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One thing is for certain when it comes to cyber security – there is no silver bullet. Regardless of the technology, people and processes in place, no organisation is immune from being compromised.


To mitigate the risk of breaches, security assessments such as penetration testing should be a core part of your businesses’ information security strategy. To truly understand preparedness to withstand a full-scale cyber-incident however, nothing comes close to a red team operation – a full-scale cyber-attack simulation designed to rigorously test your organisation’s ability to detect and respond to an organised hacking attempt.

Here are five key reasons to consider commissioning a red team engagement for your business:


1. Identify the core security risks


By simulating a full-scale cyber-attack, a red team operation rigorously tests the ability of your people, technology and processes to identify and mitigate cyber threats. In doing so, it is capable of assessing your entire attack surface, identifying areas where critical assets and confidential information are at risk of being compromised An engagement is often conducted without the knowledge of key personnel.

The comprehensive nature of red teaming means it is capable of detecting little-known vulnerabilities that could be overlooked by traditional automated assessments, which are inherently more restricted in scope. Red teaming, conducted by a team of ethical hackers, is therefore a hugely powerful tool in improving visibility and quantifying cyber security risks.


2. Test resilience against the latest attack methods


Modern cybercriminals will exploit any and all vulnerabilities they can to compromise your organisation. A red team operation will deploy the same tools, techniques and procedures (TTPs) used by blackhats and other malicious adversaries to ensure your organisation is prepared to stand up to the latest advanced threats.

Red teaming far exceeds the remit of a vulnerability assessment or pen test, using a blend of attack methods and challenging both virtual and physical defences. Attack techniques utilised typically include reverse engineering and deployment of custom malware, social engineering methods such as phishing, vishing and pretexting and even physical intrusion of target premises.


3. Understand the approaches used by genuine attackers


Whereas many traditional security assessments are limited in scope and duration, red teaming is designed to more accurately replicate the approach of an attacker by covertly testing your defences over a period of several weeks or months and without prior knowledge of the target environment.

A red team operation begins with an extensive reconnaissance phase to gather information about the target network and the security systems and technology in place. Once mapping has taken place, the hacker will identify weaknesses and, where necessary, develop custom tools to exploit them.

Having successfully gained access to a network, an ethical hacker will then attempt to establish multiple command and control channels to escalate privileges and aid lateral movement through the target network.

By striving to achieve its end goal without detection, a red team engagement ensures that defensive capabilities are pushed to the limit.


4. Receive help addressing key exposures


By working to a set of pre-defined rules of engagement, red teaming is designed to cause no or minimal disruption to business operations. Each engagement highlights key security issues and quantifies potential risks so that they can be fixed before they result in a damaging cyber breach.

Every red team operation includes regular, hand-written reporting, informing key stakeholders of the vulnerabilities identified, the techniques used and the information compromised. Engagements include a debrief that provides actionable intelligence and detailed remediation guidance, as well as suggestions to improve employee cyber awareness.


5. Channel and prioritise future security investments


As well as evaluating the performance of your in-place security controls, red teaming can also help to develop your security strategy and ensure that you get the most from future investments.

Tactical and strategic recommendations could include upgrades to perimeter defences, improvements to data storage and encryption policies, enhancements to network monitoring and threat detection capabilities or expansions to internal education and training programmes.


Choosing a red team provider


When selecting an organisation to perform your red team engagement, it’s essential to look for a provider that has the necessary skills and experience to accurately simulate an attack, but can also conduct a safe and controlled assessment.

Redscan’s expert team of ethical hackers are certified to CREST, CEH, OSCE, OSCP and OSWP standards and can point to a 100% success rate in past engagements, demonstrating their skills and experience in applying the latest ethical hacking techniques.

By adopting the mindset of the adversary, utilising the latest blackhat tools and offering clear advice, Redscan’s dedicated professionals can help organisations of all sizes make significant improvements to their cyber security.

Learn more about our red team operations
Discover our full range of security assessments

Read more:
Why a simulated cyber-attack can help to test the effectiveness of your security investments
What is a penetration test?