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The Best Defence is Built through Field Training: Red Team vs Blue Team

Dependence on information systems increases that’s why ensuring the safety of the corporate network is one of the biggest challenges companies face nowadays. One of the most effective ways to develop the skills of these defenders is to imitate real penetrations with Red vs Blue Team contests where Red Team attacks and Blue Team defends.

Red Team-Blue Team concept originates from the military. Detachments often divide into two divisions while training blue team vs. red team to simulate the conditions of a real battlefield. Regular practice of this kind of  "games" helps to diversify the experience of security personnel and prepare them for the varied battlefield tactics and strategies of real enemies.

In this article, we are going to review the main tasks undertaken by such teams and determine which of them are most important.

Red vs Blue team

Why Participation of Two Teams is Needed in Cybersecurity?

Any system, no matter how well protected, is theoretically susceptible to hacking if connected to the internet. The point is that ever-developing and evolving security mechanisms provoke the development of new, more complex malignant methods, thus, intensifying the search for vulnerabilities. An average modern digital security system is close to impossible to breach for an ordinary internet user. Nevertheless, there has always existed a separate category of people (most of whom wish to remain anonymous) who know more about hacking than ordinary people and, with time, will penetrate the system, no matter how secure its protection is.

Vulnerabilities can be caused by a variety of factors, including

  • improper quality of applications and incorrectly chosen programming languages;
  • negligent system administrators of the web server;
  • keeping web applications outside of the overall security perimeter of the company’s intranet;
  • imperfections of current internet technologies and the complexity of network infrastructure as a whole.

Having to deal with a lot of hurdles as it is, the information security staff of an average company quite often turns a blind eye to vulnerability management.

Because of these factors, companies in need of strong security for their digital assets, turn to test their protective mechanisms with the help of the two teams red and blue confrontation.

Below we explore the specific tactics and work of the two teams.

Red Teaming Services

Red Team is a group of dedicated attackers, who try to penetrate the defenses of a web application which is overlooked by the Blue Team.

The Advantage of the Red Team

Red Team allows creating a holistic, objective vision of the tested object’s protection. Regular IT specialists are often unaware of the applications, algorithms, and methods used in cracking. In contrast, a dedicated pentester is usually a former hacker who, due to their remarkable experience, is able to intuitively detect systemic vulnerabilities and use special methodologies and/or social engineering for the purposes of hacking.

Unfortunately, there are not so many specialized courses that teach the skills and knowledge needed to be a successful hacker. The cost of such training, as a rule, is prohibitively high. That is why most pentesters are self-taught.

The Role of the Red Team

The main premise of the red teaming services is to discover vulnerabilities in the system and use it to show the customer imperfections in their protection mechanisms. Thus, the activity of Red Team security specialists allows identifying "gaps" in the system before real scammers can exploit them. Another important role is training the security department as a whole and members of the Blue Team, in particular.

Who Needs a Red Team?

Owners of any online product need to evaluate their defense systems with the use of a Red Team before allowing free access to their product. Moreover, if private information is involved, theft of which can bring someone financial losses or some other kind of harm.

Blue Teaming Services

Blue Team is a group of security professionals who are responsible for ensuring that Red Team cybersecurity specialists or real attackers will not be able to penetrate defenses and minimizing the results of any violations. Primarily, this is done through real-time analysis of all the network transmissions. In particular, SIEM (Security Information Event Management) methodology, its tools, and derivatives are often employed.

Obviously, manual tracking is almost impossible. Thus, numerous tools for automated monitoring routers, firewalls, etc., come into play.

The Blue Team members should not be guided solely by information technology knowledge. The fact is that many successful hacks rely on social engineering methods.

The Advantage of the Blue Team

Blue Team is usually composed of full-time security analysts. It means that they are well-acquainted with the peculiarities of the company’s inner workings, processes, culture, defense solutions, and operating environments.

The Role of the Blue Team

The leading task of the Blue Team is to keep the members of the Red Team from getting inside the system, even if previously undiscovered vulnerabilities would serve as an attack vector. In addition, its members learn to uphold and even increase the fault tolerance of the protected structures.

Who Needs a Blue Team?

Today almost any company that has its own IT department or at least a system administrator, whose duties include resolving breaches, needs a Blue Team.

Blue vs Red Team Factors of Efficiency

Red vs Blue Team hacking

What directly affects the performance indicators of the team’s work?

The main indicator of Red Team efficiency here, in addition to the practical skills of its members, is a "true hacker" mindset, a fraudulent type of thinking. Really good specialists will not be tied by any rules and ethical norms because they are not average "law-abiding citizens".

In real life, a hacker may not be an innocuous student of technical specialties who decided to practice their skills acquired after passing an online course on ethical hacking out of boredom. Most likely, this is a real criminal to whom the moral qualities of a normal person are alien. Because of this, for most productive Red vs Blue Team hacking, most companies turn to professionals, instead of dividing existing security employees into two groups.

Otherwise, red teaming fails to discover vulnerabilities. Due to the aggressive nature of “Reds” behavior, members of the Blue Team face real “field” threats and train to confront them in practice. They get a general idea of what methods and strategies their opponents choose to penetrate the network and how they conduct their “dark deeds".

In order to raise the skills of the Blue Team, its members must develop several options for responding to events, develop their own tactics in case of abnormal network activity, and learn to eliminate the consequences of attacks as quickly as possible. Of course, most of this activity is entrusted to specialized software but when it comes to preventive measures, such fights are a great way to practice creating safe and highly reliable security measures.

10 Rules to Provide a Safe Environment for Your Intranet

To reduce resources spent on Red Team pentesting, we collected several recommendations that must be fulfilled before organizing the opposition of the Red and Blue Teams.

  • Select a trusted hosting service. If you are planning to deploy your web solution on an external hosting service, ask the hoster what actions they are taking to protect their clients.
  • Ensure the strong passwords policy. Ensure that your staff members use strong, unique passwords wherever possible (this also applies to the end nodes - the user PCs).
  • Define IP access policies. Limit the access to the site administration interfaces only to a trusted list of IPs.
  • Implement the two-factor authentication. Although TFA can also be hacked (mainly with social engineering methods), it still provides an order of magnitude stronger protection as compared to standard, one-step authentication.
  • Compose the access control tables. Correctly set up access control tables (starting with files and ending with site management console, if such functionality is provisioned).
  • Minimizing the privileges in all components for users who interact with the database helps to significantly reduce the damage if there is a vulnerability in the introduction of SQL statements.
  • Install the secure Web server configurations and environment variables. A particular case of such configurations is secure PHP configurations.
  • Employ the preventive control mechanisms. Install a reliable firewall and update timely. As practice shows, the best here are the hybrid soft/hardware complexes, delivered by vendors on a paid basis.
  • Provide an isolated network environment. Restricting network access for the web application and placing the web server in an isolated domain will also reduce the probability of unauthorized intrusion.

The conflict of Red vs Blue Team is a great way to test how viable network security mechanisms are and to strengthen the theoretical knowledge and practical skills of your cybersecurity specialists.

We’ll come to the rescue if you are in search of real professionals in red and blue teaming! Our team consists of the most experienced white hats with the track of records in the field of cybersecurity. Want to learn more about expertise to protect your company? Contact us - white hat hacker company by Hacken.

About Hacken

Hacken is a global cybersecurity consultancy firm. We allow customers to acquire cybersecurity services in a timely and quality manner. Hacken Ecosystem provides a wide range of cybersecurity services; it consists of bug bounty and rewarding platform HackenProof, complex and sophisticated rating service Crypto Exchange Ranks, a set of most needed and valuable cybersecurity services represented in Hacken Hub, and cybersecurity conference HackIT.

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