With a new cyberattack occurring every 39 seconds, having increased over 300% in the last year alone, there has never been a better time to focus on your company’s cybersecurity. Building a strong defense system requires testing, allowing your team to find and fix vulnerabilities before they’re exploited.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the central concept of Purple Teaming, demonstrating how this practice can further streamline your digital security’s penetration testing exercises.
Penetration testing, most commonly known as a pen test, is where you simulate a cyberattack on your own business. This is either done by hiring an external team to find vulnerabilities in your system or by tasking your own security team to attack the system.
Through pen testing, a security team is able to find vulnerabilities that they were previously unaware of. These breaches are ethical, with every step of the hack being documented so that the security team can then go into the system and place barricades to block or change vulnerabilities.
Typically, a penetration attempt is split into two teams: the red and the blue teams. These teams are both staffed by security professionals but with different objectives.
The Red team simulates the attackers, the group of individuals who work to hack into your security system. Typically, the red team will select several attack methodologies from the MITRE ATT&CK Framework in order to better simulate the types of attack a modern hacker is launching.
The main objective of the red team is to find any weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the overall security infrastructure, systems, or individual applications connected to the business.
On the other side of the equation, the Blue team simulates the defenders. This team is mainly composed of security engineers that will attempt to respond to the Red team’s security threat as quickly as possible. They will actively defend the system, preventing further hacks, detecting what the Red team is attempting to do, and trying to stop them.
After the exercise has concluded, the red and blue team will compare their findings, piecing together vulnerabilities that can then be fixed.
Instead of separating your digital security team into two, red and blue, one possible way to run penetration testing is to have them work together. This form of penetration testing is called Purple Teaming, with Red and Blue coming together to make a singular Purple team.
By working together, the blue team will get an insight into how the red team is working, meaning they can move to block them more easily. This process allows your blue team to learn typical movements and procedures used by hackers and then prevent them.
Similarly, as the red team learns what the blue team is doing to prevent them, they’ll have to think about how hackers would then change their tactics. This purple team allows both teams to get even more from the exercise, further developing the extent to which the simulation helps your digital security team.
The Main Benefits of Purple Teaming
Purple teaming allows your security force to further develop their security innovations, pushing your digital defenses further than ever before.
By purple teaming, you’ll be able to access the following benefits for your digital security system:
- Enhanced Security Knowledge
- Boosted Performance
- Critical Insight
Let’s break these down further.
Purple teaming is all about collaboration. Instead of two separate teams working on one goal, you’ll benefit from the brainpower of both teams coming together. The expertise of both the red and blue teams can inform the other, helping and guiding them through problems and solutions.
This is especially the case when you hire an external red team to hack into the program. Due to their limited knowledge of your internal structures, they may spend a lot of time finding an initial way in. If you give the red team the enhanced security knowledge of the internal blue team, they’ll be able to break in more effectively.
From there, the red team can try out a range of different hacking procedures, quickly and efficiently building up a report of potential vulnerabilities in the system. Considering this is a simulation, the goal should be to find as many vulnerabilities as possible, ensuring that your teams can then boost your company’s cybersecurity.
Most likely, the red and blue teams are divided up into those that are more naturally talented at defending systems and those that are familiar with attacking vectors and hacking. While this means that everyone will be efficient at their role, it leads to a lack of professional development.
When you actively use the purple communication channel, you’ll be ensuring that both teams then learn more from the exercise. While a defender might be unfamiliar with attacking systems, by working alongside the red team, they’ll see what typical pathways are. With this knowledge, by putting themselves inside the mind of an attacker, they’ll then be more ready to defend if an incident ever did arise.
The MITRE ATT&CK framework is an ever-growing center for information when it comes to hacking and typical pathways attackers will use when penetrating into a system. This database is massive, with 14 different columns, all containing between 7-40 techniques. Considering the sheer quantity of different attacks that could be launched, your team needs to regularly run testing to get ready for any of them.
By purple teaming, your red team will communicate which attack technique they’re currently working on deploying. From this, your blue team can then develop a launch protocol as well as develop key warning signs for this particular attack.
Instead of just knowing that an attack is happening, the blue team will be able to more accurately document the steps needed to stop the attack, as well as the typical pathway and signals that this particular form of attack is occurring.
This critical level of insight is essential to a strong, rapid, and effective security response.
Purple teaming lets you get the very best out of your security penetration testing. Not only does everyone involved learn more about the various processes of attacking and defending, but you’ll also reveal vulnerabilities in your system.
From there, you’ll be able to fix them to make your company’s digital security as strong as possible. With the number of cyberattacks increasing every single day, it’s time to take action.
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