Do you know what is the main crisis plaguing the world of cybersecurity? And no, the answer is not ‘rise in cybercriminals or cyberattacks.’ It’s something more sinister.
It’s the lack of cybersecurity talent. Believe it or not, globally the cybersecurity landscape is facing a shortfall of 2.7 million cybersecurity experts. If we go by the recent CSIS survey, then 80% of organizations don’t even have a proper cybersecurity team.
The good news, however, is that organizations are willing to spend 7-10% of their budget on hiring cybersecurity experts. Surprisingly, what they are seeking is people who can build secure systems, develop new tools for defenses and investigate vulnerabilities in software and networks end-to-end. In other words, professionals who have an in-depth, unrivaled knowledge of IT and information security.
But just like the Avengers who save the world from evil, is it possible for a company to create its own Avengers of cybersecurity?
The answer is a big Yes!
Meet the Avengers of Cybersecurity: Red Team, Blue Team, Purple Team
The red, blue and purple teams form the fulcrum of the cybersecurity team. Their primary job involves mimicking real-life security threats, identifying vulnerabilities, enhancing information security, and strengthening defenses. However, it’s much more than that. Read further to know what role each plays in bolstering the security process.
Red Team: Playing Offensive in Cybersecurity
The red security team is responsible for testing threat detection, penetration testing and incident response capabilities of an organization. Once they figure out security vulnerabilities in the system, they initiate attacks by mirroring the techniques, tools and procedures (TTP) used by threat actors.
Once the red team completes testing, they generate a comprehensive report; outlining the methods used for detecting vulnerabilities and how they can be exploited by malicious actors. The purpose of the red security team is to check if the security controls of the organization are quick enough to identify and respond to new and advanced cyber security threats.
How Does the Red Team Work?
Generally, the red team applies an intelligence-driven, black-box approach to thoroughly assess the organization’s threat detection and incident response functionalities. The process includes 5 keys steps namely:
The red team relies on top-quality intelligence tools, techniques and resources to gather real-time insights about the security posture of the intended organization. This includes information about infrastructure, existing technologies and employees. A plan of attack is then initiated.
Staging & Weaponisation
Once the vulnerabilities are detected, the next step of the process is implemented, which is known as staging. This refers to the method of collecting, configuring and concealing resources required to launch the attack. Servers are set up to execute malicious techniques like Command & Control (C2), social engineering, harmful codes or malware.
This step involves the team compromising and gaining complete control over the target network. They usually tend to exploit system vulnerabilities, enable brute force to hack weak passwords or facilitate phishing attacks.
To gain further access to important assets and resources, the red team establishes the lateral network movement. This includes a series of techniques used to intrude into a compromised network, escalate privileges and exfiltrate sensitive and mission-critical data
Reporting and Analysis
After completing the exercise, a detailed report is chalked out comprising information on security vulnerabilities, attack vectors utilized and recommendations for threat mitigation.
Benefits of Having the Red Team
The activities of the red team are not just restricted to the initial discovery stage; they extend to retesting and remediation stages too. The other benefits of the red security team include:
- Examining if the security tools used by the organization can identify, react to and mitigate potential cyber threats.
- Collaborating with the internal incident response and blue teams to offer post-assessment debriefs.
- Training security teams to confront adversarial risks and threats in the security landscape.
- Implementing performance metrics for measuring the efficiency and effectiveness of security controls.
Challenges Faced by the Red Team
Sometimes the red team can face difficulty in accumulating accurate insights into their target network. This usually happens if the team is operating in a hostile environment. They can have trouble accessing certain areas of the targeted network and exfiltrating critical data and information.
Blue Team: Playing Defense Against Grave Cyberthreats
Representing the defensive side of the cybersecurity team, the blue security team typically adopts a proactive approach to fighting against security threats. They implement Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) platforms to monitor suspicious activity, track network traffic and implement tight security controls for mitigation.
The blue team carries out a rigorous risk assessment to identify threats and vulnerabilities, assess the impact they can have on critical data and resources, and prioritize which assets need end-to-end protection. Once this is done, they help the employees in the implementation of security protocols, stringent password policies and monitoring tools for checking access management.
How Does the Blue Team Work?
The blue team mostly operates in a Security Operation Center (SOC). SOC consists of cybersecurity experts who enable round-the-clock monitoring of the target network, investigate any potential cyber threats and manage security incidents.
The team scans the security landscape and creates a blueprint of the data, resources, systems and users. Based on this information, they choose security techniques for each of the assets. Some of these tactics include establishing administration privileges that prevent unauthorized access to the system. This is useful for restricting lateral movement across the network. But that’s not all.
Blue teams also deploy other security measures like full disk encryption, authentication, firewalls, secure logins and virtual private networks. Not to mention, the enablement of deception techniques and dummy assets to prevent bad actors from damaging the system.
This approach determines the ways in which the blue team mitigates threats and manages a security incident. Note that there are several incidents that send security alerts. It’s not realistically possible for the team to respond to each incident. So, they filter out the most important security incidents from the least ones.
They make this happen by enabling the SIEMs that send a notification to the blue team every time a breach takes place. After receiving the alert, an automated system studies the threat and escalates it to the team if it’s necessary. Later, the team conducts a forensic audit of the breach and gathers evidence to prevent it from occurring in the near future.
Threat modeling helps the team to create a record of threat responses and communicate the same as well as the countermeasures to the stakeholders. So, if an attack does happen, the blue security team can prioritize resources and allocate manpower and techniques for the defense.
Benefits of Having a Blue Team
The blue team is crucial to the organization’s safety as it offers a multitude of benefits like:
- Testing and enabling reactive measures to respond to security incidents.
- Leveraging active threat search with SIEMs and EDRs for tracking indicators of compromise (IOCs).
- Carrying out forensic analysis for assessing the impact of the security incident.
- Executing DNS audits, scanning vulnerabilities in internal and external networks and collecting network traffic samples.
- Deploying decoys in addition to examining CVEs and zero-day vulnerabilities.
- Developing security controls on endpoints such as laptops, mobiles, desktops,
Challenges Faced by Blue Team
Studies have shown that 62% of blue teams cannot defeat red teams in Adversary Simulation Exercises. This is because, in a constantly evolving security environment, system hardening can be daunting for blue teams if the
- Networks are perforated with security gaps
- Processes are not well-defined
- Technologies are non-functional
Red Team + Blue Team=Purple Team: Collaboration is the Strength
In most cases, the red team and the blue team work in silos, despite sharing the common goal of bolstering enterprise security. This prevents both the teams from exchanging their methods, data, research or any valuable insights critical to strengthening the security posture. As a result, the security exercises become ineffective.
This is where the purple team steps in. The purple security team brings the red team and the blue team together to work as a single unit, improve the organization’s security and share information on resources, insights and reporting. To enable this, the purple team fosters a culture of communication and collaboration among the red and blue teams.
How Does a Purple Team Work?
Purple Teaming believes in the collaborative approach to enhancing business security. Meaning, the red team and the blue team join hands together in implementing the security process, starting from identification to the remediation phase. The purple security team, on the other hand, notes down the gaps in the security defenses and recommends strategies for strengthening overall cybersecurity. This includes leveraging security controls, upgrading existing or implementing new security policies, training employees, or allocating cyber defense resources and investments. The main objective of the purple team is to build a cyber-resilient organization.
Advantages of Having a Purple Team
One of the main advantages of setting up a purple team is to develop defense mechanisms against security threats before any attacker gains entry to the system. Other than this preventive approach, the purple team also:
- Enables seamless collaboration among red and blue teams.
- Implements effective security and threat detection.
- Streamlines security and time management.
- Updates on the latest security trends, new and emerging threats.
- Offers learning opportunities and training workshops to both red and blue teams.
- Provides real-time insights into the problem areas of the security systems and suggests immediate solutions.
- Delivers customized, tailor-made strategies and solutions, catering to specific security needs and issues
Challenges Faced by Purple Team
There are organizations that have limited communication channels or are used to working in siloed departments. In such cases, purple teams usually find it cumbersome to maintain continuous communication among the red and blue teams. In the case of a small or medium-sized organization, purple teaming can be an expensive affair as it costs a bomb to hire highly skilled, qualified and trained cybersecurity experts and specialists. This is exactly why organizations need to properly assess their security requirements and risk profiles before even establishing the purple team.
Ramp up Your Cybersecurity Efforts with Cloud4C
One thing is for sure. Cybersecurity is a team sport. Each team, with its own set of skills, knowledge and strengths, ensures your organization always stays one step ahead of security threats. The good news is you, too, can build a powerful cybersecurity team with Cloud4C.
Cloud4C, one of the leading cloud-managed service providers, offers a holistic suite of managed security services to strengthen your cyber defense team. These services include monitoring, governance and compliance of security systems and platforms.
Equip your cybersecurity team with Cloud4C’s advanced MDR solutions, security policies, SOC operations for deep-threat landscape management, DevSecOps ecosystems, and smart cloud security technologies. Not just this, your team gets rapid 24/7 support coupled with security consulting services. If that’s not all, our managed security services have helped a leading Canadian healthcare giant in strengthening its security landscape along with offering agile operations, and uninterrupted global service excellence.
If you are interested in learning more about our security solutions, get in touch with us today!