Most people have seen hackers or hacker groups portrayed in mainstream media and have a visual in mind of what they look like: malicious actors in dark rooms staring at a wall of screens and code. The same follows for a cybersecurity team – they’re not simply “fix-it” guys who come in to repair the mess but have a various range of roles to ensure that not only can hacks be reversed and data recovered, but that prevention protocol is in place to ensure security. Today we’ll discuss what these protocols are, and the different teams within a larger cybersecurity team environment.
The Blue Team
Much like how hackers are often differentiated by colours (e.g., “Black hat” or “White hat” hackers), cybersecurity teams are often divided into colour teams. The blue team is your traditional cybersecurity team. They consist of cybersecurity specialists who protect the company’s web and data assets against risks and threats.
Blue teams must be aware of a variety of different factors. First, they must understand what the company is wanting to protect. If the company’s business model is a SaaS, not only are there company assets to protect, but also customer data as it most likely contains Personal Identification Information (PII) as well as financial information. Blue teams also must be aware of what information is accessible and by whom. If company employees are working remotely, they must ensure that this can be done securely to avoid remote employees opening up backdoors for hackers to access private information.
Blue teams should also be aware of the security solutions available to protect said assets. A Web Application & API solution (WAAP++) is an essential component to secure any company’s assets, as 90% of hacking incidents are targeted at web applications since it covers all three layers of the IT system (application, system, network). Web application attacks cause the most amount of damage, meaning the highest security is necessary. In addition to a WAAP++, Blue teams may also use encryption and authentication to ensure that all assets are covered and protected.
Regular monitoring of these solutions as well as the company’s security measures are key. Additionally, Blue teams are often the ones establishing company-wide protocol and initiating training to ensure that those utilizing the networks, systems, and applications are aware of how to properly access the data.
The Red Team
A Red team is much like a group of white hat hackers. Instead of putting protocols in place that secure the company, they spend much of the time planning and carrying out cyberattacks on their own company’s IT system to figure out if it’s actually protecting the web and data assets as it should.
Much of a Red team’s activities will involve testing but testing has many different facets.
1) Vulnerability Scanning
The Red team will assess any vulnerabilities in the system to ensure that the security solutions are functioning at the maximum security level. Vulnerability scanning is done regularly to ensure consistent analysis. Now, this may not sound all that different from what the Blue team does, but the vulnerability scanning that a Red team does is much more intrusive. They utilize techniques like software static testing to test the object or source code to uncover major issues like leaks or buffer overflows. Software dynamic testing is also executed to find weak areas in runtime environments. This will give a good initial overview of how the system needs to be improved.
2) Fuzz Testing
Fuzz testing is another type of testing the Red team will execute. Instead of executing a certain code, the team will execute “fuzz” or invalid/random data to see how the application or software will react. Reactions can range from absolutely nothing to crashes, memory leaks, or failed code. Fuzzing is useful because, more often than not, attacks are initiated by human beings but delivered through an automatic program. Fuzz testing can replicate this to ensure that the security system will work properly if/when the time comes.
3) Penetration Testing
Penetration testing uses known cyberattacks to simulate attacks, identifying vulnerabilities in the current IT system. By imitating real-world attacks, they can find backdoors or exploits that could cause major damage if initiated by an actual hacker with malintent.
Additionally, while fuzzing might deal with the “what-ifs,” penetration testing is targeted, focusing on what happens when a company is hit with a very specific type of attack.
The Purple Team
What happens then after the vulnerabilities and risks are found within an IT system? There may be a Purple team, whose objective it is to improve the systems and facilitate the process in securing those vulnerabilities. They will run through the data provided by the Red team, and see what the current status of the systems is from the Blue team, and mediate between the two to implement changes.
The Purple team can be a separate team altogether, or simply the process of both teams coming together to come up with a solution to move forward.
Having proper security solutions implemented makes the teams’ jobs easier, ensuring that risks are minimized. Cybersecurity teams aren’t just waiting around to respond to the next incident. Constantly testing protocols, implementing changes, and doing it all over again, different specialists take on different responses to ensure that the security solutions in place are truly keeping assets secure.