A blue team is a group that analyzes information systems to identify security flaws, verifies the effectiveness of each security measure, and makes certain all security measures will continue to be effective after implementation.
During cybersecurity testing engagements, blue teams evaluate organizational security environments and defend these environments from red team attacks. The red teams play the role of attackers by identifying security vulnerabilities and launching attacks within a controlled environment. Both teams combine to help illuminate the true state of an organization's security.
The idea that you can better understand your defenses by attacking them in a controlled environment is a long-established military principle. This idea is most commonly expressed in the practice of “red teaming,” where an outside group of independent actors tests the systems or defenses of a target organization to identify any existing vulnerabilities.
How does a Blue Team help to identify and prevent attacks?
Blue teams are often used in conjunction with other types of threat intelligence, such as vulnerability scans or penetration tests. The goal of these activities is usually to find vulnerabilities before attackers can exploit them. Blue teams are usually made up of employees from different departments within an organization, including IT, HR, legal, finance, marketing, sales, customer service, etc., as well as external partners such as law enforcement or intelligence agencies. The goal of a blue team is to investigate incidents in order to understand how attackers got into your network, what their motives were, and whether there was any malicious activity on your end.
Blue Team vs. Red Team Exercises: How They Are Different
Blue teams conduct operational network security evaluations and provide relevant mitigation tools and techniques for organizations seeking to gauge their defenses or prepare for red team attacks.
Blue teams are often composed of the security personnel within an organization, or that organization may select certain team members to create a dedicated team within the department. Blue teams may also be independent consultants hired for specific engagements who use their expertise to help audit the state of an organization's defenses.
When an organization schedules red team vs. blue team exercises, red teams may attempt a range of techniques to launch a successful attack. These techniques are very open-ended and not always confined to the digital realm.
Red team attacks may include scenarios such as a red team member posing as a vendor to infiltrate the target organization. This person may slip into the room undetected and quietly install malware, gaining network access.
Before getting started, red teams typically engage in digital reconnaissance to evaluate organizational defenses, then deploy various sophisticated attack techniques to compromise the target's security while avoiding detection.
Blue teams are tasked with rebuffing these attacks and exposing red team activity. This often begins with a detailed risk assessment of the organization's current security posture. Blue teams then may deploy a combination of human intellectual activity and technical tools to detect and rebuff red team incursions.
Ultimately, a blue team is expected to analyze log data, perform traffic analysis, execute audits, perform digital footprint and risk intelligence analysis, and take other similar steps to prevent any breaches and then rectify any uncovered vulnerabilities.
What is the value of Blue team testing?
A skilled blue team can play a critical role in helping to develop a comprehensive plan for organizational defense using the latest testing tools and techniques. Often, it's best to think of blue teams as the most active contingent of a security team.
Not all security team personnel specialize in tasks that are considered to be high-level or relevant enough for testing. Blue teams are focused on high-level threats and are dedicated to continuous improvement in detection and response techniques.
In addition to attention to detail, blue teams must also think creatively and have the ability to adapt on the fly. This is because many of the most effective red teamers (and black hat hackers) are remarkably adept at formulating novel and hard-to-predict attack techniques.
By evaluating the work of both red and blue teams, organizations can develop a holistic picture of their security posture and make any changes that may be required to ensure a robust overall defense.
A good blue team can provide valuable insights into the current state of your company's technology stack, allowing you to take actionable steps toward improving your security posture. Blue teams are often used in conjunction with other types of threat intelligence such as vulnerability scanning or penetration testing. The goal of these activities is to find vulnerabilities before attackers can exploit them.