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Red Teaming: Things you should know!

Through our earlier blogs, you might have better developed insights into how valuable a Penetration Testing Team stands for enterprises in the current threat landscape. Also, we have gone through different approaches to penetration testing in broad strokes. However, the story is not ending as we missed the golden standard of pen test – leveraging cybersecurity experts known as a Red Teaming or simply Red Team.

What is a Red Teaming?

Red teaming marks a multi-layered, full scope cyberattack simulation schemed to test the effectiveness of enterprise security controls. The process encloses networks, applications, physical safeguards, and employees. As noted above, the purpose of red teaming is to let companies understand how immune they are to real-world hacking adversaries.

A Red Team lives in close conjunction with many other teams in the security landscape. Yes, we are talking about the Blue Teams – who can work closely with Red Teams but targets the improvement of systems from the inside. Similarly, Purple Teams use a mixture of adversarial and defensive approaches in the security world. Red teaming is like ethical hacking, during which actors won’t cause any actual harm but instead penetrate the systems to locate vulnerabilities.

So, what is the team motto here? In fact, organizations hardly understand how secure and resilient their systems and controls are until the security posture is compromised. Simulating a real-world attack through red teaming talks the worth before the time ticks ahead. Meanwhile, your Blue Team will then be asked to defend the attack as if it was real.

Red Teaming vs Penetration Testing

Red Teaming vs Penetration Testing

Red team exercises address a more advanced persistent threat (APT) scenario and check defensive strategies providing precise risk analysis.Pen testing is significant but marks a subset of red teaming. Red teaming involves evasion and persistence, privilege escalation, and exfiltration, but the pen testing exercise houses only limited exploitation. To get a clear picture, let us take different facets and compare them one by one: –

  • Time Span

It is the time frame required to complete each activity in the process. A Penetration Testing Team take less time in comparison to a Red Team. The former might finish within a week’s time with severity taken into consideration, and the latter can stretch up-to weeks or months.

  • Used Tools

Both exercises leverage unique and separate tools to achieve the goal. Pen Testing uses commercially available software tools and techniques, whereas Red Teaming uses any possible ways of exploiting or infiltration techniques to reach the target.

  • Awareness

The take on awareness is one of the evident and differentiating factors between the two. While performing a pen test, employees might be aware of what’s going on. Meanwhile, red team approaches are in a way that none of the employees will get a clue of what’s happening, helping test your true security capability.

  • Vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities uncovered during both exercises also differ. While pen testing focuses on the known vulnerability list and how well you get defended, red teams move laterally from one to multiple sets of vulnerabilities.

  • Focus

In Pen Testing exercises, the test target vulnerabilities would be pre-defined and narrow. But, in the other case, a red team focus part can stretch to multiple domains and networks.

  •  Testing

There exists a difference in the testing method also. Each system gets individually tested in pen tests, whereas Red Teaming goes for a simultaneous approach.

Red Team Operations

Now, let’s see how a Red Team exercise runs. Most red teaming simulations have various stages:

  •  Goal Mapping

Initially, Organizations would give a particular role to their Red Team. It depends on organizational requirements. For instance, one goal may be to get hold of critical information from a related server.

  • Target Reconnaissance

Once the Red Team gets a clear picture of their objective, they will start to map out the target systems, networks, applications, portals, physical scope etc.

  •  Exploit Vulnerabilities

Here is where the skill of the Red Teaming exercise really comes into the big picture. After determining which attack vectors to use, they will try using direct or indirect tactics like phishing to access your systems.

  • Probing & Escalation

Your deployed Red Team traverses your systems to achieve their primary objective. Then, they will look for more susceptibilities that can go exploited. The probe and search continue until the target goes achieved.

  •  Reporting & Analysis

After successful simulation, next is the reporting and analysis process to get the route forward. Through the phase, organizations will get clear information about their defensive capability, including vulnerabilities that require addressing.

Red Team Approaches

When rightly performed, red teaming will end up with a full-range attack on your networks, systems, and data. Red teams will use multiple tools and techniques like a hacker do while looking to penetrate. Some of the common red teaming approaches are: –

  • Network Penetration Testing

The most used approach of red teaming is Network Penetration Testing. The exercise helps identify network and system-level flaws. It includes weak session management issues, wireless network vulnerabilities, misconfigurations etc.

  • Application Penetration Testing

Application Penetration Testing looks to detect application layer weaknesses like weak session management, request forgery attacks, access control flaws, injection flaws, etc.

  • Physical Penetration Testing

Yet another used approach of Red Teaming goes with Physical Penetration Testing. The process helps determine the robustness or soundness of physical security controls.

  • Blocking Communications

Red Teams also look to compromise communications such as internal emails, texts, or even phone calls for mapping networks or gaining additional information.

  •  Social Engineering

Through social engineering techniques, Red Teams will try to exploit lack of cyber security awareness in people within an organization. It can be manipulating staff to give access credentials via phishing, text, or phone calls, to gain access to sensitive information.

The Importance of Red Teaming

In most cases, we have seen Red Teaming getting opted by bigger corporations than small-scale companies. It is because many large enterprises have the resource and budget capability to invest in that can detect the last line of threats. As a result, they would have the true picture of how well their organizational security controls stand against a real-time threat scenario.

When it comes to cyber-attack, small-scale organizations consider the process irrelevant or unimportant. And that mindset is what every attacker looks for while choosing their target. They would try to pull and penetrate all the way into the fragile mud, lacking cyber security coverage. Hence, every organization, regardless of size or domain, gets under danger of cyber threats in the current digital setting.

ValueMentor, one of the best consulting and testing firm in the cyber division, can be your Red Team success factor. Our Red Teaming Operation can facilitate the budget constraints of your business so that the critical assessment doesn’t stay far from your dream. To know more about our Red Teaming, Pen Testing, and other subset services, click here….


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