What is Red Teaming?
Red teaming is a practice where the security team pretends to be the attacker and tries to break into an organization’s network. By attacking the organization in this manner, security teams gain insight into the weaknesses of the network. Additionally, it determines the performance of current practices and policies.
Red teaming is also known as red team operations, red team ops, and red team security testing. The testing can be done with external professional cybersecurity contractors or internal teams. External teams are preferred as they can provide a neutral and more knowledgeable report of the findings.
Red teams work in a very different manner than the blue team ops. Blue team ops help the organization by strengthening its defenses on the inside. Red team ops help the organization by revealing its security weaknesses from the attacker's perspective.
Red Teaming in Other Sectors
Red team ops are not just limited to cybersecurity applications. Red teams tactics are also used by the military, police, airport security, intelligence agencies of governments, and transport security administrations.
Purpose of Red Team Security Testing
Red team security testing is done to identify the elements that can lead to a cyberattack. It also provides realistic information on the consequences of a successful cyberattack. To achieve the objectives, it is important to hire a certified cybersecurity agency like Tekkis. Since the red testing emulates a real cyberattack, non-certified professionals can cause serious damage and data loss.
How Red Teaming Works?
Red team security testing is a multi-stage process. Careful attention is required at every step of the way. The various steps involved in the process are:
Step 1: Planning
Planning takes the most time in the entire red teaming process. Planning is done by experienced cybersecurity professionals to outline the objectives of the red team operation. Goals are very precise, such as gaining access to a server X and viewing protected data.
The planning stage also involves determining the types of attacks that will be carried out. Common examples include social engineering attacks, phishing, penetration testing, etc.
Step 2: Primary Reconnaissance
Primary reconnaissance is done to collect information on the organization’s IT infrastructure. There are many ways to do this, such as sniffing data packets. The reconnaissance stage is relatively easy for a skilled ethical hacker. The useful information collected in this stage can include:
- The number of devices in the organization’s network.
- Types of devices, such as desktops, phones, printers, routers, etc.
- Operating systems.
- Software and software versions.
- Types of security solutions such as firewalls and access controls.
- Analysis of network ports.
- Mapping the network.
- Physical security protocols like locks, CCTVs, doors, bionic authorization, and security guards.
Step 3: Executing Initial Breach
Once the red team has all the information they require, they start with the initial breach. This is done through the weaknesses and exploits found in the reconnaissance phase. If the attack is successful, the red team secures their stealth entry into the network.
Step 4: Pushing Access Limits
The red team keeps on pushing their access and tries to stretch the attack as far as they can. This is done by exploiting access controls and stealing user login details.This stage also helps in discovering further loopholes.
Step 5 Secondary Reconnaissance
The secondary reconnaissance is done after the attacker has breached the system defenses and created secure backdoors. Secondary reconnaissance aims to discover the internal vulnerabilities in the network.
Step 6: Complete Objective
Red team ops will now complete the mission objective, such as stealing the organization's data. While the red team impersonates the attacker, the data packaging and transfer occur securely so no actual third parties can view it.
Step 7: Compiling Report
The findings of the entire red team ops are compiled in a report. The report is then presented to the organization’s CISO or any other executive in charge of overseeing network security. How to proceed further and fix the vulnerabilities is up to the CISO. Expert cybersecurity professionals like Tekkis can provide complete guidance on this.
Different Types of Red Team Tools
Red team ops have a number of attacking tools to breach the organization’s network. The successful use of these tactics depend on the skill level of the professionals. Some of these tools are:
Social engineering is one of the most common tactics used by hackers. Therefore, red team employs this tactic as well. Social engineering attacks aim to exploit the organization’s staff to give away crucial information. Social engineering attacks can occur through text messages, emails, phone calls, and even social media.
Phishing is a specific type of social engineering attack. In phishing, the attacker creates a fake website that appears to look genuine to the employee. When the employee enters their credentials on the fake website, the credentials immediately go to the attacker.
Penetration testing attacks are specially designed for red teams to evaluate the security level of the network. The attacks are usually carried out by an ethical hacker. There is written consent of the cybersecurity agency with the organization about the nature of the attack. Penetration Testing is of three types:
- White Box: In white box testing, the organization provides the ethical hacker with detailed background information.
- Gray Box: In gray box testing, the organization provides the ethical hacker with limited information about the company and the network.
- Black Box: In black box testing, the organization provides negligible information to the ethical hacker. In many cases, only the company name is provided.
Additionally, penetration testing is carried out in multiple ways, all of which are necessary for evaluating organizational security. We will briefly discuss the three ways here:
Network Penetration Testing
In network penetration testing, the ethical hacker will try to breach the network and the various systems on the network. This helps in evaluating the network vulnerabilities.
Software Penetration Testing
Software penetration testing is also called application penetration testing. This test will identify all the flaws and loopholes present in the applications used by an organization.
Physical Penetration Testing
Physical penetration testing is done at the organization’s offices or headquarters. In these tests, the ethical hacker will try to bypass the security measures in place, such as guards and cameras. They can also try to access the systems unattended by employees. Fortunately for you, Tekkis specializes in all of these penetration testing tactics. To learn more and request a quote, you can get in touch with our experts.
Advantages of Red Teaming
There are many advantages of red team ops. Regardless of the business you run, this security testing method can be quite crucial. Let us go through its advantages one by one:
Learning About Loopholes
Red team testing helps the executives learn about the security loopholes and threats they currently have. This is the primary purpose of red teaming. Once they learn about these threats, they can fix it before the attack occurs.
Red team security testing provides expert opinions by external contractors. This gives the organization’s executives a clearer idea of their current standing. Internal audits can be a little biased, making them less trustable.
Red team tactics use the exact same breaching methods that the attackers will use. This gives better real-world information on cybersecurity defenses.
Identifying Staff Awareness
Tactics like physical penetration tests help in evaluating the alertness of the company’s employees. If red team reports indicate poor staff awareness, the company can take staff training measures which are very easy.
Red team ops save the company a ton of money when you consider the amount spent on the cost of successful cyberattacks. Of course, the company will have to spend a little to hire cybersecurity professionals. However, if they ignore red team ops, they will have to spend hundreds of thousands (and even millions) in paying for ransomware and data recovery
Creating Company Policies
Red teaming helps in realizing the parameters that are important to improve. The company can set its priorities straight with these reports. The red team reports also help in drafting company policies, especially when it comes to IT and cybersecurity.
Getting a professional team for red team testing can help you in meeting the security compliances for your business. Ignoring such tests can result in serious penalties in case of a future data breach or ransomware attack.
Red Team vs. Blue Team Cybersecurity
Blue teams fortify an organization’s defenses from the inside. Blue teams are complementary to red teams. While red teams try to breach the network externally, blue teams take a number of technical measures, like installing security solutions and configuring various settings. To know more details on the differences between these two, read our article on red-team vs. blue-team testing .
Tips to Optimize Red Teaming Operations
There are many steps that you can take to optimize the red team operations for your business. Here are some of these tips:
- Written Agreement: Have everything in writing. Provide written consent to the cybersecurity agency that you willingly allow the red team security testing.
- Scope of the attack: If you want to exclude any particular areas of your network from red team ops, you should discuss it with the cybersecurity professional beforehand.
- Use Certified Professionals: Red team ops is an extremely sensitive work. Choose only certified and skilled professionals for the job. For instance, Tekkis has all the credentials required for red team ops.
- Understand red team ops conditions: Red team ops aim to breach your network as attackers do. They will employ the same tactics as hackers without holding back. If you want to set limits on what they can do, have a clear discussion with the professional beforehand. However, understand that if you disallow any tactic or any area, it leaves room for potential attacks.
How to Do Red Team Security Testing For Your Company?
Tekkis is the best solution for red team testing for your company. Tekkis has a team of experts with decades of experience on every type of security threat. The ethical hackers on the team know how cybercriminals work and target your systems. Additionally, every team member has a number of certifications to ensure complete technical expertise.
The best part is that Tekkis is completely based in the US and operates exclusively here. Therefore, it has a deep understanding of the local laws and understands the importance of data security and client confidentiality.
Red team testing has become the industry standard for healthy cybersecurity practices. It is no longer an option you can ignore. Additionally, as the information above indicates, red team testing provides you with a detailed insight that no other method can provide. By knowing how the attackers’ minds work, you can stop their attacks before they harm your business.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some common questions that people ask regarding red team security testing:
Is red teaming safe?
Red teaming is a safe practice. However, to ensure safety, it is important to hire certified professionals who know what they are doing. Unskilled ethical hackers can do more harm than good. Tekkis is a great red team ops agency that can conduct security testing with utmost privacy.
Why do they call it red team testing?
The red team is called so because of the red color of Soviet uniforms. The term originated during the cold war tensions between US and the Soviet Union. US military used to perform red team ops, and the people impersonating the attackers wore red Soviet uniforms.
Who does red team testing?
Red team testing is done by certified IT security agencies with expertise in various tactics. Currently, Tekkis is one of the leading red team ops firms in the US.