Disabling Security Tools

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Disabling Security Tools
ID T1089
Tactic Defense Evasion
Platform Linux, macOS, Windows
Data Sources API monitoring, Anti-virus, File monitoring, Services, Windows Registry, Process command-line parameters
Defense Bypassed Anti-virus, File monitoring, Host intrusion prevention systems, Signature-based detection, File monitoring, Log analysis

Adversaries may disable security tools to avoid possible detection of their tools and activities. This can take the form of killing security software or event logging processes, deleting Registry keys so that tools do not start at run time, or other methods to interfere with security scanning or event reporting.


  • Carbanak may use netsh to add local firewall rule exceptions.1
  • Dragonfly disabled the host-based firewall on a victim and globally opened port 3389.2
  • Various Lazarus Group malware modifies the Windows firewall to allow incoming connections or disable it entirely using netsh. 3 4 Lazarus Group malware TangoDelta attempts to terminate various processes associated with McAfee.4
  • Malware used by Putter Panda attempts to terminate processes corresponding to two components of Sophos Anti-Virus (SAVAdminService.exe and SavService.exe).5
  • Threat Group-3390 has used appcmd.exe to disable logging on a victim server.6
  • The "ZR" variant of BACKSPACE will check to see if known host-based firewalls are installed on the infected systems. BACKSPACE will attempt to establish a C2 channel, then will examine open windows to identify a pop-up from the firewall software and will simulate a mouse-click to allow the connection to proceed.7
  • ChChes can alter the victim's proxy configuration.8
  • H1N1 kills and disables services for Windows Firewall, Windows Security Center, and Windows Defender.9
  • HDoor kills anti-virus found on the victim.10
  • Kasidet has the ability to change firewall settings to allow a plug-in to be downloaded.11
  • Remsec can add or remove applications or ports on the Windows firewall or disable it entirely.12
  • SslMM identifies and kills anti-malware processes.10
  • TinyZBot can disable Avira anti-virus.13
  • Unknown Logger has functionality to disable security tools, including Kaspersky, BitDefender, and MalwareBytes.14
  • netsh can be used to disable local firewall settings.15


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


Monitor processes and command-line arguments to see if security tools are killed or stop running. Monitor Registry edits for modifications to services and startup programs that correspond to security tools. Lack of log or event file reporting may be suspicious.