Red team assessments are activities driven by a group of specialized personnel focused on ethically challenging an organization’s ability to withstand attacks from adversaries. The team conducts simulated real attacks from threat actors’ position, similar to which an adversary would perform to breach defenses. The organization’s management team and stakeholders provide simulation tasks and goals to the red team. However, the tasks assigned are not known to the rest of the employees or personnel located on the campus.
Here are ten key reasons why organizations should consider red team testing:
1. Red Teaming is more than just “Penetration Testing”
Red teaming is not just a penetration testing activity. Red Team includes well-known tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) used by adversaries to simulate targeted attacks. The mission is to present real-world scenarios and hard facts in an attempt to improve the organization’s response. The goal of the Red team is to not find as many exploitable vulnerabilities as possible but to test the detection and response capabilities of the organization along with their security environment. It consists of every scenario an attacker could think and is more than just finding an application breach, remote code execution, or a missing patch. It is also not limited to, developing malware specifically to organizational rules or enhancing existing practices being followed to block external attacks. Red team activities involve all aspects related to evaluate security preparedness and measure effectiveness of the people, processes, and technology used to defend organizations from exposure to real-world attacks. It can access and evaluate various aspects of security through a multi-layered approach.
2. Save brand reputation
GDPR compliance mandate has made organizations realize the importance of customer data and the need to protect it. Red team activity can actively help companies protect customer data from unauthorized access and calculate the amount of information that should be collected to avoid unforeseen incidents.
3. Ensure dollar savings
Non-compliance of GDPR can result in stiff fines and penalties. Failing to achieve compliance can lead to data breaches resulting in financial losses and dents brand reputation. The damages can also lead to a decline in customer trust and market share. Red teaming services can help organizations test cyber resiliency and enable them to understand how susceptible they are to be being breached.
4. Learn valuable lessons
Red team testing activity is not a competition against the blue team (responsible for defense activities). Instead, the red team actions explain the loopholes encountered during the progress of the activity. The outcome is a progressive learning measure to understand weakness and secure your organization for the better.
5. Evaluate security team activity and capabilities
Red teaming helps to test and evaluate the effectiveness of implemented security controls, policies & procedures, analyze and understand IT department practices such as software update cycles, security awareness, request management, level of permissions required, etc. The activity also includes a close evaluation of the SOC & NOC team (regarded as the blue team) incident detection & response capabilities and their preparedness to combat cyber-attacks.
6. Identify vulnerable employees and assess security awareness
Red teaming also tests the organizational responsibilities of each individual and the way they handle information in response to social engineering attacks, e.g., phishing, vishing, etc. Information disclosure through weak handling or storage of sensitive files or credentials by employees. Employees are a critical line of defense, and through a red team exercise, organizations can identify vulnerable employees and train them for better security awareness.
7. Detect loopholes and tighten security
Red teaming outcomes can help organizations clearly understand the flaws or loopholes in existing policies, processes, and systems. The exercise can help them in framing newer policies to tighten security across the organization.
8. Know the weakness in infrastructure and applications
Red teams do not get any prior information about target infrastructure & applications that they have to attack. This lack of information enables red team members to view applications and infrastructure from a hacker’s point of view. The approach would be different from grey or white box penetration testing and can help blue teams find hidden or zero-day vulnerabilities, understand if existing security controls & defenses can be bypassed or overwhelmed through offensive attack scenarios.
9. Assess organization’s security readiness
Red teaming can challenge the confidence of the security team by finding loopholes in the existing security framework. The exercise outcomes provide a practical security overview through the assessment of people, processes, technologies in place, and can sensitize security teams on the hackers' mindset and what they should do to protect technology environments from the latest cyber-attacks and APT cyber kill chain.
10. Get a documented report on current security stature
Red team exercises are not about random attacks on infrastructure or challenging physical security. It is a well-planned event that involves a dedicated amount of time to collect valuable information from the target. The exercise focuses on goal-based scenarios and the TTP (Tools, Tactics & Procedures) outline to perform an engagement. Red team exercises require leadership consent, and the event is disclosed only to a few members of the top management. Though this activity is time-consuming, it can yield valuable results. Post completion of the exercise, the red team operations, event timeline, observations, defense gaps, and recommendations get documented. This documentation gives the consent approver insightful information on the current security stature of the organization.
To understand how red team assessments are perfomed by Aujas Cybersecurity experts, please click here.