Imagine you’re the owner of a small business that’s been rapidly growing. You’re proud of your accomplishments but constantly worried about your business’s sensitive data security. You’ve heard about all cyber-attacks and are unsure if your current security measures are enough to protect your business.

With purple teaming, a cooperative approach to cybersecurity, the red and blue teams can work together to find gaps in the organization’s defenses. Purple teaming can offer valuable insights into the organization’s security posture and assist in identifying areas for improvement by simulating attacks and testing responses.

But what exactly is purple teaming, and how can it help your small business? This read will explore the ins and outs of purple teaming and how it can strengthen your business’s security.

What Are Red and Blue Teams?

Before we explain purple teaming, we should understand the red and blue teams and what they mean in security operations. You can divide cybersecurity teams in different ways, but one common way is into red and blue teams.

The terms “red team” and “blue team” originated from the military jargon, where they have divided into two teams; the red team on the offense and the blue team on the defense. Although they work together for the organization’s security, the red and blue teams are essentially different.

Red Team

The red team are security professionals that use cyber threat actors’ tactics to test the effectiveness of the defensive capabilities of organizations. Although red teamers and penetration testers use similar methods, they shouldn’t be confused with each other.

Red team operations play a more significant part in their organizations than just penetration testing and go beyond that.

Blue Team

A blue team is a group of security professionals that focuses on managing and improving the defensive capabilities of their organization. They often work as members of the Security Operations Center (SOC).

The role of the red teams is to identify gaps in an organization in an authorized way and perform regular penetration testing to determine how secure the systems are and the potential vulnerabilities and misconfiguration in the system.

What is Purple Teaming?

Purple teaming is a combined approach to cybersecurity testing which involves the offensive and defensive teams working together. It is an activity that imitates real-world threats across multiple levels of an organization to determine a network’s strength.

The purple teaming process involves sharing data between red and blue teams to give organizations a better understanding of how threat actors might interact with their information. The red team works by explaining what attacks are getting executed in real time with the primary goal of determining whether the blue team can prevent or detect the specific attack in question.

Notably, unlike the traditional red teaming, all the methods of attack and defense in the purple teaming are predetermined. The goal of a purple team exercise is to identify a control, test attack tactics and techniques of the control, and collaborate with the blue team on the best ways to improve and remediate the defenses on that control.

The purple team framework is a reminder that whether you are on the red or blue team, you are on the same team in the fight against external threats.

What are the Benefits of Purple Teaming?

Generally, purple teaming improves an organization’s security posture by identifying weaknesses and vulnerabilities and developing and implementing plans to mitigate risks.

1. Enhance Security Knowledge

Observing and participating in attacks gives blue team members a better understanding of actual attackers’ operations. This enables them to effectively employ the right technologies to deceive actual attackers while also studying their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).

2. Boost Performance

Since the purple team combines red and blue security teams, an organization can improve its security infrastructure and threat monitoring speed at a lower cost.

3. Streamline Security Improvements

Purple teaming can be viewed as an organizational conceptual framework, an alternative strategy within the security sector. This can foster a collaborative culture that encourages ongoing improvements in cyber security. 

4. Gain Critical Insight

Using purple teams helps your internal security team identify where your security posture has weaknesses and helps identify areas where your skills should be improved. 

5. Improves the Ability to Detect Vulnerabilities

Time is a vital resource in cybersecurity, and by working together as a purple team, defensive and offensive security professionals can uncover and repair vulnerabilities more quickly. The purple team is not only faster and more effective, but it is also safer.

How Does Purple Teaming Work?

There are three main components of purple teaming, and they include:

a). Simulation

This is the initial phase where the red teams attack the network from several angles but with one goal: to avoid getting caught. The objective of this phase is set before an attack, whether it’s stealing sensitive customer data or PII. The red team will have a predetermined goal in mind throughout the engagement, and it will be to meet your business’s goals and needs.

Preliminary gaps can be identified by trying to get surveillance through physical and virtual access to confidential data within your organization.

b). Secrecy

Unlike other offensive security engagements, which can be operated on your network, this phase of the purple team assessments is designed to be kept under wraps by most employees.

To accomplish the overall goal, the red team will try to remain undetected while thoroughly assessing your security measures and the blue team. Only a few blue teams and executives will know the assessment’s progress.

c). Detection Testing

If the blue team identifies an attack activity, they will contact the red team to confirm it’s not an actual attack. Once they verify, the red team will continue the attack while the blue teams note how they became detected and monitor to determine what other activities they caught.

In addition, since attackers won’t stop performing cyber attacks on companies, even when they are detected, neither do the red teams. This will allow the team to monitor and observe attack behaviors while developing new strategies to detect and block these activities, knowing it’s a simulation.

How Often Should Purple Teaming be Conducted?

How frequently purple teaming should be done depends on factors, including the cybersecurity maturity level, the organization’s risk profile, and the industry it operates in. Generally, purple team assessments are recommended at least once a year. However, frequent testing may be necessary for organizations with a high risk of cyber threats or those handling sensitive data.

Regular testing is essential because it ensures an organization’s security posture is updated and can withstand the current threats. This creates an opportunity to identify areas that need improvement and make all adjustments before a real cyber attack occurs.

How Does Purple Teaming Strengthen Security?

The findings from purple teaming can be used to improve an organization’s security posture in a few ways, including:

1. Identifying Gaps

Purple teaming can strengthen security by helping to identify the gaps in an organization’s security posture, which traditional security controls could overlook. These gaps can be used to determine which areas need improvement most urgently and how to deploy resources best.

2. Enhancing Communication

Purple team assessments promote collaboration and communication between the blue and red teams, which enhances the understanding of the responsibilities of the red and blue teams. By strengthening this communication, the purple team activities help improve the effectiveness of the organization’s defenses and measures.

3. Optimizing Security Investments

The purple team can help optimize an organization’s security investments by identifying areas where additional investment could be needed and where the assets could be reduced.

4. Improving Response

The findings from the purple team exercise can be used to develop more effective incident response plans. The company can improve its ability to recognize and respond to security incidents by identifying gaps in its detection and response capabilities.

Conclusion on Purple Teaming

Protecting your data, financial information, and critical infrastructure is essential whether you’re a small business owner or a large corporation. By bringing together the red and blue teams to simulate attacks and test defenses, purple teaming can provide valuable insights into your organization’s security posture and identify areas for improvement.

However, purple teaming isn’t a one-time fix. It requires ongoing effort and commitment from everyone involved. Continually testing, learning, and improving can help your organization stay one step ahead of potential cyber threats. Its collaborative approach and continuous improvement process can help strengthen your security and protect you against the ever-evolving threat landscape.

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