Red team vs Blue team: Which side are you on?


Has the way cyber security protects the infrastructure of businesses and organizations ever interested you? Perhaps you’ve been intrigued by how red hat hackers locate and exploit vulnerabilities. If so, you might have a long and illustrious career in cyber security and ethical hacking ahead of you. Throughout this article, we at Cybernews Academy will discuss the relationship between red and blue teamers, how they work, and how they contribute to improving an organization's security posture. We will also explore what degrees are needed to enter this industry and what career paths may lie in wait.

The Red Team

The National Institute of Standards and Technology defines ‘Red Team’ as “A group of people authorized and organized to emulate a potential adversary’s attack or exploitation capabilities against an enterprise’s security posture.” Red teamers act as malicious agents or red hat hackers to simulate a real-life attack on an organization's system. The red team aims to improve company security by highlighting cyber insecurities that malicious hackers could exploit.

Red team roles

The diversity of the red team can’t go unrecognized, as many different roles are needed to orchestrate an attack. Red teams are comprised of multiple participants with various roles that keep the delicate balance of the team intact. You may have a red team leader who coordinates the activities of the red team, defines objectives, and ensures that the team remains ethical and legal. Then, you have your ethical hacker or penetration tester who manages the technical assessments and identifies vulnerabilities in the system. These experts use tools and techniques that tap into system or network weaknesses. Ethical hackers also collaborate with other team members to simulate real-world cyber attacks in a controlled and safe environment. You may also have a social engineer who focuses on exploiting vulnerabilities through phishing attacks, impersonations, and other tactics to heighten employee awareness. Various security experts and security specialists are required within the red team to determine security measures in different facets of the system. These positions may fall under application security, wireless security, or network security specialists.

Red team traits

The skills needed to execute an attack successfully are vast and intricate. Red teams need technical and creative skills while also being capable of exploiting and locating a system's weak points. Various tactics and tools must be administered to hack into the company’s system successfully. Each group member will have different strengths, but those in the group will likely have a good understanding of computer systems, software development, penetration testing, and social engineering skills like phishing and other exploitation tactics. Those on the team will also participate in red team exercises, physical security testing, and threat intelligence.

The Blue Team

The National Institute of Standards and Technology defines ‘Blue Team’ as “The group responsible for defending an enterprise's use of information systems by maintaining its security posture against a group of mock attackers. Typically, the Blue Team and its supporters must defend against real or simulated attacks over a significant period, in a representative operational context, and according to rules established and monitored with the help of a neutral group refereeing the simulation or exercise.” Using different procedures, tools, and techniques, the blue team defends networks by protecting systems against real and simulated threats.

Blue team roles

Much like the red team, the roles played in the blue team are extremely diverse as they encompass all the necessary skills needed to secure potential cyber threats successfully. In the blue team, you will find security operations center analysts who lead a team of security analysts and oversee the operations at hand. Another main player is the incident responder, whose goal is to lead and respond to security incidents while collaborating with various teams and departments during the mitigation process. This individual will help the organization contain, eliminate, and recover from the security breach. Like the red team, the blue team has its string of security experts and security architects who work to train employees about security awareness. These individuals also develop and implement security strategies while monitoring incidents and alerts. They may also analyze security logs and data, which helps to pinpoint potential threats.

Blue team traits

The blue team is focused on mitigating the attacks that the red team orchestrates. The players within the Blue Team are diverse and collaborative, with a core focus on defense, detection, and reaction. Those within the blue team must have comprehensive knowledge of the organization's security measures and infrastructure. Blue team members should be able to use tools and technologies that help defend against cyber attacks. A knowledge of digital forensics would also be helpful when investigating security incidents.

Red vs Blue

There are many positive benefits to this synergy between the red and blue teams. This process can help a company identify potential vulnerabilities that malicious agents could later exploit. This cat-and-mouse chase can strengthen network security by reinforcing the security structure and patching vulnerabilities. Those who work with cyber security will bring awareness of potential cyber threats and build experience in detecting and dealing with these issues as they arise. By identifying these security threats, cyber security experts can structure and create procedures that can react to these circumstances.

How to become a team member

You can take various paths when joining this exclusive team. There are educational factors that you may want to consider alongside qualifications that could hold you at a competitive advantage.

Red and Blue degrees

Many, if not all, Computer Science and Information Technology degrees will get you on the career ladder. If you want to be a part of a red or blue team and are looking for a job in the industry, you may want to consider embarking on one of the following bachelor's degrees.

  • Computer science
  • Information technology
  • Cyber security and ethical hacking
  • Threat intelligence and forensics
  • Digital forensics

Upon graduating, you might be surprised that the events between the red team and blue team only occur a few times a year. Companies and businesses may not have exclusive red or blue team job roles as these events are not an everyday occurrence. However, many job opportunities in the cyber security field emulate the activities and requirements of the red and blue team members.

Red team careers

Different job titles will simulate the tasks and responsibilities of red teamers.

  • Ethical hackers - these individuals will conduct simulated attacks on systems to identify any vulnerabilities. Ethical hackers utilize penetration testing tools and techniques to assess and strengthen an organization's security posture. The average salary is $124,000 per year.
  • Penetration tester - this individual will assess the system's security and help organizations identify and resolve vulnerabilities. This individual must have excellent technical skills and an understanding of cloud architecture and other technologies. The average salary is $130,000 per year.
  • Security consultant - this individual will assess vulnerabilities in computer systems, networks, and programs while developing a strategy to target these potential issues. The average salary is $122,000 per year.
  • Red team leader - this individual is responsible for the actions of the red team. This person will coordinate the group and define the team's objectives, scope, and rules during the event. The average salary is $132,000 per year.

Blue team careers

Like their counterparts, various jobs emulate that of a blue team participant. If you are a keen defender of cyberspace, look into these career paths.

  • SOC analyst - this individual is responsible for monitoring and responding to security incidents and identifying any potential threats in the network. The average salary is $91,000 per year.
  • Cybersecurity analyst - this individual is in charge of protecting and defending a computer network and system. This person may also design and implement security features to protect the system and its contents. The average salary is $110,000 per year.
  • Incident responder - this individual will implement security plans and policies and train other staff members to prepare the organization for potential cyber threats. This person will defend the organization against cyber threats using different tools and techniques to identify and eliminate the issue. The average salary is $125,000 per year.
  • Cyber security architect - this individual will assess an organization's system for weakness. They may conduct different tests and use tools and equipment to identify the issues. The average salary is $155,000 per year.

All facets of the work that cyber security professionals perform contribute to the safety of our online environment. An exciting and unknown aspect of cyber security is the synergy between red and blue teamers. The relationship between the red and blue teamers is competitive and collaborative, with both teams working towards the same goal, improving an organization's security posture. There are many ways you can break into this industry. We suggest that you undertake a degree in a computer science field and slowly work your way up the ladder until you ascend to your desired position. However, this ascension is dependent on the organization you are working for. The relationship between the red and blue teams is captivating to behold. You just have one decision to make: which side are you on?