What is Red Team in Cyber Security?

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Testing your organization's capacity to stop, identify, and respond to attacks is essential since cyber threats are changing at an entirely unknown rate.

As in every other area of life, preparation is key in cyber security. A proactive strategy is necessary to properly fight against the most recent threats, and security controls and procedures must be routinely evaluated to make sure they are suitable for the purpose.

This article examines how red teaming, a thorough type of ethical hacking engagement, might aid in helping you identify and close defense gaps, set priorities for future security spending, and get a better understanding of the cyber security dangers facing your company.

What is Red Team in Cyber Security?

Red teams are ethical hackers that assist organizations in testing their defenses by discovering vulnerabilities and conducting cyberattacks in a controlled setting. Defenders known as blue teams fight red teams, and both groups cooperate to present a whole picture of corporate security preparedness.

In the world of information security, the good guys frequently dress in red while assuming the role of the bad guys.

This is a reference to the technique known as red teaming, which uses an outside group to test an organization's systems, defenses, or operational plans to assist it to find and fix flaws.

Red teaming is a practice that is frequently connected to information security, but it is also used in the government and intelligence sectors.

How Does a Red Team Work?

You might be shocked to find that red teams devote more effort to attack strategy than attack execution. Red teams can penetrate a network in several ways.

For instance, social engineering attacks use reconnaissance and research to offer personalized spear phishing efforts. Similarly to this, before doing a penetration test, the network is scanned and as much data about the system as possible is gathered using packet sniffers and protocol analyzers.

Typically, the following data is acquired during this stage:

  • Identifying the used operating systems (Windows, macOS, or Linux).
  • Recognising the brand and model of networking hardware (servers, firewalls, switches, routers, access points, computers, etc.).
  • Knowing how to use controls physically (doors, locks, cameras, security personnel).
  • Discovering which firewall ports are open/closed to permit/block particular traffic
  • Generating a network map to identify which servers are hosting certain services and identifying the routes that traffic is taking.

When the red team has a better understanding of the system, they create a plan of attack that focuses on weaknesses unique to the knowledge they have obtained thus far.

For instance, a red team security member could be aware that a server is running Microsoft Windows Server 2016 R2, the server operating system, and that the default domain policies might still be in effect.

Microsoft "ships" its software in its default configuration, leaving it to network administrators to change the policies. Microsoft advises that you do this as soon as feasible to tighten network security. An attacker may attempt to breach the inadequate security precautions in place if they were left in their default condition.

When vulnerabilities are found, a red team breaches your network using those flaws. Once an attacker has gained access to your system, the conventional course of action is to utilize privilege escalation tactics to steal the credentials of an administrator who has greater/full access to the most sensitive information.

Examples of Red Team Security Exercises

Red teams employ a range of techniques and equipment to take advantage of network flaws and vulnerabilities. It's vital to remember that red teams will employ all means required to access your system following the conditions of engagement. Depending on the vulnerability, they may use malware to infect hosts or even circumvent physical security measures by copying access cards.

Red team security drills include the following examples:

  • Penetration testing, commonly referred to as ethical hacking, is the process of trying to get into a system while frequently employing software tools. For example, 'John the Ripper' is a password-cracking application. It can determine what kind of encryption is being used and attempt to get around it.
  • When the Red Team uses social engineering, they try to convince or manipulate employees to provide their login information or grant access to a secure area.
  • Phishing is the practice of tricking staff members into performing specific tasks, such as visiting the hacker's website and entering their login information, by sending them emails that appear to be from a trusted source.
  • Intercepting communication software tools like packet sniffers and protocol analyzers can be used to map a network or read clear text communications. These tools' main objective is to learn more about the system. For instance, if an attacker is aware that a server is using the Microsoft operating system, they would concentrate their efforts on finding ways to exploit Microsoft's security flaws.
  • Using a security card clone to get access to locations with no restrictions, such as a server room.

Why Red Teaming is Very Important?

The increasing number of yearly security breaches disclosed by today's businesses and governments serves as more evidence of how difficult it is to maintain robust organizational security. As businesses continue to migrate to the cloud, security experts are under even greater pressure to set up strong defenses in hybrid settings.

Red teaming is essential for leveling the playing field between attackers and defenders. It enables security vulnerability defenders to abandon their defensive stance of reaction, adopt the attitude of the attacker, and employ an aggressive strategy.

The truth is that no firm is safe, even though some businesses may depend on security by obscurity or believe that their compact size makes them less likely targets.

Attackers sometimes target smaller businesses because they have weaker defenses or because they want to use the network of that business as a launching pad for a further assault on a larger business farther down the supply chain. Red teaming may be adapted to practically any organization since it is versatile enough to concentrate on dangers that are unique to a company's size or sector.

Given the situation, it's reasonable to conclude that red teaming ought to be a fundamental security tool for almost any modern firm.

Benefits of a Red Team Security

The following benefits can be obtained by organizations who use a red teaming service:

  • Examine defense readiness against actual cyberattacks.
  • Assess the performance of security-related personnel, technology, and procedures.
  • Identify and categorize a variety of security concerns.
  • Boost the efficiency of the detection and reaction processes.
  • Identify flaws that were not detected by alternative testing methods.
  • Deal with hazards and reduce vulnerabilities.
  • Get advice on potential security purchases in the future.

Red Teaming Methodology

Red teaming often employs an intelligence-driven, black-box technique to extensively evaluate organizations' detection and response capabilities. This approach will likely include the following:


For any red teaming effort to be successful, top-notch intelligence is essential. Ethical hackers employ a range of open-source intelligence tools, methodologies, and resources to gather the information that may be exploited to successfully infiltrate the target organization. This could contain information about the workforce, the environment, and the technology in use.

Staging & Weaponisation

The next phase of an engagement is staging, which involves locating, setting up, and concealing the resources required to carry out the attack. This is done after weaknesses have been found and an attack strategy has been developed. This might involve creating harmful code and unique malware, setting up servers to conduct Command & Control (C2) and social engineering operations, or all of the above.

Attack Delivery

This level of red teaming entails compromising and gaining access to the target network. To achieve their goal, ethical hackers may try to take advantage of vulnerabilities that have been found, use brute force to break weak employee passwords, and generate phony email exchanges to conduct phishing attacks and deliver harmful payloads, such as malware.

Internal Compromise

The following phase of the red team engagement is focused on attaining the agreed-upon objective(s) once a foothold has been established on the target network. Lateral network movement, privilege escalation, physical breach, command and control activity, and data exfiltration are all examples of activities that might be carried out at this point.

Reporting and Analysis

Following the conclusion of the red teaming engagement, a thorough client report is created to aid technical and non-technical people in understanding the effectiveness of the exercise. This report includes an overview of vulnerabilities found, the attack routes employed, and suggestions on how to fix and mitigate any risks found.

Red Team vs. Blue Team in Cyber Security

A Red Team is created to find and evaluate vulnerabilities, test presumptions, consider alternative attack vectors, and expose the restrictions and security concerns for a company whereas, the Blue Team is responsible for identifying opponents and stopping them from accessing the organization's infrastructure.

The Red Team's objective is to evaluate your organization's security posture to examine how it will hold up against impending real-time threats. Team building activities are also known as "red-teaming" since the participants are acting as attackers.

The Blue Team's objectives throughout the assault simulation are to locate breaches quickly, contain the virus to the system it entered via, and successfully halt the attack. Blue Team can start preparing for an attack by assessing the surroundings and hardening where necessary. The Blue Team may be tasked with developing or carrying out recovery strategies in some scenarios.

Learn More


  • Red Teaming offers the most realistic test of your organization's and your systems' security measures against a cyberattack.
  • If your firm is in charge of user data or relies on software systems to function daily, you are subject to ransomware and data exfiltration attacks.
  • When designing software, it is critical to test the security of your goods and services to safeguard your consumers against attacks that abuse your system.
  • Red teaming should be a regular activity with all discoveries being communicated and taken into consideration if you want to maximize its effectiveness.