Red Team vs Blue Team in Cybersecurity: A Quick Crash Course | Hacker Noon

Red Team and Blue Teams are techniques modeled after military training exercises to simulate real-world attacks to test the organization’s existing security rules, look at where the security is the strongest, and identify areas that need improvement. It is beneficial to have both red teams and blue teams within an organization to test their existing security measures.

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Jessica Truong

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Red Teams and Blue Teams are techniques modeled after military training exercises to simulate attacks to test the organization’s existing security rules, look at where the security is the strongest, and identify areas that need improvement. The goal of this article is to understand the difference between the red team vs. blue team. Here is a video explaining the difference between the red team vs. blue team. The rest of this article will go into further details of each team.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is a Red Team?
  2. What is a Blue Team? 
  3. Red Team vs. Blue Team: Why is it Beneficial to Have Both?
  4. How do Red Teams and Blue Teams Work Together?
  5. Final Thoughts: Red Team vs. Blue Team

What is a Red Team?

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When you hear red teaming, think offense. Members of the red team will act as hackers with the goal of trying to identify and exploit any potential weaknesses within an organization. Typically people in the red team are highly experienced professionals or are ethical hackers. They use a variety of techniques to find weaknesses in technology, people, and processes. 

Usually, the red team will gain access into an organization by stealing user credentials or via social engineering. Once they are inside the organization’s network, they will perform privilege escalation to have access to more sensitive information and move deeper into the network. The goal of a red team is to exfiltrate data without being caught. 

A red team looks to exploit the following:

  • Known vulnerabilities 
  • Penetration testing
  • Wireless access
  • Physical security breach
  • Active directory exploits
  • File servers
  • Endpoints
  • Ports

Why is having a Red Team important? 

Red teaming requires being able to think outside of the box. It is a vital component in an organization because it can assess an organization’s strengths and weaknesses, identify what weaknesses were found, and remediate them before a real hacker gets to it. 

Red Team Activities

  • Social engineering: manipulate employees to disclose login credentials via various social engineering techniques (i.e., phishing attacks)
  • Intercept communication: this would allow the hacker to gain more information about an organization’s environment, hoping to gather more vulnerabilities to exploit
  • Penetration testing: red team members attempt to gain access to an organization’s network by using real-world techniques
  • Cloning: clone an admin’s access card to access unrestricted areas

Red Team Tools

The red team follows every step of the cyber kill chain just like a hacker would. Here are a few of the tools used by the Red Team:

Reconnaissance

  • Nmap
  • Sqlmap
  • Nikto

Weaponization

  • Social engineering
  • Metasploit

Privilege Escalation

Command and Control

  • Cobalt strike
  • DNSExfiltrator 
  • Powershell-RAT 

What is a Blue Team?

The blue team is on defense. The team consists of incident response members who are responsible for defending an organization against cyber threats and attacks. Although blue teams in cybersecurity do not receive the same level of attention as the red teams, their importance should not be underestimated. 

Blue teams are proactively identifying security flaws, patching systems, testing, and implementing security controls. They must be able to think creatively and be able to react on the fly. 

Blue Team Responsibilities and Exercises Examples

A blue team performs all of the security operation center (SOC) functions and is responsible for SIEM, incident handling and response, packet analysis, vulnerability scans, and threat intelligence.  

Blue Team Tools

Here are a few of the tools used by the blue team:

  • NMAP
  • Wireshark
  • Syslog
  • Kali Linux (Metasploit, Burpsuite, Maltego, John the Ripper)

Red Team vs. Blue Team: Why is it Beneficial to Have Both?

It is beneficial to have both red teams and blue teams within an organization to test their existing security measures. By utilizing both groups, it is possible to improve the organization’s security based on the vulnerabilities that the red team found. 

Together, red teams and blue teams make it possible for organizations to: 

  • Identify any misconfigurations and gaps in security products
  • Strengthen the organization’s network security 
  • Raise employee awareness as humans are hacker’s number one targets

How do Red Teams and Blue Teams Work Together?

Well, first of all, communication is key. There should always be communication between the two teams to have a successful exercise. Remember, the job of the blue team is to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and to share this information with the red team. This information will help improve the organization’s security. The red team must be aware of the latest threats and penetration techniques that the hackers use and inform the blue team on such techniques.  

The goal of an organization’s test will determine whether or not the red team will inform the blue team of the planned test. For example, if the goal is to simulate a real-world scenario attack, then you probably wouldn’t notify the blue team in advance. 

Final Thoughts: Red Team vs. Blue Team

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Red and blue teams are needed to constantly strengthen an organization’s security infrastructure. Each team has its own objectives, as discussed earlier, and together, they provide useful information for the organization’s security team. Remember, hackers belong to the red team, and they are constantly searching for new techniques to circumvent security measures in an organization. Therefore, to make sure that a company is a step ahead of the hackers, a red team must be in place to learn the new attack tactics.

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