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This analytic identifies a suspicious process that is recursively deleting files on a compromised host. This behavior has been observed in several types of destructive malware, such as CaddyWiper, DoubleZero, and SwiftSlicer, which delete or overwrite files with randomly generated strings to make recovery impossible. Additionally, this analytic can detect potential recursive file writes across multiple files using Sysmon Event 23 or 26. Sysmon considers a file as deleted as soon as it is overwritten. This analytic serves as a strong indicator of potential destructive malware activity on a host machine or the uninstallation of a large software application.

  • Type: TTP
  • Product: Splunk Enterprise, Splunk Enterprise Security, Splunk Cloud

  • Last Updated: 2023-03-05
  • Author: Teoderick Contreras, Splunk, Steven Dick
  • ID: 3596a799-6320-4a2f-8772-a9e98ddb2960




ID Technique Tactic
T1485 Data Destruction Impact
Kill Chain Phase
  • Actions On Objectives
  • DE.CM
  • CIS 10
`sysmon` EventCode IN ("23","26") TargetFilename IN ("*.exe", "*.sys", "*.dll") 
| bin _time span=2m 
| stats count, values(TargetFilename) as deleted_files, min(_time) as firstTime, max(_time) as lastTime by user, dest, signature, signature_id, Image, process_name, process_guid 
| rename Image as process 
| where count >=500 
| `security_content_ctime(firstTime)` 
| `security_content_ctime(lastTime)` 
| `windows_data_destruction_recursive_exec_files_deletion_filter`


The SPL above uses the following Macros:

:information_source: windows_data_destruction_recursive_exec_files_deletion_filter is a empty macro by default. It allows the user to filter out any results (false positives) without editing the SPL.

Required fields

List of fields required to use this analytic.

  • _time
  • Image
  • TargetFilename
  • dest
  • user
  • signature_id
  • process_name
  • process_guid

How To Implement

To successfully implement this search, you need to ingest logs that include the process name, TargetFilename, and ProcessID executions from your endpoints. If you are using Sysmon, ensure you have at least version 2.0 of the Sysmon TA installed.

Known False Positives

The uninstallation of a large software application or the use of cleanmgr.exe may trigger this detection. A filter is necessary to reduce false positives.

Associated Analytic Story


Risk Score Impact Confidence Message
64.0 80 80 The process $process_name$ has removed a significant quantity of executable files, totaling [$count$], from the destination $dest$.

:information_source: The Risk Score is calculated by the following formula: Risk Score = (Impact * Confidence/100). Initial Confidence and Impact is set by the analytic author.


Test Dataset

Replay any dataset to Splunk Enterprise by using our tool or the UI. Alternatively you can replay a dataset into a Splunk Attack Range

source | version: 2