Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Threat Intelligence

6/13/2019
10:30 AM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

The Rise of 'Purple Teaming'

The next generation of penetration testing represents a more collaborative approach to old fashioned Red Team vs. Blue Team.

In 1992, the film Sneakers introduced the term "Red Team" into popular culture as actors Robert Redford, Sydney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, David Strathairn, and River Phoenix portrayed a team of security experts who hire themselves out to organizations to test their security systems by attempting to hack them.

This was a revolutionary concept at the time — the term "penetration test" didn't even exist yet, and the idea of a friendly security team trying to break through a company's defenses wasn't exactly commonplace. Today, penetration testing is an important part of any cybersecurity system, and both internal and external Red Teams play a critical role in that process.

But they don't do it alone. Organizations often employ "Blue Teams," referring to the internal security team tasked with defending against both real and simulated attacks. If this raises your curiosity about whether and how closely Red Teams and Blue Teams collaborate in security testing, then you've pinpointed the fast-rising cybersecurity trend of "Purple Teaming."

What Makes Purple Teaming Different?
For years, organizations have run penetration tests similarly: The Red Team launches an attack in isolation to exploit the network and provide feedback. The Blue Team typically knows only that an evaluation is in progress and is tasked to defend the network as if an actual attack were underway. 

The most important distinction between Purple Teaming and standard Red Teaming is that the methods of attack and defense are all predetermined. Instead of attacking the network and delivering a post-evaluation summary of finding, the Red Team identifies a control, tests ways to attack or bypass it, and coordinates with the Blue Team in ways that either serve to improve the control or defeat the bypass. Often the teams will sit side by side to collaborate and truly understand outcomes.

The result is that teams are no longer limited to identifying vulnerabilities and working based on their initial assumptions. Instead, they are testing controls in real time and simulating the type of approach that intruders are likely to utilize in an actual attack. This shifts the testing from passive to active. Instead of working to outwit each other the teams can apply the most aggressive attack environments and conduct more complex "what-if" scenarios through which security controls and processes can be understood more comprehensively and fixed before a compromise.

How Deception Technology Adds Value to Penetration Testing
Part of what makes Red Teaming and Purple Teaming so valuable is they provide insight into the specific tactics and approaches that attackers might use. Organizations can enhance this visibility by incorporating deception technology into the testing program. The first benefit comes from detecting attackers early by enticing them to engage with decoys or deception lures. The second comes from gathering full indicators of compromise (IOCs) and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) into lateral movement activity. This significantly enhances visibility into how and when attackers circumvent security controls, enriching the information that typically results from these exercises.

Cyber deceptions deploy traps and lures on the network without interfering with daily operations. A basic deployment can easily be completed in under a day, providing the Blue Team an additional detection mechanism that blends in with the operational environment. This creates more opportunities to detect when the Red Team bypasses a defensive control, forcing team members to be more deliberate with their actions and making simulated attack scenarios more realistic. It also offers a truer test of the resiliency of the organization's security stack and the processes it has in place to respond to an incident.

The rise of Purple Teaming has changed the way many organizations conduct their penetration tests by providing a more collaborative approach to old-fashioned Red Team vs. Blue Team methodology. The increased deployment of deception technology in cybersecurity stacks has further augmented the capabilities of both the Red and Blue teams by allowing them to adopt a more authentic approach to the exercises.

Related Content:

Joseph Salazar is a veteran information security professional, with both military and civilian experience.  He began his career in information technology in 1995 and transitioned into information security in 1997.  He is a retired Major from the US Army ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
tdsan
50%
50%
tdsan,
User Rank: Ninja
5/11/2020 | 1:53:07 PM
Interesting article
I had a question for Salazar, is this person more of a researcher; someone who provides insight into the steps the Red-team (White Hat hackers) and Blue-Team (Defense group) taken ensuring they use are in line with what a potential attacker might pursue or execute?

Please advise and thank you.

Todd
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/3/2020
Pen Testers Who Got Arrested Doing Their Jobs Tell All
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/5/2020
Browsers to Enforce Shorter Certificate Life Spans: What Businesses Should Know
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-17366
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
An issue was discovered in NLnet Labs Routinator 0.1.0 through 0.7.1. It allows remote attackers to bypass intended access restrictions or to cause a denial of service on dependent routing systems by strategically withholding RPKI Route Origin Authorisation ".roa" files or X509 Certificate...
CVE-2020-9036
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
Jeedom through 4.0.38 allows XSS.
CVE-2020-15127
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
In Contour ( Ingress controller for Kubernetes) before version 1.7.0, a bad actor can shut down all instances of Envoy, essentially killing the entire ingress data plane. GET requests to /shutdown on port 8090 of the Envoy pod initiate Envoy's shutdown procedure. The shutdown procedure includes flip...
CVE-2020-15132
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
In Sulu before versions 1.6.35, 2.0.10, and 2.1.1, when the "Forget password" feature on the login screen is used, Sulu asks the user for a username or email address. If the given string is not found, a response with a `400` error code is returned, along with a error message saying that th...
CVE-2020-7298
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
Unexpected behavior violation in McAfee Total Protection (MTP) prior to 16.0.R26 allows local users to turn off real time scanning via a specially crafted object making a specific function call.