On average, companies take about 197 days to identify a breach and 69 days to contain one.

This lengthy timeline can be detrimental to an organization’s assets, data, and reputation. A robust cybersecurity strategy includes several methods, tools and exercises that are essential.

Our earlier blog detailed red team assessment and operations and explained how the red team works on the offence while the blue teams operate on the defence. When the teams work collaboratively on a penetration testing project, this is known as purple teaming.

Purple Teaming: Teams Working together

Purple Teaming can help companies better understand their cybersecurity by attacking their live defences. The concept of red teams and blue teams are based on military exercises. In the cybersecurity industry, red teams are known as ethical hackers. They methodically study an organization’s system structure and lines of defence to launch attacks meant to exploit any weaknesses that present themselves.

Red teams are, however, only a part of the equation. They work alongside blue teams; in-house security professionals tasked with defending an organization’s systems and assets against cyberattacks. Once a red team attacks, a blue team finds a way to defend, change, and group defence mechanisms to strengthen the incident response.

A blue team needs to be aware of the same malicious tactics, techniques, and procedures as a red team to build effective response strategies around them.

What does the Blue Team set out to achieve?

During cybersecurity testing engagements, the blue teams evaluate organizational security environments and defend these environments from the red teams. The red teams play the role of the attacker by identifying security vulnerabilities and launching an attack within a controlled environment.

The Blue Team comprises a group of individuals who analyze the organization’s information systems, identify security flaws, verify the efficiency of each security measure, and make certain all security measures will continue to be effective after implementation. Both teams work together to help determine the actual state of an organization’s security.

Blue Team activity isn’t exclusive to attacks. They are continuously involved in strengthening the entire digital security infrastructure, using software like an Intrusion detection system (IDS) that provides them with an ongoing analysis of unusual and suspicious activity.

The Blue Team also conducts operational network security evaluations and provides mitigation tools and techniques to help the organization build their defences or prepare for red team attacks.

Who are Blue Team members?

  • Blue teams are often the cybersecurity experts or IT security staff of the organization. At times, some employees are selected to be part of a blue team within the department.
  • Blue teams may also be independent contractors hired for specific activities to leverage their knowledge to help review the state of an organization’s defences. However, this is more common with red teams.

Blue Team approaches 

We detailed the methodologies of a red team in the earlier blog titled ‘What is a red team.’ The Blue Team also follows an approach to prepare against the red team attacks.

The Blue Team methods include:

  • Reviewing and analyzing log data
  • Utilizing a security information and event management (SIEM) platform for visibility and detection of live intrusions
  • Triage alarms in real-time
  • Gathering new threat intelligence information and prioritizing appropriate actions in context with the risks
  • Performing traffic and data flow analysis

Some specific blue team exercises include:

  • Performing DNS research
  • Reviewing, configuring and monitoring security software throughout the environment
  • Ensuring perimeter security methods, such as firewalls, antivirus and anti-malware software, are properly configured and up-to-date.
  • Employing least-privilege access, which means that the organization grants the lowest level of access possible to each user or device to help limit lateral movement across the network in the event of a breach
  • Leveraging micro-segmentation, a security technique that involves dividing perimeters into small zones to maintain separate access to every part of the network

Conclusion

The key is that red and blue teams need to work together. This collaborative exercise, also known as purple teaming, is more of a drill than a game, as the simulated attack is in a low-risk environment but approached as if it is an actual attack. This kind of exercise should become part of the overall security strategy, as the cost of any breach or attack is usually high.

Companies that contain a breach in less than 30 days save more than $1 million compared to those who take longer. Companies also face major fines if they take too long to disclose the breach and put themselves at risk of lawsuits from consumers and independent agencies.

An experienced cybersecurity services provider such as Packletlabs has the required skills and knowledge to support a purple teaming exercise.  Packetlabs’ red team works with your internal security operations team (or blue team) to bridge the gap between offensive techniques. Contact us today to learn more.