Penetration testing and red team assessments are terms sometimes used interchangeably but in reality, they serve different purposes and relate to different testing procedures. In this blog, we break down the differences between them and discuss when to start thinking about red team assessments.
In cyber, we are schooled to think red, blue and in recent years purple. These categories are useful for a broad understanding of different cyber roles but we sometimes forget the variety that exists within each. For example, while penetration testing is part of the ‘red team’, it is not the same as ‘red teaming’:
Penetration testing evaluates and enumerates the overall security of a system.
Red teaming simulates a specific attack scenario against a blue team.
Penetration tests are regularly required for compliance efforts and as a key part of security best practice, are common practice in the IT world. But what about red team assessments? How do you know when you are ready for a red team assessment?
Well, there a few prerequisites for performing red team exercises that ensure it’s going to be a valuable exercise:
- Have you implemented regular penetration testing efforts?
o This assesses the vulnerabilities in your environment and paints a picture of possible attack scenarios that might dictate the direction of a red team exercise
- Do you remediate issues identified in penetration tests and map improvements?
o If you know what your weaknesses are then it’s important you address them with mitigations. By thinking about remediations you may also identify you have some Business Accepted Risks or Inherent Risks that are of interest to the business
- Do you have a blue team?
o Unless you have a blue team looking to detect and respond to malicious threats in real time, there will be no additional information gained from a red team assessment. You would better benefit from a full enumeration of issues in the environment via a penetration test as the red team will never ‘be caught’ during the engagement. They will simply be able to perform a penetration test but on the specific attack scenario under test.
Red team exercises therefore address specific risks a business is concerned about by simulating an attack against them. You need to know the threat you want to test and implement mitigations that you think are sufficient, including deploying your blue team.
What makes our Pen Testers different?
Complete security cannot be achieved through an entirely automated process. It requires a team that has the knowledge of every technical aspect of cyber security and an understanding of how people behave in real life. It is these skills, along with their ingenuity, that sets our Pen Testers apart from our competitors.
Talking to you directly, with no account manager in between, our team can tailor services to your specific needs and work together or individually to help boost your defences. Working as a team, our Pen Testers can prepare for every eventuality, providing a strong and rigorous pen testing service and achieving results quickly and efficiently.
Contact us to find out more about our penetration testing services.