You are worried about cyberattacks affecting, or even shutting down, business operations, so you create a cybersecurity budget and have implemented comprehensive cybersecurity measures across your enterprise. You are satisfied with your cybersecurity programme but just one question remains: How good are the cyber defences you have built? Enter the Red Team.

A Red Team Assessment is an offensive cybersecurity exercise. Red Teams simulate an attack against your organisation with the goal of discovering where and how your defences could be compromised and should be improved.

What Is A Red Team?

A Red Team can be best understood as good guys playing bad guys. Red Team exercises are not limited to cybersecurity and are used in many security contexts, such as in the military and law enforcement.

The goal of a Red Team is to use the same tools and tactics, and be as determined and ruthless, as threat actors to breach the defences of the client through real-world attack simulation. The Red Team will usually match their wits against a Blue Team of cyber defenders (the organisation’s existing IT team and security consultants) who will attempt to thwart the Red Team’s attacks using the infrastructure that would normally be available to them in the organisation.

A Purple Team is so-called as it is a mixture of Red and Blue teams, indicating the teams effectively function as one with complete transparency and knowledge-sharing between the teams to improve the organisation’s defences.

How Are Red Team Assessments Different From Other Cybersecurity Drills?

Enterprises usually conduct several cybersecurity tests, including the utilisation of ethical hackers and Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT) initiatives. Red Team reviews will include both these, and a lot more. The difference between these and Red Team Assessments lies in

  1. Scope
  2. The Element of Surprise

Conventional cybersecurity drills are often limited in scope; a specific area of cyber defence will be analysed by subjecting it to pre-determined tests. The organisation’s Blue Team will also know when the exercise will be conducted and be prepared to repel the attack at a specific time. These tests do have some value: failing such tests indicate the business needs to revamp its cybersecurity measures but clearing such tests does not prove the effectiveness of the cyber defences against real-world attacks.

Red Team Assessments are not usually limited in scope to a specific area or method because a threat actor will not similarly constrain themselves. The Red Team may attempt to comprise the organisation through insufficiently secured Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) infrastructure, or find user credentials available for sale on the dark web, or even try to gain physical entry into the client’s facility and access the business network from within the IT perimeter or walk out of the facility with a computing device or storage media. Equally, the Red Team exercise will also include the element of surprise: the Blue Team of defenders will not know a Red Team exercise is being conducted and will regard the simulated attack as a genuine threat.

Red Team Credentials

When evaluating a Red Team to assess your organisation’s cyber defences, ensure the Red Team members are

  1. Technology experts with in-depth knowledge on enterprise IT
  2. Highly skilled ethical hackers with access to and familiarity with hacking tools
  3. Researchers with a deep understanding of and ability to replicate the Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) used by threat actors

Simply put, you should be glad the Red Team members wear white hats.

Why Your Enterprise Should Conduct Red Team Assessments

Red Team Assessments benefit enterprises in several ways:

  1. Reality Check On Enterprise Cybersecurity – A Red Team exercise validates (or invalidates) an organisation’s cybersecurity strategy and its implementation against real-world cyberattacks, which is the only measure of effectiveness that matters, before its cyber defences face a sophisticated and resourceful threat actor
  2. Verifying Cybersecurity ROI – The results of the Red Team exercise indicate if the organisation’s cybersecurity investment is appropriate and highlight the areas that must be addressed to improve the Return On Investment (ROI) obtained from cybersecurity expenditure
  3. Strengthening Blue Team – A Red Team exercise allows the organisation’s IT team to practise their threat detection, mitigation, and remediation skills against real-world cyberattack scenarios, ensuring they develop the right strategies and techniques to thwart unsimulated hostile attacks
  4. Improvement In General Cybersecurity Awareness – A Red Team exercise that includes social engineering can help the organisation’s employees understand their susceptibility to phishing and other social engineering techniques and remain alert to the use of such manipulative tactics by threat actors

How Often Should Your Enterprise Conduct Red Team Assessments?

The frequency of Red Team Assessments should be decided in consultation with your Red Team provider based on your industry, scale of operations, expansion plans, historical attacks, presence of sensitive information (customer PII or intellectual property from R&D), and any areas of concern (such as utilisation of legacy devices or applications) that cannot be immediately resolved. The timing of Red Team Assessments should also be discussed especially if your organisation experiences seasonal fluctuations in demand, as cyberattacks are more likely to occur before or during demand peaks and you may wish to assess and bolster your defences before your sales season begins.

K7 Security helps enterprises secure their digital infrastructure against rising cyberthreats. Contact Us to learn more about how your organisation can benefit from our cybersecurity solutions and services.

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