Impair Defenses: Disable or Modify Tools

Adversaries may modify and/or disable security tools to avoid possible detection of their malware/tools and activities. This may take many forms, such as killing security software processes or services, modifying / deleting Registry keys or configuration files so that tools do not operate properly, or other methods to interfere with security tools scanning or reporting information. Adversaries may also disable updates to prevent the latest security patches from reaching tools on victim systems.[1]

Adversaries may also tamper with artifacts deployed and utilized by security tools. Security tools may make dynamic changes to system components in order to maintain visibility into specific events. For example, security products may load their own modules and/or modify those loaded by processes to facilitate data collection. Similar to Indicator Blocking, adversaries may unhook or otherwise modify these features added by tools (especially those that exist in userland or are otherwise potentially accessible to adversaries) to avoid detection.[2][3]

Adversaries may also focus on specific applications such as Sysmon. For example, the "Start" and "Enable" values in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\WMI\Autologger\EventLog-Microsoft-Windows-Sysmon-Operational may be modified to tamper with and potentially disable Sysmon logging.[4]

On network devices, adversaries may attempt to skip digital signature verification checks by altering startup configuration files and effectively disabling firmware verification that typically occurs at boot.[5][6]

In cloud environments, tools disabled by adversaries may include cloud monitoring agents that report back to services such as AWS CloudWatch or Google Cloud Monitor.

Furthermore, although defensive tools may have anti-tampering mechanisms, adversaries may abuse tools such as legitimate rootkit removal kits to impair and/or disable these tools.[7][8][9][10] For example, adversaries have used tools such as GMER to find and shut down hidden processes and antivirus software on infected systems.[9]

Additionally, adversaries may exploit legitimate drivers from anti-virus software to gain access to kernel space (i.e. Exploitation for Privilege Escalation), which may lead to bypassing anti-tampering features.[11]

ID: T1562.001
Sub-technique of:  T1562
Tactic: Defense Evasion
Platforms: Containers, IaaS, Linux, Network, Windows, macOS
Defense Bypassed: Anti-virus, File monitoring, Host intrusion prevention systems, Log analysis, Signature-based detection
Contributors: Alex Soler, AttackIQ; Cian Heasley; Daniel Feichter, @VirtualAllocEx, Infosec Tirol; Gal Singer, @galsinger29, Team Nautilus Aqua Security; Gordon Long, Box, Inc., @ethicalhax; Lucas Heiligenstein; Nathaniel Quist, Palo Alto Networks; Sarathkumar Rajendran, Microsoft Defender365; Ziv Karliner, @ziv_kr, Team Nautilus Aqua Security
Version: 1.5
Created: 21 February 2020
Last Modified: 12 April 2024

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
C0028 2015 Ukraine Electric Power Attack

During the 2015 Ukraine Electric Power Attack, Sandworm Team modified in-registry internet settings to lower internet security. [12]

S0331 Agent Tesla

Agent Tesla has the capability to kill any running analysis processes and AV software.[13]

G0143 Aquatic Panda

Aquatic Panda has attempted to stop endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools on compromised systems.[14]

S0640 Avaddon

Avaddon looks for and attempts to stop anti-malware solutions.[15]

S0638 Babuk

Babuk can stop anti-virus services on a compromised host.[16]

S0534 Bazar

Bazar has manually loaded ntdll from disk in order to identity and remove API hooks set by security products.[17]

S0252 Brave Prince

Brave Prince terminates antimalware processes.[18]


BRONZE BUTLER has incorporated code into several tools that attempts to terminate anti-virus processes.[19]

S0482 Bundlore

Bundlore can change browser security settings to enable extensions to be installed. Bundlore uses the pkill cfprefsd command to prevent users from inspecting processes.[20][21]

S0484 Carberp

Carberp has attempted to disable security software by creating a suspended process for the security software and injecting code to delete antivirus core files when the process is resumed.[22]

S0144 ChChes

ChChes can alter the victim's proxy configuration.[23]

S0611 Clop

Clop can uninstall or disable security products.[24]

S0154 Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike has the ability to use Smart Applet attacks to disable the Java SecurityManager sandbox.[25][26]

S0608 Conficker

Conficker terminates various services related to system security and Windows.[27]

C0029 Cutting Edge

During Cutting Edge, threat actors disabled logging and modified the compcheckresult.cgi component to edit the Ivanti Connect Secure built-in Integrity Checker exclusion list to evade detection.[28][29]

S0334 DarkComet

DarkComet can disable Security Center functions like anti-virus.[30][31]

S1111 DarkGate

DarkGate will terminate processes associated with several security software products if identified during execution.[32]

S0659 Diavol

Diavol can attempt to stop security software.[33]

S0695 Donut

Donut can patch Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI), Windows Lockdown Policy (WLDP), as well as exit-related Native API functions to avoid process termination.[34]

S0377 Ebury

Ebury can disable SELinux Role-Based Access Control and deactivate PAM modules.[35]

S0554 Egregor

Egregor has disabled Windows Defender to evade protections.[36]


EKANS stops processes related to security and management software.[37][38]

G1003 Ember Bear

Ember Bear has executed a batch script designed to disable Windows Defender on a compromised host.[39]

G0037 FIN6

FIN6 has deployed a utility script named kill.bat to disable anti-virus.[40]

G0047 Gamaredon Group

Gamaredon Group has delivered macros which can tamper with Microsoft Office security settings.[41]

S0249 Gold Dragon

Gold Dragon terminates anti-malware processes if they’re found running on the system.[18]

S0477 Goopy

Goopy has the ability to disable Microsoft Outlook's security policies to disable macro warnings.[42]

G0078 Gorgon Group

Gorgon Group malware can attempt to disable security features in Microsoft Office and Windows Defender using the taskkill command.[43]

S0531 Grandoreiro

Grandoreiro can hook APIs, kill processes, break file system paths, and change ACLs to prevent security tools from running.[44]

S0132 H1N1

H1N1 kills and disables services for Windows Security Center, and Windows Defender.[45]

S0061 HDoor

HDoor kills anti-virus found on the victim.[46]

S0601 Hildegard

Hildegard has modified DNS resolvers to evade DNS monitoring tools.[47]

S0434 Imminent Monitor

Imminent Monitor has a feature to disable Windows Task Manager.[48]

G0119 Indrik Spider

Indrik Spider used PsExec to leverage Windows Defender to disable scanning of all downloaded files and to restrict real-time monitoring.[49]

S0201 JPIN

JPIN can lower security settings by changing Registry keys.[50]

G0094 Kimsuky

Kimsuky has been observed turning off Windows Security Center and can hide the AV software window from the view of the infected user.[51][52]


KOCTOPUS will attempt to delete or disable all Registry keys and scheduled tasks related to Microsoft Security Defender and Security Essentials.[53]

G0032 Lazarus Group

Lazarus Group malware TangoDelta attempts to terminate various processes associated with McAfee. Additionally, Lazarus Group malware SHARPKNOT disables the Microsoft Windows System Event Notification and Alerter services.[54][55][56][57].

S0372 LockerGoga

LockerGoga installation has been immediately preceded by a "task kill" command in order to disable anti-virus.[58]

S1048 macOS.OSAMiner

macOS.OSAMiner has searched for the Activity Monitor process in the System Events process list and kills the process if running. macOS.OSAMiner also searches the operating system's install.log for apps matching its hardcoded list, killing all matching process names.[59]

G0059 Magic Hound

Magic Hound has disabled antivirus services on targeted systems in order to upload malicious payloads.[60]

S0449 Maze

Maze has disabled dynamic analysis and other security tools including IDA debugger, x32dbg, and OllyDbg.[61] It has also disabled Windows Defender's Real-Time Monitoring feature and attempted to disable endpoint protection services.[62]

S0576 MegaCortex

MegaCortex was used to kill endpoint security processes.[63]

S0455 Metamorfo

Metamorfo has a function to kill processes associated with defenses and can prevent certain processes from launching.[64][65]

S0688 Meteor

Meteor can attempt to uninstall Kaspersky Antivirus or remove the Kaspersky license; it can also add all files and folders related to the attack to the Windows Defender exclusion list.[66]

G0069 MuddyWater

MuddyWater can disable the system's local proxy settings.[67]

S0228 NanHaiShu

NanHaiShu can change Internet Explorer settings to reduce warnings about malware activity.[68]

S0336 NanoCore

NanoCore can modify the victim's anti-virus.[69][70]

S0457 Netwalker

Netwalker can detect and terminate active security software-related processes on infected systems.[71][72]

C0002 Night Dragon

During Night Dragon, threat actors disabled anti-virus and anti-spyware tools in some instances on the victim’s machines. The actors also disabled proxy settings to allow direct communication from victims to the Internet.[73]


POWERSTATS can disable Microsoft Office Protected View by changing Registry keys.[74]

S0279 Proton

Proton kills security tools like Wireshark that are running.[75]

G0024 Putter Panda

Malware used by Putter Panda attempts to terminate processes corresponding to two components of Sophos Anti-Virus (SAVAdminService.exe and SavService.exe).[76]

S0583 Pysa

Pysa has the capability to stop antivirus services and disable Windows Defender.[77]

S0650 QakBot

QakBot has the ability to modify the Registry to add its binaries to the Windows Defender exclusion list.[78]

S0481 Ragnar Locker

Ragnar Locker has attempted to terminate/stop processes and services associated with endpoint security products.[79]

S0496 REvil

REvil can connect to and disable the Symantec server on the victim's network.[80]

S0400 RobbinHood

RobbinHood will search for Windows services that are associated with antivirus software on the system and kill the process.[81]

G0106 Rocke

Rocke used scripts which detected and uninstalled antivirus software.[82][83]

S0253 RunningRAT

RunningRAT kills antimalware running process.[18]

S0446 Ryuk

Ryuk has stopped services related to anti-virus.[84]


SILENTTRINITY's module can disable Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI) functions.[85]

S0468 Skidmap

Skidmap has the ability to set SELinux to permissive mode.[86]

C0024 SolarWinds Compromise

During the SolarWinds Compromise, APT29 used the service control manager on a remote system to disable services associated with security monitoring products.[87]

S0058 SslMM

SslMM identifies and kills anti-malware processes.[46]

S0491 StrongPity

StrongPity can add directories used by the malware to the Windows Defender exclusions list to prevent detection.[88]


SUNBURST attempted to disable software security services following checks against a FNV-1a + XOR hashed hardcoded blocklist.[89]

G1018 TA2541

TA2541 has attempted to disable built-in security protections such as Windows AMSI. [90]

G0092 TA505

TA505 has used malware to disable Windows Defender.[91]

G0139 TeamTNT

TeamTNT has disabled and uninstalled security tools such as Alibaba, Tencent, and BMC cloud monitoring agents on cloud-based infrastructure.[92][93]

S0595 ThiefQuest

ThiefQuest uses the function kill_unwanted to obtain a list of running processes and kills each process matching a list of security related processes.[94]

S0004 TinyZBot

TinyZBot can disable Avira anti-virus.[95]

S0266 TrickBot

TrickBot can disable Windows Defender.[96]

G0010 Turla

Turla has used a AMSI bypass, which patches the in-memory amsi.dll, in PowerShell scripts to bypass Windows antimalware products.[97]

S0130 Unknown Logger

Unknown Logger has functionality to disable security tools, including Kaspersky, BitDefender, and MalwareBytes.[98]

S0670 WarzoneRAT

WarzoneRAT can disarm Windows Defender during the UAC process to evade detection.[99]

S0689 WhisperGate

WhisperGate can download and execute AdvancedRun.exe to disable the Windows Defender Theat Protection service and set an exclusion path for the C:\ drive.[100][101][102]

G0102 Wizard Spider

Wizard Spider has shut down or uninstalled security applications on victim systems that might prevent ransomware from executing.[103][104][105][106]


ZIPLINE can add itself to the exclusion list for the Ivanti Connect Secure Integrity Checker Tool if the --exclude parameter is passed by the tar process.[107]

S0412 ZxShell

ZxShell can kill AV products' processes.[108]


ID Mitigation Description
M1038 Execution Prevention

Use application control where appropriate, especially regarding the execution of tools outside of the organization's security policies (such as rootkit removal tools) that have been abused to impair system defenses. Ensure that only approved security applications are used and running on enterprise systems.

M1022 Restrict File and Directory Permissions

Ensure proper process and file permissions are in place to prevent adversaries from disabling or interfering with security services.

M1024 Restrict Registry Permissions

Ensure proper Registry permissions are in place to prevent adversaries from disabling or interfering with security services.

M1018 User Account Management

Ensure proper user permissions are in place to prevent adversaries from disabling or interfering with security services.


ID Data Source Data Component Detects
DS0017 Command Command Execution

Monitor for the execution of commands and arguments associated with disabling or modification of security software processes or services such as Set-MpPreference-DisableScriptScanning 1 in Windows,sudo spctl --master-disable in macOS, and setenforce 0 in Linux. Furthermore, on Windows monitor for the execution of taskkill.exe or Net Stop commands which may deactivate antivirus software and other security systems.

DS0027 Driver Driver Load

Monitor for unusual/suspicious driver activity, especially regarding EDR and drivers associated with security tools as well as those that may be abused to disable security products.

DS0009 Process Process Creation

In an attempt to avoid detection after compromising a machine, threat actors often try to disable Windows Defender. This is often done using "sc" [service control], a legitimate tool provided by Microsoft for managing services. This action interferes with event detection and may lead to a security event going undetected, thereby potentially leading to further compromise of the network.

Note: Though this analytic is utilizing Event ID 1 for process creation, the arguments are specifically looking for the use of service control for querying or trying to stop Windows Defender.

Analytic 1 - Detecting Tampering of Windows Defender Command Prompt

(source="WinEventLog:Microsoft-Windows-Sysmon/Operational" EventCode="1") OR (source="WinEventLog:Security" EventCode="4688") Image="C:\Windows\System32\sc.exe" (CommandLine="sc config" OR CommandLine="sc stop" OR CommandLine="sc query" )

Process Termination

Monitor processes for unexpected termination related to security tools/services. Specifically, before execution of ransomware, monitor for rootkit tools, such as GMER, PowerTool or TDSSKiller, that may detect and terminate hidden processes and the host antivirus software.

DS0013 Sensor Health Host Status

Lack of expected log events may be suspicious. Monitor for telemetry that provides context for modification or deletion of information related to security software processes or services such as Windows Defender definition files in Windows and System log files in Linux.

DS0019 Service Service Metadata

Monitor for telemetry that provides context of security software services being disabled or modified. In cloud environments, monitor virtual machine logs for the status of cloud security agents. Spyware and malware remain a serious problem and Microsoft developed security services, Windows Defender and Windows Firewall, to combat this threat. In the event Windows Defender or Windows Firewall is turned off, administrators should correct the issue immediately to prevent the possibility of infection or further infection and investigate to determine if caused by crash or user manipulation.Note: Windows Event code 7036 from the System log identifies if a service has stopped or started. This analytic looks for "Windows Defender" or "Windows Firewall" that has stopped.

Analytic 1 - User Activity from Stopping Windows Defensive Services

(source="WinEventLog:System" EventCode="7036") ServiceName="Windows Defender" OR ServiceName="Windows Firewall" AND ServiceName="stopped*"

DS0024 Windows Registry Windows Registry Key Deletion

Monitor for deletion of Windows Registry keys and/or values related to services and startup programs that correspond to security tools such as HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\AMSI\Providers.

Windows Registry Key Modification

Monitor for changes made to Windows Registry keys and/or values related to services and startup programs that correspond to security tools such as HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender.


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