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Blog Header graphic of halo themed Red teams vs Blue teams

Red Teams vs Blue Teams: What's the Difference?

Table of Contents

Introduction 

Cybersecurity goes beyond just implementing antivirus into your stack or conducting an annual phishing awareness training. There are policies and strategies that must be implemented, reviewed, and improved upon. Hence, the development of the Red Team and the Blue Team. 

Dynamics of the Red Team and Blue Team 

The Red Team and Blue Team each serve a different function with a common goal: to make your organization as cyber-resilient as possible. The Red Team simulates a cyberattack on your organization, attempting to breach your active security strategies, whereas the Blue Team constructs the defenses in which the Red Team is trying to defeat. The process goes back and forth for as long as you want, or until you find a strategy that can stop the Red Team from bypassing what you (or your Blue Team) have constructed. It is still recommended to revisit utilizing these two teams down the road to close any gaps that may have emerged in your security strategy over time. 

What is the Red Team in Cybersecurity? 

The Red Team consists of skilled cybersecurity and IT professionals that are hired to attempt to break into your organization’s infrastructure via ethical hacking techniques. Teams usually consist of vulnerability experts, auditors, ethical hackers, and penetration testers, who adopt techniques commonly utilized by actual threat actors to test the strength of your organization’s cybersecurity defenses. By simulating a cyberattack on your organization (with your consent) the Red Team can identify the vulnerabilities within your cybersecurity strategy, whether it be human error, unpatched applications and software, or weak passwords, to name a few options. 

Threat actors who have gained access to your organization’s infrastructure are not going to tell you that they have gained entry, nor will they inform you of how. They will simply conduct their actions until they are noticed and stopped or jump straight to loading your machines with malware. By hiring a Red Team, you can discover how real threat actors could grant themselves unauthorized access to your environment and make an adjustment before you are at the mercy of their malicious agenda. 

Related: Fighting Fire with Fire – What is Ethical Hacking? 

What Is the Blue Team in Cybersecurity?

The Blue Team is responsible for constructing a cybersecurity strategy designed to block the Red Team, and more importantly, threat actors, from successfully infiltrating your organization. Organizations may either have an internal Blue Team (IT Department that also handles cybersecurity) or outsource it to service providers like MSPs (Managed Service Providers) or MSSPs (Managed Security Service Providers). A Blue Team will usually consist of cybersecurity analysts, security analysts and engineers, incident and disaster responders, and other information security specialists. The Blue Team, whether internal or outsourced, is constantly working to improve cybersecurity efforts through risk assessments, vulnerability patching, and threat intelligence. 

As the ones tasked with the duty of detecting, responding to, and even preventing cyberattacks, the Blue Team is responsible for continuously innovating your organization’s defenses to stay a step ahead of threat actors weaponizing ever-evolving technology. In addition to this, there is a list of frameworks your organization should become compliant with, almost all of which align in that they require the implementation of proactive cybersecurity; something that many Blue Teams are beginning to adopt to mitigate the risk of business-ending malware. 

Related: How to Build a Proactive Cybersecurity Approach 

How the Red Team and Blue Team Collaborate: What Is the Purple Team in Cybersecurity? 

Red Teams and Blue Teams tend to work independently of each other. The Red Team continuously attempts to infiltrate your organization while the Blue Team continuously defends it. The “Purple Team,” however, is formed when the Red Team and Blue Team are in harmonious communication with one another. As mentioned earlier, they both have the same goal: to make your organization as cyber-resilient as possible. The two teams, now one team, share reports, analysis, and information on how the other team is underperforming and/or could be optimizing their strategies. By communicating with one another, they can each improve their tactics of attack and defense, repeatedly influencing each other’s growth, and, thus, improving your organization’s resiliency to real-world cyberattacks. 

Conclusion

Almost every organization has some form of Blue Team in that they are, in one way or another, doing what they can to secure their organization’s physical and digital assets and data, but how often are they being tested? Threat actors will continue to operate within your infrastructure until either you find out or they decide to take malicious actions. By hiring a Red Team to test the vulnerabilities within your existing security strategy, and then communicating back and forth with your Blue Team on how they can frequently optimize your security stack, you create a strong Purple Team and cyber-resilience contingency.  

ThreatLocker Stumps the Red Team 

In an interview at the annual ThreatLocker event, Zero Trust World 2023, Cody Kretsinger, a Security Advisor with Galactic Advisors, shared his ideal list of cybersecurity implementations: strong passwords, MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication), securing external vulnerabilities, phishing filters, and endpoint security (more specifically EDR [Endpoint Detection and Response] and Application Whitelisting). Kretsinger goes on to share how he feels about trying to get past ThreatLocker and a proper EDR. “If you want to make my day really, really bad... put [EDR tool] on with ThreatLocker... It's very, very difficult to do anything.” 

If you would like to learn how ThreatLocker can fit into your Blue Team’s cybersecurity toolbelt, schedule a product demo with a Cyber Hero Team Member.