What are the Red Teams in Cyber Security?

In the context of Cybersecurity and information security, the terms ‘Red team’ and ‘Blue team’ are oft-discussed. In this article, we will look at the definition of the Red Team penetration testing, and how they play a vital role in establishing and fortifying cybersecurity in an organization.

These terms have their origins in the military and have been used to depict teams that try to mimic the way in which the enemies try to attack installations and use the exact same techniques to do so, and there is another set of teams that utilize their skills to defend these installations from such attacks. The same principle applies to the field of cybersecurity as well, with the Red team performing the role of the invading team and the Blue team taking up the role of the defending team.

Using war game tactics in the field of cybersecurity is a great way to be able to test out the defenses of an organization, and is being widely used in several sectors of business such as in banking, national security, governmental agencies and so forth. Using the findings generated from such exercises, organizations are able to deploy security patches that can help defend against outside hackers from penetrating their defenses as well as in blocking all vulnerabilities in the security apparatus of the organization.

Let us look at the objectives that a red team exercise is given in the field of cybersecurity.

Their main objective is to compromise the security that is placed at an organization using any means necessary in the cyber domain and to use those means to get past any controls or security that the organization might have placed, and to get access to sensitive data of the organization. They are authorized to use attacks like VPN based attacks, tunneling attacks, phishing, spoofing the network, using bots, cloning authentication tokens and so forth in order to achieve their targets.

It is the role of the blue team to thwart such attacks and to defend the organization against the attacks of the red team. If the blue team fails at its job, then it implies that the organization has got some serious thinking to do with regard to bolstering the security and defense mechanisms that it has put in place to secure the operational and critical data of the organization as well as the failure of the organization in imparting proper training to the security team and the employees of the organization.

Normally, the blue team is recruited from in-house employees and the red team is contracted from outside – the reason being that an outside team will be able to objectively penetrate the defenses of an organization and can accurately simulate the nature of the threat from hackers. However, organizations also use in-house red teams, if there are any issues related to export controlled data and privacy. Both the teams must have next-level skills in ethical hacking and should boost their technical knowledge by getting red team training to prove their skills as they are critical to the development and maintenance of an organization’s security infrastructure.

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