How Red and Blue Teaming helps organisations improve their cybersecurity

June 4, 2021


Red Teaming and Blue Teaming is becoming more popular amongst cybersecurity professionals, reports Stripe OLT.

The last few years have witnessed a change in the nature of cyber-attacks. According to the latest government statistics, there has been a dramatic rise in phishing attacks, pointing to the trend of hackers specifically targeting remote workers. This increase in social engineering means that it is now crucial for business leaders to secure both their systems and their workforce if they want comprehensive protection.

Enforcing offensive security techniques are therefore a necessity for organisations to be truly prepared for a cyber-attack.

One method gaining popularity is ‘red teaming’ vs ‘blue teaming’, a strategic exercise undertaken by cybersecurity professionals to both attack and defend, and one that is particularly popular within high-risk trades such as government or defence industries.

Originating in the armed forces, the Red Team vs Blue Team practice has been modelled on military training exercises to provide an all-encompassing approach to attacking and defending. Essentially, anything aimed at purposefully attacking is deemed as red, and anything aimed at defending is deemed as blue. This military-based approach can easily be transferred into robust cybersecurity testing for businesses to gauge how and where their network or workforce could be compromised – therefore, gaining actionable guidance for improvement.

What is Red Teaming?

If an organisation opts to utilise this exercise, the ‘Red Team’ would consist of highly-trained, offensive security professionals. These ‘Ethical Hackers’ will then perform a range of multi-faceted, simulated attack methods, with the goal to exploit any and all weaknesses with the goal to infiltrate your systems, compromise your data and avoid detection.

These experts can also test your current security defenders if you have an internal security team.

The Red Team would use real-world techniques and adversary methods in order to gain initial access, including: Penetration Testing; Social Engineering and Phishing Campaigns.

What is Blue Teaming?

Blue Teaming usually consists of a team of defensive security and incident response professionals who are dedicated to working to defend the internal network against threats. The Blue Team would usually discover the scope of what needs protection, carry out a risk assessment for all assets, before performing the proactive defensive operations required to strengthen and protect the network.

These operations can include: Employee Education; Vulnerability Assessments; SIEM Solutions; Security by Design and Security Operations Centre

Red Team vs Blue Team

A successful Red Team, Blue Team exercise involves the Red Team ‘white hat hacking’ (otherwise known as Ethical Hacking) the Blue Team in order to test how secure the network is and to see how effective the Blue Team’s incident response process is.

Once the simulated attacks have taken place, the teams can report their findings.

If the Red Team successfully gained unauthorised entry, they can then advise the Blue Team on what preventative measures to take in order to mitigate the core impact of a real attack. This concept is also known as ‘Purple Teaming’, where red and blue work together to develop stronger security controls.

Communication between these two teams is key for success – the Red Team should stay at the forefront of the threat landscape, keeping up-to-date with relevant real-world methods being used by hackers, and informing the Blue Team on any new threats who can then adopt the appropriative defensive measures. Likewise, the Blue Team should stay fully informed on the innovative technologies emerging to improve security.

Key benefits

Utilising the methods used in a Red team vs Blue team exercise, within an organisation, will not only allow you to identify flaws in your existing security solutions, but will also improve your overarching cybersecurity strategy.

By proactively testing organisation defences in a low-risk environment, you are able to constantly evolve your security strategy based on relevant, real-world threats, patching any existing vulnerabilities and testing and improving your incident response plan.

Through essentially finding the gaps, before fixing the gaps, this ethical hacking training exercise ensures that any weaknesses in the people, technologies or systems of your organisation are detected and resolved with no real risk to the business.

How Stripe OLT’s Ethical Hackers can help

Stripe OLT are CREST certified Penetration Testers. The company’s dedicated security team are also SANs, QSTM and GCHQ certified, in addition to holding the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) qualification – the recognised credential of choice for those looking to pursue Ethical Hacking.

To find out more information about how Stipe OLT’s highly accredited experts test and protect organisations, get in touch with their SOC team here. You can also visit their website here:


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