A Red Team versus Blue Team exercise is an essential test of an organization’s cyber security. This planned simulation is designed to mimic a real cyberattack, and is staged to determine the security infrastructure of a potential target and its resiliency against external cyber threats.
Each team refers to a group of cybersecurity professionals and their role within the staged cyberattack. The teams work together to test and ultimately improve the organization’s cybersecurity measures, but they do so differently.
How red teams work
Red Teams consist of security professionals (often independent, ethical hackers) who play the attackers in a staged cyber-attack. By testing available hacking techniques, their goal is to overcome an organization’s cybersecurity controls and gain unauthorized access to the organization’s private assets (this can include business communications, sensitive client data, and trade secrets).
Red Teams map out their goals such as the extraction of a particular piece of valuable data from a server. They then identify which systems to target, such as server networks, employee portals, or web applications. The Red Team will then employ hacking techniques like phishing scams to reach their target.
After the Red Team’s simulated attacks have been completed, they explain to the organization (and the Blue Team) where vulnerabilities and weaknesses in their security exist, and identify specific areas where security improvements can be made.
How blue teams work
Blue Teams are tasked to maintain a strong defense against any and all cyber invasions. They are the red team’s opposition. The blue team defends against the red team in real time, as if the external cyber-attack were real. Unlike the red team which is usually outsourced, the blue team are employees of the test target.
Blue teams assess and analyze an organization’s current security posture and take measures to address the vulnerabilities and/or security flaws that are revealed by the mock intrusion.
How white teams work
The white team referees the engagement between red teams and blue teams acting as a third-party that facilitates the engagement and establishes the rules and the metrics for analyzing the results. The white team works with the red team to ensure the mock attack stays within the range of hacking techniques included in the scope of the test. The white team is crucial to the aftergame, parsing the lessons learned from the attack, and conducting all post-engagement assessment.
- Red teams simulate attacks against blue teams to test the effectiveness of an organization’s security.
- White teams act as the referees and judges of the red team vs blue team engagement.
- The goal is to enhance an organization or business’s security measures and identify existing vulnerabilities and weak points, as well as to stay prepared against the latest real-world cyberattack techniques.