Security Audit

Red Team – Methodology and Benefits

Updated on: October 31, 2023

Red Team – Methodology and Benefits

In the world of cybersecurity and frequent calls for new ways to fight against evolving threats, cyber experts have constantly developed and come up with better and more advanced solutions to fight against cybercriminals. In this context, red teaming or red team penetration testing has remained constant in its necessity.

Red Teaming is a process that tests the current security of an organization’s system by trying to hack them like a real-world hacker. Companies either go for an in-house IT team to don on the role of hackers or contact an external team of experts for an objective and detailed perspective.

In today’s blog post we’ll dive deeper to understand what exactly is Red teaming, its benefits, the difference between Red teaming & Penetration Testing, its methodology, and so on.

What is Red Teaming?

Red Teaming vigorously tests security policies, plans, systems, and assumptions with the aid of an adversarial approach. Through these attack scenarios, the security strategy of a system and its response against an attacker is visualized in detail by an external group of cybersecurity experts.

The method and goal are to mimic a malicious attacker and break into the system of an organization. This simulation makes the Red Team methodology more reliable as it discovers the vulnerabilities of the system and enacts its possible exploitation.

How Does Red Teaming Work?

Once the agreement is done, the following are the phases of red teaming opted for by all the Red Teams:

1. Information Gathering or Reconnaissance

The Red Team process begins with reconnaissance where team members collect all the required information about the target. This information comprises of: 

  • personal details like identities, email addresses, contact numbers, etc. of the employees,
  • details of open ports or services, hosting provider, and external network IP range, 
  • API endpoints, mobile or web-based applications, 
  • previously breached credentials, and 
  • any other IoT or embedded system present in the infrastructure of the company.

2. Planning and Mapping of the attack

Once the Red Team gains knowledge about the system, they map the types of cyberattacks that will be launched and the approach of their execution. The factors that these teams consider include:

  • determining subdomains hidden from public access, 
  • misconfigurations in the cloud-based infrastructure of the client, 
  • checking for weak or default credentials, 
  • the risks that exist in the network or the web-based applications and,
  • possible exploitation tactics for all the discovered weaknesses.

3. Execution of the attack and Penetration Testing

The vast amount of information collected in the previous phases act as the base for all the attacks targeting the system. These attacks target the services through:

  • previously mapped security issues, 
  • compromising the systems used to develop applications, 
  • access of servers in the system using leaked credentials or brute force approach, 
  • target the employees who are using social engineering methodologies, and 
  • attack the client-side applications. 

4. Reporting and Documentation

Reporting is the final and the most crucial part of the entire red team process as it analyzes and understands the outcomes of the Red Team assessment. The report ideally contains a description of the types of cyberattacks conducted and their impact on the system. It lists the previously unknown security risks and vulnerabilities discovered during the procedure. 

The report also provides the remedial actions that organizations must take to resolve all the security gaps and loopholes present and the consequences that can take place if no solutions are implemented.

Benefits of Red Teaming

Red Team Methodology comprises an umbrella of techniques, including Penetration testing, to enhance the security of a target system. It provides a broader view of the security status of your organization.

Their processes include penetration testing, social engineering, physical intrusion, application layer exploitation, and network service exploitation

The key benefits of executing Red Team Methodology in an organization are as follows:

  • Evaluation: Of the defense system of the organization while being exposed to several cyberattacks, helps the organization know how secure its policies are.
  • Risk Assessment: Red Team Methodology helps to classify all the associated assets according to their level of risk.
  • Expose Vulnerabilities: It helps to discover and expose all the security issues and loopholes present in the system. 
  • Increased ROI: It also helps to maximize the return from the investment made in securing an organization. The red team testing assesses how well the security system of your organization works when attacked.
  • Compliance: Red team analysis helps companies view the areas within security that isn’t compliant with regulatory standards to fix them at the earliest.
  • Prioritization: Red team tactics can help in the prioritization of vulnerability remediation, cybersecurity measure implementation, and even security expenditure.

What Are Some Common Red Teaming Tools And Tactics?

Some of the common red team techniques include:

Application Pentesting

Application pentesting refers to the process of identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities within applications such as web or mobile applications and their APIs to understand the impact of present vulnerabilities. This process helps with its fast remediation thus reducing the chances of an actual attack.

Social Engineering

This refers to exploits carried out on people to try and obtain sensitive information such as passwords or access keys from them through manipulation. Social engineering is usually carried out through phishing scams, or by providing falsified information.

Physical Security Checks

These are checks conducted on the physical premises of an asset or its company to see how well-maintained its physical security is. Testers try to overcome the placed physical security controls to gain access to the workstations and systems of employees.

Network Security Testing

Here, the networks on which various assets within an organization operates is checked thoroughly for any vulnerabilities that might leave it susceptible to an attack resulting in data breach, loss of theft.

What is the Red Team Methodology?

Red Team assessments performed by Astra Security employ real-world adversary techniques to target the systems under test. Astra Security uses a red team software model simulating real adversary tools, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) driven by attack scenarios and goals. 

Unlike a traditional penetration test, the red team model allows for the testing of the entire security scope of an organization including people, processes, and technology. The three major Red Team phrases used during the assessment to accurately emulate a realistic threat include ‘Get In’, ‘Stay In’, and ‘Act’.

Red Teams can use several types of tests and processes to accomplish their goals. However, the Red Team Methodology remains the same for all scenarios. This starts with establishing the rules of engagement with the client by defining the scope and goals, the kind of attack methods such as social engineering and cyber-attacks, and finally, listing the exceptions that would be left out of the process.

difference between OSINT collection, enumeration, and exploitation & attacks

How is Red Team Methodology different from Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing or Pen testing is also a cybersecurity practice that companies use to assess the efficiency and reliability of their system’s security plans and policies. This helps them evaluate the potential risks and vulnerabilities present in the system’s network, hardware, platform, assets, and applications.

Red Team Methodology and penetration testing have their own merits and demerits and are best suited to accomplish specific goals. 

The Red team aims to try and get inside and gain access to the confidential information at the earliest. It mimics the actions of a hacker and tries to avoid getting detected.

On the other hand, Penetration testing tends to find as many possible risks or vulnerabilities and security configuration gaps as possible in a specific time for a system. It exploits the discovered issues and evaluates the risk due to the vulnerability.

The penetration testing process usually takes up to 1-2 weeks, while Red Team Methodology may go on for 3-4 weeks. The Red Team Assessment does not look for numerous vulnerabilities in your system. Instead, each attack takes on the mindset of a hacker who has limited time to find and exploit immediately available vulnerabilities that will help them achieve their goals. 

Therefore, penetration testing is an appropriate choice for an organization with its security in the beginning phase. However, if the company is looking for more mature security policies and security hardening measures, Red Team Methodology is the right choice. 

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Red Team Methodology gives a detailed assessment of the defense system of any organization by using multiple tactics and approaches similar to a hacker to toughen and harden the security policies of the system against a real cyberattack. Red Team in cybersecurity is crucial as it evaluates all the assets and the risk associated with them.

Red Team assessment must be done with efficiency and reliability by an internal or an external team of experts to fetch the best results for your organization. You can always contact red team service providers like Astra Security to ease your burden and stay stress-free about your organization’s security.


Who Needs Red Teaming?

An organization that has put significant efforts into strengthening its security and needs to evaluate how well it fares against a real-time attack, needs red teaming.

What is the purpose of red teaming?

The purpose of red teaming is to try and overcome the defenses mounted by the blue team in order to penetration the asset security successfully. This gives an indication of the vulnerabilities present and its impact.

What is red vs blue teaming?

Red team and blue team are essentially two sides of same the coin, red teaming refers to the offensive team in charge of attacking where as blue teaming is concerned with putting up a defense.

What is an example of red teaming?

A prime example of red teaming is social engineering where testers manipulate employees to gain access codes, passwords, and keys to obtain sensitive data, through phishing scams.

Ankit Pahuja

B2B cybersecurity marketing lead with years of experience in SEO, performance marketing, email marketing, lead generation, web analytics & marketing automation. Ankit is an avid speaker and has delivered various talks in top companies, early-age startups, and online events.
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