 Meteor

Meteor can use bcdedit to delete different boot identifiers on a compromised host; it can also use vssadmin.exe delete shadows /all /quiet and C:\\Windows\\system32\\wbem\\wmic.exe shadowcopy delete.[40]

S0457 Netwalker

Netwalker can delete the infected system's Shadow Volumes to prevent recovery.[41][42]

S0365 Olympic Destroyer

Olympic Destroyer uses the native Windows utilities vssadmin, wbadmin, and bcdedit to delete and disable operating system recovery features such as the Windows backup catalog and Windows Automatic Repair.[1]

S1058 Prestige

Prestige can delete the backup catalog from the target system using: c:\Windows\System32\wbadmin.exe delete catalog -quiet and can also delete volume shadow copies using: \Windows\System32\vssadmin.exe delete shadows /all /quiet.[43]

S0654 ProLock

ProLock can use vssadmin.exe to remove volume shadow copies.[44]

S0583 Pysa

Pysa has the functionality to delete shadow copies.[45]

S0481 Ragnar Locker

Ragnar Locker can delete volume shadow copies using vssadmin delete shadows /all /quiet.[46]

S0496 REvil

REvil can use vssadmin to delete volume shadow copies and bcdedit to disable recovery features.[47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55]

S0400 RobbinHood

RobbinHood deletes shadow copies to ensure that all the data cannot be restored easily.[56]

S1073 Royal

Royal can delete shadow copy backups with vssadmin.exe using the command delete shadows /all /quiet.[57][58][59]

S0446 Ryuk

Ryuk has used vssadmin Delete Shadows /all /quiet to to delete volume shadow copies and vssadmin resize shadowstorage to force deletion of shadow copies created by third-party applications.[60]

S0366 WannaCry

WannaCry uses vssadmin, wbadmin, bcdedit, and wmic to delete and disable operating system recovery features.[61][2][62]

S0612 WastedLocker

WastedLocker can delete shadow volumes.[63][64][65]

G0102 Wizard Spider

Wizard Spider has used WMIC and vssadmin to manually delete volume shadow copies. Wizard Spider has also used Conti ransomware to delete volume shadow copies automatically with the use of vssadmin.[66]


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.[67] 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. In cloud environments, enable versioning on storage objects where possible, and copy backups to other accounts or regions to isolate them from the original copies.[68]

M1028 Operating System Configuration

Consider technical controls to prevent the disabling of services or deletion of files involved in system recovery. Additionally, ensure that WinRE is enabled using the following command: reagentc /enable.[69]

M1018 User Account Management

Limit the user accounts that have access to backups to only those required.


ID Data Source Data Component Detects
DS0010 Cloud Storage Cloud Storage Deletion

Monitor for unexpected deletion of a cloud storage objects (ex: AWS delete-object), especially those associated with cloud backups.

DS0017 Command Command Execution

Use process monitoring to monitor the execution and command line parameters of binaries involved in inhibiting system recovery, such as vssadmin, wbadmin, and bcdedit.

DS0022 File File Deletion

The Windows event logs, ex. Event ID 524 indicating a system catalog was deleted, may contain entries associated with suspicious activity.

DS0009 Process Process Creation

Use process monitoring to monitor the execution and command line parameters of binaries involved in inhibiting system recovery, such as vssadmin, wbadmin, and bcdedit. After compromising a network of systems, threat actors often try to delete/resize Shadow Copy in an attempt to prevent administrators from restoring the systems to versions present before the attack. This is often done via vssadmin, a legitimate Windows tool to interact with shadow copies. This action is often employed by ransomware, may lead to a failure in recovering systems after an attack. The pseudo code detection focus on Windows Security and Sysmon process creation (4688 and 1). The use of wmic to delete shadow copy generates WMI-Activity Operationnal 5857 event and could generate 5858 (if the operation fails). These 2 EventIDs could be interesting when attackers use wmic without process creation and/or for forensics.

Analytic 1 - Detecting Shadow Copy Deletion or Resize

deleted_copy = filter processes where ((event_id ="4688" OR event_id ="1") (CommandLine="vssadmin delete shadows" OR CommandLine="wmic shadowcopy delete" OR CommandLine="vssadmin resize shadowstorage")) OR (event_id ="5857" ProviderName="MSVSS__PROVIDER") OR (event_id ="5858" Operation="Win32_ShadowCopy")

Analytic 2 - BCDEdit Failure Recovery Modification

bcdedit_commands = filter processes where ( exe = "C:\Windows\System32\bcdedit.exe" AND command_line="recoveryenabled" )

DS0019 Service Service Metadata

Monitor the status of services involved in system recovery.

Note: For Windows, Event ID 7040 can be used to alert on changes to the start type of a service (e.g., going from enabled at startup to disabled) associated with system recovery.

DS0020 Snapshot Snapshot Deletion

Monitor for unexpected deletion of snapshots (ex: AWS delete-snapshot), especially those associated with cloud backups.

DS0024 Windows Registry Windows Registry Key Modification

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


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