A red team assessment is a way to test your organisation’s ability to detect and respond to cyber-attacks, using the same methods as real-world threat actors. A red team assessment launches a benign, but realistic, attack simulation to evaluate the resilience of your organisation at every stage of the attack lifecycle.
An in-depth, intelligence-driven red team service puts multiple aspects of your security stance to the test - including policies, processes and personnel. This provides a holistic view of your current state, with detailed intelligence identifying both strengths and weaknesses.
What’s the difference between a penetration test and a red team assessment?
Both penetration tests and red team assessments aim to improve an organisation’s security defences by simulating real-world threats. However, the format and methods of the assessments differ, so here’s a summary of the differences.
A penetration test:
• Is a short-term or one-off project
• Aims to identify and exploit infrastructure vulnerabilities.
• Typically utilises a singular attack method
A red team service:
• Is a long-term, continuous process
• Aims to test how well an organisation would detect and respond to user-based attacks
• Utilises a broad range of attack methods.
What are the benefits of a red team approach?
The key benefit of the red team approach is the depth of information it provides. Actionable intelligence enables you to better understand how to prepare for, deter, detect, and recover from cyber-attacks.
The breadth of the evaluation encompasses all aspects of your security strategy, allowing for the identification and mitigation of risk across all areas of the business. Because it’s a multi-faceted approach it’s more reflective of a real-world scenario – combining brute force attacks with intelligence-led reconnaissance and social engineering.
As an ongoing process, rather than an infrequent project, it supports a strategy of continuous improvement. With less time elapsed between simulated attacks it also reduces the risk of exposing the business to undisclosed risks.
How are red team assessments carried out?
Assessments begin with establishing objectives. As an assessment is designed to simulate a real-world threat, the intent needs to be known. This could be anything from account access or privilege escalation to data theft or obtaining the credentials of senior executives. Once the objectives have been established, a typical assessment comprises four phases.
Phase 1 – Reconnaissance
Employing a range of cyber threat intelligence (CTI) techniques to gather as much information on your organisation as possible. This could include open-source intelligence (OSINT), financial intelligence (FININT), technical intelligence (TECHINT) and human intelligence (HUMINT). This information is then used to identify the targets and methods of the attacks.
Phase 2 – Weaponization
In this phase, the intelligence gathered in phase 1 is used to launch the attack on your organisation. Depending on the scope and objectives of your red team assessment, this uses methods such as email phishing, SMiShing (SMS phishing), physical ingress, or Command and Control activities to exploit vulnerabilities and gain access to your network.
Phase 3 – Exploitation
Once a foothold has been established, the aim is to see if the ultimate objective can be attained. During this phase it is possible to simulate attacks from a variety of potential threat sources – disgruntled employees, outside hackers or someone who has gained physical access to your systems.
Phase 4 – Analysis
Step-by-step reporting and analysis provides visibility of the attack scenario, including points of strength and weakness within your security strategy – people, process and technology.
Want to know more?
Datrix works with private and public sector organisations across the UK to help improve the performance, availability and security of their systems. Our detailed understanding of the threat landscape enables us to simulate a broad range of real-world attacks, including those that specifically target remote workers in the emerging, hybrid workforce.
If you’d like to find out more about red team assessments and how they could help improve your security stance, contact one of our consultants on firstname.lastname@example.org