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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
Red Team
3.
Blue Team 
4.
Purple Team
5.
Yellow, Orange and Green Teams
5.1.
A Summary of Security Function Colors
6.
Problems between Red and Blue Teams
7.
FAQs
8.
Key Takeaways
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

The Difference Between Red, Blue and Purple Teams

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Ashwin Goyal
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Introduction

The internet is rife with dangers! There is a chance that you will be exposed to risk whenever you go online. There are other types of computer dangers within that risk range, each with its own set of detrimental effects. Some attacks, for example, can harm or corrupt your installed operating system, forcing you to reinstall it. Another type may attempt to steal your login credentials and passwords. On the other hand, other attacks may not destroy your computer but will track your online habits and invade your privacy.

Criminals are more intelligent than they've ever been, and malicious software is more complex than before. Modern malware can infect a target PC and go unnoticed for an extended period. At the same time, advances in processing power allow for the cracking of complex passwords in a matter of seconds. The majority of cyberattacks nowadays are carried out with the intent of stealing your money, gaining access to your personal information, or obtaining your login credentials rather than causing damage to your computer. In terms of concept, cybersecurity hazards may be classified into two categories: passive and active attacks. In this post, we'll go over the differences between the two and provide some examples of each.

Hackers monitor and scan systems for weaknesses or access points that allow them to intercept data without altering it in passive assaults. Hackers attempt to change the integrity and availability of the information they have intercepted in an active attack to acquire access or greater privileges. To put it another way, hackers may exploit data obtained during passive assaults to compromise a victim in an active attack.

Let us go through the red, blue and purple teams in detail. It is very important to learn the concept of red, blue and purple teams in information security. Also, there is some confusion about the definitions of Red, Blue and Purple teams within Information Security. Let us clear these confusions in this article.

You can read about the difference between Active Attack and Passive Attack here.

Red Team

Internal or external Red Teams are tasked with evaluating the success of a security programme by simulating the tools and techniques of potential attackers as closely as feasible. It involves the pursuit of one or more objectives - usually carried out as a campaign - and is related to, but not identical to, Penetration Testing. Penetration testing is also known as pen testing or ethical hacking. It describes the intentional launching of simulated cyberattacks that seek out exploitable vulnerabilities in computer systems, networks, websites, and applications.

While there is a lot of common elements in abilities and functions between Red Teams and Penetration Testers, they are not the same thing.

Red Teams are distinguished from other offensive security teams by a number of characteristics. Among the most important are:

  • Emulation of the TTP(tactics, techniques, and procedures) employed by adversaries the target is likely to encounter, such as the employment of identical tools, exploits, pivoting tactics, and aims as a specific threat actor.
  • Campaign-based testing lasts for a long duration, such as several weeks or months of simulating the same attacker.

It's a Penetration Test, not a Red Team engagement, if a security team employs typical pen-testing tools, runs their testing for only a few weeks, and tries to accomplish a standard set of goals - such as pivoting to the internal network, stealing data, or gaining domain admin. Over the duration of a long period of time, Red Team engagements use a customised set of TTP and goals.

Red Teams don't only test for vulnerabilities; they do it in campaigns that constantly run for an extended period of time, employing the TTP of their likely threat actors.

Of course, it is possible to create a Red Team campaign that uses the best-of-the-best TTPs known to the Red Team, as well as a combination of common pen-testing tools, techniques, and goals, and run it as a campaign (modelling a Pentester adversary), but I believe the purest form of a Red Team campaign reproduces a specific threat actor's TTPs—which will not necessarily be the similar as if the Red Team were attacking itself.

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Blue Team 

Internal security teams known as Blue Teams defend against both real attackers and Red Teams. Most security operations teams do not have the mentality of constant vigilance against attack, which is the mission of a true Blue Team. Hence Blue Teams should be distinguished from regular security teams in most firms.

In terms of cybersecurity, blue teams are a company's proactive defenders.

A tier-1 SOC analyst with no training or interest in offensive techniques, no curiosity about the interface they are looking at, and no creativity in following up on any potential alerts are examples of defence-oriented InfoSec duties that aren't usually thought to be Blue-Team-worthy.

Although all Blue Teams are defenders, not all defenders are Blue Teams.

The ethos of a Blue Team differs from that of a defensive team. Here's how we distinguish between the Blue team and the defensive team. The following are things that Blue Teams / Blue Teamers have and use:

  • The difference between a proactive and a reactive mindset
  • Unquenchable inquisitiveness about things that aren't normal
  • Detection and response times are improving all the time.

Purple Team

Purple Teams exist to ensure and maximise the Red and Blue teams' efficacy. They accomplish this by combining the Blue Team's defensive strategies and controls with the Red Team's threats and weaknesses into a unified narrative that maximises both. Purple, in an ideal world, would not be a team at all, but rather a constant dynamic between Red and Blue.

Purple refers to a philosophy in which attackers and defenders work together on the same team. As a result, rather than a dedicated team, it should be viewed as a function.

Purple Teams should not be needed in organisations where the Red Team / Blue Team interaction is healthy and functioning effectively because the primary objective of a Red Team is to develop ways to improve the Blue Team.

The finest examples I've seen of the term are when a group that is unfamiliar with offensive strategies seeks to learn how attackers think. That might be an incident response team, a detection team, a developer team, or anything else. It may be called a Purple Team activity if the good people are attempting to learn from white hat hackers.

Yellow, Orange and Green Teams

April Wright cleverly introduced a few new team kinds in a Blackhat talk titled; Orange Is the New Purple, in addition to the well-known Red, Blue, and Purple team concepts.

April Wright introduced the Yellow team, which are the builders in her discussion, and then combined them with Blue and Red to create the other colours. We think this is brilliant, although we disagree with some of the ways the combinations are described. In what Daniel refers to as the BAD Pyramid above, we caught our own version of these interactions, which is a wholly derivative form of April's work.

Daniel also objects to the term "team" being applied to any of these colours, believing that they are more often than not mindsets or functions rather than devoted groupings of individuals. Developers, for example, is the word given to the colour yellow. Also, the colours Green, Orange, and Purple should be replaced with Developers or Blue Team behaviours.

A Summary of Security Function Colors

Yellow: Builder

RedAttacker

BlueDefender

GreenBuilder learns from defender

PurpleDefender learns from the attacker

OrangeBuilder learns from the attacker

Problems between Red and Blue Teams

Red and Blue teams are diametrically opposed in their tactics and behaviours, much like Yin and Yang or Attack and Defense, yet these disparities are precisely what makes them part of a healthy and productive whole. Although Red Teams attack and Blue Teams defend, their basic purpose is the same: to strengthen the organisation's security posture.

The following are some of the issues with Red and Blue team cooperation:

  • The Red Team believes that it is too powerful to share knowledge with the Blue Team.
  • The Red Team is dragged inside the organisation, where they are neutered, limited, and demoralised, resulting in a drastic decline in their efficacy.
  • As a matter of course, the Red Team and Blue Team are not designed to engage with one other on a regular basis, so lessons learnt on either side are effectively lost.
  • The Red and Blue teams are not seen as part of the same effort by Information Security management, and there is no shared information, management, or metrics among them.

Organisations that suffer from these issues are more likely to believe that a Purple Team is required to tackle their problems. Purple, on the other hand, should be viewed as a function or a notion rather than a permanent addition to the squad. And that concept is mutual benefit and cooperation toward a common objective.

So a Purple Team engagement is in order, where a third party examines how your Red and Blue teams interact and makes recommendations for improvement. Maybe there's a Purple Team activity where someone keeps track of both teams in real-time to see how they work. Perhaps there will be a Purple Team meeting where the two teams will bond, share tales, and discuss potential attacks and defences.

The overarching goal is to persuade the Red and Blue teams to agree on a common goal of organisational improvement rather than adding another entity to the mix.

The purple team can be compared to a marriage counsellor. It's great to have someone fill that function in order to improve communication, but you should never determine that this is the new, permanent way for the husband and wife to interact.

This way, we have cleared all our confusion regarding the Red, Blue and Purple teams in information security. I hope you learned something new today!

FAQs

  1. What is information security?
    Information security is described as the state of being protected from unauthorized use of data, particularly electronic data, or the means are taken to achieve this.
     
  2. What is a red team?
    Internal or external Red Teams are tasked with evaluating the success of a security programme by simulating the tools and techniques of potential attackers as closely as feasible.
     
  3. What is a blue team
    Internal security teams known as Blue Teams defend against both real attackers and Red Teams. Most security operations teams do not have the mentality of continuous vigilance against attack, which is the mission of a true Blue Team. Hence Blue Teams should be distinguished from regular security teams in most firms.
     
  4. What is a purple team?
    Purple Teams exist to ensure and maximise the Red and Blue teams' efficacy. They accomplish this by combining the Blue Team's defensive strategies and controls with the Red Team's threats and weaknesses into a unified narrative that maximises both. Purple, in an ideal world, would not be a team at all, but rather a constant dynamic between Red and Blue.
     
  5. What are the principles of information security? 
    The CIA(Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability) triad refers to an information security model made up of the three main components: confidentiality, integrity and availability. Each component represents a fundamental objective of information security. To avoid active and passive attacks in a system, we must follow these principles.

Key Takeaways

Today, cybersecurity is an important element of our lives. It is critical to safeguard our gadgets against attackers' nefarious activity. The most difficult challenges in any organization are active and passive attacks.

In this article, we learnt about the red, blue and purple teams in Cyber Security. We learned about the yellow, orange and green teams as well in detail. We also discussed the difference between the red, blue and purple teams in this article.

To learn more about information security, refer to the cyber security archive. You can also refer to the cyber security frameworks.

Happy Learning!

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