Adversaries may modify visual content available internally or externally to an enterprise network. Reasons for Defacement include delivering messaging, intimidation, or claiming (possibly false) credit for an intrusion.


An adversary may deface systems internal to an organization in an attempt to intimidate or mislead users. This may take the form of modifications to internal websites, or directly to user systems with the replacement of the desktop wallpaper.[1] Disturbing or offensive images may be used as a part of Defacement in order to cause user discomfort, or to pressure compliance with accompanying messages. While internally defacing systems exposes an adversary's presence, it often takes place after other intrusion goals have been accomplished.[2]


Websites are a common victim of defacement; often targeted by adversary and hacktivist groups in order to push a political message or spread propaganda.[3][4][5] Defacement may be used as a catalyst to trigger events, or as a response to actions taken by an organization or government. Similarly, website defacement may also be used as setup, or a precursor, for future attacks such as Drive-by Compromise.[6]

ID: T1491

Tactic: Impact

Platform:  Linux, macOS, Windows

Data Sources:  Packet capture, Web application firewall logs, Web logs, Packet capture

Impact Type:  Integrity

Version: 1.0


Implementing best practices for websites such as defending against Exploit Public-Facing Application [7]. Consider implementing IT disaster recovery plans that contain procedures for taking regular data backups that can be used to restore organizational data. ( IT DRP) 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.


Monitor internal and external websites for unplanned content changes. Monitor application logs for abnormal behavior that may indicate attempted or successful exploitation. Use deep packet inspection to look for artifacts of common exploit traffic, such as SQL injection. Web Application Firewalls may detect improper inputs attempting exploitation.