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CAPEC-675: Retrieve Data from Decommissioned Devices

Attack Pattern ID: 675
Abstraction: Standard
Status: Stable
Presentation Filter:
+ Description

An adversary obtains decommissioned, recycled, or discarded systems and devices that can include an organization’s intellectual property, employee data, and other types of controlled information. Systems and devices that have reached the end of their lifecycles may be subject to recycle or disposal where they can be exposed to adversarial attempts to retrieve information from internal memory chips and storage devices that are part of the system.

+ Likelihood Of Attack


+ Typical Severity


+ Relationships
Section HelpThis table shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern. These relationships are defined as ChildOf and ParentOf, and give insight to similar items that may exist at higher and lower levels of abstraction. In addition, relationships such as CanFollow, PeerOf, and CanAlsoBe are defined to show similar attack patterns that the user may want to explore.
ChildOfMeta Attack PatternMeta Attack Pattern - A meta level attack pattern in CAPEC is a decidedly abstract characterization of a specific methodology or technique used in an attack. A meta attack pattern is often void of a specific technology or implementation and is meant to provide an understanding of a high level approach. A meta level attack pattern is a generalization of related group of standard level attack patterns. Meta level attack patterns are particularly useful for architecture and design level threat modeling exercises.116Excavation
CanPrecedeDetailed Attack PatternDetailed Attack Pattern - A detailed level attack pattern in CAPEC provides a low level of detail, typically leveraging a specific technique and targeting a specific technology, and expresses a complete execution flow. Detailed attack patterns are more specific than meta attack patterns and standard attack patterns and often require a specific protection mechanism to mitigate actual attacks. A detailed level attack pattern often will leverage a number of different standard level attack patterns chained together to accomplish a goal.37Retrieve Embedded Sensitive Data
Section HelpThis table shows the views that this attack pattern belongs to and top level categories within that view.
+ Prerequisites
An adversary needs to have access to electronic data processing equipment being recycled or disposed of (e.g., laptops, servers) at a collection location and the ability to take control of it for the purpose of exploiting its content.
+ Skills Required
[Level: High]
An adversary may need the ability to mount printed circuit boards and target individual chips for exploitation.
[Level: Medium]
An adversary needs the technical skills required to extract solid state drives, hard disk drives, and other storage media to host on a compatible system or harness to gain access to digital content.
+ Consequences
Section HelpThis table specifies different individual consequences associated with the attack pattern. The Scope identifies the security property that is violated, while the Impact describes the negative technical impact that arises if an adversary succeeds in their attack. The Likelihood provides information about how likely the specific consequence is expected to be seen relative to the other consequences in the list. For example, there may be high likelihood that a pattern will be used to achieve a certain impact, but a low likelihood that it will be exploited to achieve a different impact.
Bypass Protection Mechanism
+ Mitigations
Backup device data before erasure to retain intellectual property and inside knowledge.
Overwrite data on device rather than deleting. Deleted data can still be recovered, even if the device trash can is emptied. Rewriting data removes any trace of the old data. Performing multiple overwrites followed by a zeroing of the device (overwriting with all zeros) is good practice.
Use a secure erase software.
Physically destroy the device if it is not intended to be reused. Using a specialized service to disintegrate, burn, melt or pulverize the device can be effective, but if those services are inaccessible, drilling nails or holes, or smashing the device with a hammer can be effective. Do not burn, microwave, or pour acid on a hard drive.
Physically destroy memory and SIM cards for mobile devices not intended to be reused.
Ensure that the user account has been terminated or switched to a new device before destroying.
+ Example Instances

A company is contracted by an organization to provide data destruction services for solid state and hard disk drives being discarded. Prior to destruction, an adversary within the contracted company copies data from select devices, violating the data confidentiality requirements of the submitting organization.

+ References
[REF-663] Richard Kissel, Andrew Regenscheid, Matthew Scholl and Kevin Stine. "NIST Special Publication 800-88 Revision 1: Guidelines for Media Sanitization". National Institute of Standards and Technology. 2014-12. <>. URL validated: 2021-06-22.
[REF-717] Linda Pesante, Christopher King and George Silowash. "Disposing of Devices Safely". CISA United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT). 2012. <>. URL validated: 2022-02-21.
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
2021-06-24CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Modification DateModifierOrganization
2022-02-22CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Mitigations, References
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: October 21, 2021