The names "Red team" and "Blue team" are frequently thrown about while talking about cybersecurity. In the military, both expressions have long been used to describe teams that mimic enemy attacks and defense teams that employ their skills to counterattack. These same concepts have been integrated into cyber security.

In this write-up, we'll examine the differences between working on a red or a blue team as a cybersecurity professional so you can make an informed decision.

Benefits of a Red Team vs. Blue Team Approach

There are numerous advantages for security teams to adopting a red team versus blue team approach, including the following:

  • Boost network safety
  • Find flaws in the system
  • Encourage competition and cooperation 
  • Amplify your knowledge on how to detect and stop assaults
  • Work on developing a strategy and implementing it
  • Educate your coworkers about the importance of security

What Is a Red Team?

During a cybersecurity red team/blue team simulation, the red team takes on the role of an adversary. It uses advanced attack techniques to detect and exploit any potential flaws in the organization's cyber defenses. Typically, these offensive teams are made up of seasoned security professionals or ethical hackers who specialize in penetration testing by mimicking real-world attack strategies and methodologies.

In most cases, the red team acquires access to a target system by stealing user credentials or other social engineering tactics. In order to exfiltrate data as far as possible from the network without being detected, the red team uses elevated privileges and lateral movement while within the network.

Why Is Red Teaming Necessary for Your Security Team?

It is the process of deliberately and thoroughly establishing an attack vector that breaks the organization's security defense through real-world assault methodologies. 

The organization's defenses are based not on the conceptual potential of security tools and systems but on their actual performance in the face of real-world threats when they are used in this adversarial strategy. The use of a red team is essential when evaluating a company's readiness for prevention, detection, and remediation.

Red Team Activities

A red team's job is to think like a hacker in order to break into a company's security system (with their permission). 

Most common red team activities:

  • Card cloning
  • Penetration testing
  • Social engineering
  • Intercepting communication
  • Sharing ideas for improving security with the blue team

Red Team Skills

Red team activities require different abilities due to the offensive approach. Developing the following talents could help you land a red team position:

  • Software Expertise
  • Penetration Testing
  • Social engineering

You can become a more effective attacker by learning about the risks out there and how to replicate them. In addition, finding new and creative tactics to assault the blue team is often necessary in order to overcome their defenses.

Red Team Job Titles

Even if a corporation does not have clearly defined "red" and "blue" teams, specific roles tend to have tasks and needs similar to those of red teams. Cybersecurity occupations that let you play the threat actor include:

  • $80,096 for a vulnerability assessor
  • $83,015 for a security auditor
  • $98,177 for an ethical hacker
  • $102,274 for a penetration tester

Red Team Certifications

As an offensive security specialist or red team member, possessing a credential to demonstrate your expertise in penetration testing and offensive security could help you land a job. Here are some of the most popular certifications in cybersecurity that focus on offensive capabilities:

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)
  • Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT) Master
  • Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
  • Certified Red Team Operations Professional (CRTOP)

You should look at job advertisements for roles you are interested in to determine what certifications are typically requested or necessary.

What Is a Blue Team?

An enterprise's information systems are protected by a "blue team," according to NIST, which is tasked with preserving the organization's security posture in the face of fake attackers. As a defense, the blue team protects an organization's most important assets when a red team is attacking.

Blue Team Activities

If you're a part of the blue team, it's your responsibility to assess your company's current security posture and take steps to repair any weaknesses. 

Most common blue team activities:

  • Analysis of digital traces
  • Audits of the domain name system (DNS)
  • Constructing firewalls and antivirus software on endpoints
  • Keeping tabs on network traffic
  • Employing least-privilege access

Blue Team Skills

Defending a firm against assault requires a thorough grasp of the company's assets and how to secure them best. In order to succeed on the blue team, you'll need to have these skills:

If you're a member of a blue team, you'll be expected to know how to use packet intrusion prevention systems (IPS), intrusion detection systems (IDS), and sniffers and SIEM software.

Blue Team Job Titles

Traditional cybersecurity tasks and responsibilities are more closely aligned with those of a blue team. Job opportunities in defensive cybersecurity can be found by searching for positions like:

  • $80,003 per year for a cybersecurity analyst
  • $88,818 per year for an incident responder
  • $90,257 for an analyst in threat intelligence
  • $96,942 for an Information security specialist
  • $111,630 for a security engineer
  • $153,160 for a security architect

Blue Team Certifications

Defensive security experts might benefit from many of the most popular cybersecurity credentials. A few well-liked choices are:

  • CompTIA Security+
  • GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC)
  • Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
  • CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Choosing Your Team: Red vs. Blue

There is a high demand for both offensive and defensive security professionals, and both positions tend to pay rather well. Your interests and personality qualities play a big role in deciding which side of cybersecurity you want to work on.

Red team jobs may be a good fit if you're creative, extroverted, and open to trying new things. The blue team may be a better fit if you're proactive, a natural planner, and more comfortable making judgments based on facts and industry norms.

How Do the Red and Blue Teams Collaborate?

Red and blue team exercises can only be successful if the two teams communicate well. They should keep up with the latest developments in cybersecurity and communicate this information with the red team. Additionally, the red team should be on the lookout for emerging dangers and hacker tactics so that they may share that information with their counterparts in blue.

Red and blue teams may or may not be informed of a scheduled test, depending on the test's purpose. For example, when conducting a test to replicate a real-world response to a "genuine" danger, you would not want to tell the blue team about it.

The blue team lead, or someone else in management which is aware of the test, is the only caveat. There is a greater degree of control over what happens when the situation escalates because of this.

Both teams gather data and present their findings at the end of the test. They give tips on how to block such attempts in a real-world context to those who succeed in breaking through defenses. Both teams should be informed if their monitoring techniques detect an attempted attack from the other side.

Challenges Requiring a Red Team/Blue Team Practice

Red team/blue team exercises are an essential aspect of any effective and strong security plan. With the right exercises in place, a company can better assess the network perimeter to find potential security breaches, such as backdoors and other unauthorized access, among the people, processes, and technology in use. As a result of this data, clients will be able to prepare their security teams better to deal with potential threats.

Regular red team/blue team drills are critical because many breaches go unnoticed for months or even years. The average amount of time an adversary spends in a network before being detected and ejected is 197 days. Attackers can utilize this time to set up back doors or change the network in order to generate new points of entry that could be abused in the future. This raises the stakes for businesses.

Red Team Exercise Examples

Red teams employ a variety of strategies and tools to find and exploit security holes. For example, a member of the red team may infect the host with malware for disabling security protections or may use social engineering methods to steal access credentials.

Red-team activities include:

  • The use of various real-world approaches by a member of the red team to get access to the system is known as penetration testing.
  • The use of social engineering techniques to coerce employees or other members of a network into exposing, producing, or otherwise distributing their network credentials
  • Intercepting communications in order to map the network or get further information about the environment to avoid typical security measures
  • Cloning an administrator's access cards to obtain access to restricted locations.

Blue Team Exercise Examples

Several security technologies and resources are available to the blue team to defend the company and discover any weaknesses in its detection capabilities.

Blue-team activities include:

  • Using DNS research
  • Analyzing digital activities to establish a baseline and identify suspicious or anomalous activity.
  • Configuring and keeping an eye on all security software in the system.
  • Maintaining and properly configuring perimeter security measures like firewalls, antivirus, and anti-malware software.

How to Create a Successful Red Team and Blue Team?

A breach can go unnoticed for weeks or even months because of the ongoing evolution of attack techniques used by adversaries. The lack of adequate security controls and cybersecurity defensive gaps also means that firms are unable to identify more complex attacks. Teams should ensure they have the tools and visibility necessary to deal with increasingly sophisticated attacks, even if the team has successfully dealt with a simple attack.

Hence, Red team/Blue team simulated attack is one of the tools in the armory of cybersecurity defenses. Realistic-sounding simulations are the primary goal of these programs. Some members of the red team might play an employee who clicks on malware-infected links, for example. The defenders must then discover this malware before it expands across their network and compromises web servers and other apps. When making the simulation more realistic, it replays genuine network traffic to hide the attacks.

Cybersecurity Color Wheel: Yellow, Green, Purple, and Orange Team

As cybersecurity grows more sophisticated, new professions emerge outside the red/blue framework. As a result, these colors are often referred to as the cybersecurity color wheel. Let's learn the rest of them:

  • Yellow team: It comprises security architects and coders responsible for designing and implementing security systems.
  • Green team: It uses the blue team's knowledge to improve the code generated by the yellow team. 'Green team' Blue team tasks can also be automated for a more effective defense.
  • Purple team: In a purple team, defensive and offensive tactics are used to encourage cooperation and knowledge exchange between red and blue teams. A purple team should organically emerge due to the red team's engagement with the blue team.
  • Orange team: Using what they've learned from the attackers (the red team), the orange team works to instill a greater sense of security in the yellow team. To improve the security of their programming, they instruct developers to think like attackers.
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