A Red Team is an independent group that challenges an organization to improve its effectiveness by assuming an adversarial role or point of view.
Red teaming is typically employed by organizations with more mature or sophisticated security postures (but that isn’t necessarily always the case). Having already done penetration testing and patched most vulnerabilities, they’re now looking for someone to come in and try again to access sensitive information or breach the defenses — in any way they can, from many different angles.
This opens the door to a team of security experts, focused on a particular target, preying on internal vulnerabilities by using physical and electronic social engineering approaches on the organization’s people, and exploiting physical weaknesses to gain access to the premises.
The similarity between Red Teaming and VAPT
0xa:) They’re both types of security assessments, meaning their goal is to improve the security of an organization.
0xb:) They’re also both based on behaving to some degree like an attacker. It is very important so that they can figure out the real threat.
0xc:) Penetration testing set out to find as many vulnerabilities and configuration issues as it can, exploit them, and determine risk levels.
One entertaining way to look at it is that the pen-testers are pirates — ready to rampage and pillage wherever and whenever they can. In this analogy, red teamers would be more like ninjas, stealthily planning multi-faceted, controlled, focused attacks.
How does it differ from VAPT
0xa:) It differs in many ways, whereby usually the scope is much larger; including physical and social engineering aspects.
0xb:) They also are usually much more covert than VAPT; as an attacker is trying to be stealthy(understanding how operational security works and how to be stealthy is useful and the key to emulating threats) and hide their tracks on the target network, the red team should opt to emulate this.
0xc:) It also follows an attack-defend methodology, whereby the red team is there to outline attack paths and better educate the blue team, should a real attack occur.
0xd:) Red teams test full stacks of processes, people and technology and are much more than just vulnerability assessments/penetration tests.
Red Team is highly dependent upon the security needs of the client. For example, the entire IT and network infrastructure might be evaluated, or just certain parts of them. Once this has been decided upon, then the specific functionalities of what will be tested are then critically examined. Software applications (such as those that are Web-based) could become targets, the physical infrastructure could get hit, or even a combination of both.
0X01: The Scope
This part defines the entire goals and objectives.
- a) Determine any exceptions that will not be targeted on the attack surface. If the client wants this kind of exception fell free to ask.
- b) Important*: Obtain a “Letter of Authorization” from the client, which grants explicit permission to conduct cyberattacks on their lines of defense and the assets that reside within them
0X02: Reconnaissance and Intelligence Gathering
This phase involves collecting information and data about the targets that are going to be hit by the Red Team.
- a) Network IP Range assigned to the business of the corporation.
- b) Gathering information about both the work-related and personal information/data for each employee in the organization. (Like emails)
- c) API endpoints related to any wireless devices or mobile.
- d) Finding any embedded systems that reside in the IT and network infrastructure.
- e) Employee credentials that have been previously targeted by a cyberattack, if any
0X03: Planning and Mapping the Cyber Attacks
At this stage, the types of cyber-attacks that will be launched by the Red Team are mapped out, as well as how they will be executed.
- a) Determining any subdomains that are hidden from public access.
- b) Finding any weak forms of authentication.
- c) Any misconfigurations in the cloud-based infrastructure used by the client.
- d) Making note of any vulnerabilities and weaknesses that are known to exist in any network or Web-based applications.
- e) Determining how to further exploit these known weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
- f) Important Phone call scripts that are to be used in a social engineering attack (assuming that they are telephony-based).
0X04: Launching the Cyberattacks
At this point, the cyberattacks that have been mapped out are now launched towards their intended targets.
- a) Attacking any client-side applications.
- b) Impacting any testing or sandboxing environments that are used for developing software applications.
- c) Accessing any hardware that resides in the IT and network infrastructure. This includes workstations, all forms of wireless devices, mobile, servers, any network security tools. Such as firewalls, routers, network intrusion devices and so on.
- d) Hitting and further exploiting those targets with known weaknesses and vulnerabilities to gain more access to the internal network.
0X05: Documentation and Reporting
This is considered to be the last phase of the methodology cycle, and it primarily consists of creating a final, documented, reported to be given to the client at the end.
- a) Discovery of any unknown security weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
- b) The types and kinds of cyberattacks that were launched, and their impacts.
- c) The degree of exploitation of the above by a real-world cyber attacker.
- d) The corrective actions that are to be taken to remediate all known and unknown security gaps and holes.
- e) Consequences that could occur from not taking action or implementing the recommended solutions.
Benefits Gained by the Client
At the end of any Red teaming exercises, there are several key benefits that the client will gain after making full use of a Red Team.
1. Responses to Cyber Attacks Can Be Validated:
- By being exposed to a series of cyberattacks, an organization will truly know how good their line defenses are and if the mitigation response is enough to prevent off any future threats.
2. Maximize the Return on Investment (ROI) on Security Technologies:
- One of the biggest issues that corporations and businesses face today is discovering if the money that is being spent on security technologies is also being used wisely.
- For example, The biggest misconception is that by simply implementing all of the latest and most sophisticated security technologies, the lines of defenses will be rock-solid (Secure). But that’s wrong. This only increases the attack surface for the cyber attack.
After having the exercises conducted by the Red Team, the IT security staff, as well as the “C-Suite”, will then have a much better idea if they are getting a positive Return on Investment (ROI) on their current security technology investments.
If not, then the appropriate adjustments will have to be made to ensure that critical financial resources are being used wisely.
Who Needs It?
- If you’re a small to midsize businesses, you might think red teaming isn’t for you. “I’m too small to be a target,” you might theorize. But in fact, this is exactly the line of thinking that puts an organization at higher risk.
- If you were a bad actor, wouldn’t you want to go after the guy who’d never expect it?
- Our clients often contact us for remediation guidance well after we hand them their report and present our findings and we encourage this.
- RedTeam provides remediation assistance because the true value of our services has been in helping close your security loop, not just reporting your weaknesses.
To put red teaming in layman’s terms, it’s “ethical hacking”—a way for independent security teams to test how well an organization would fare in the face of a real attack.
We at Khanna Security Solution provides Red Teaming Engagements.
If interested feel free to Contact Us.
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