Red Team Blue Team

Red Team/ Blue Team in Cyber Security

In an increasingly interconnected world, cybersecurity has emerged as a paramount concern. The year 2022 alone witnessed a staggering 493.33 million ransomware attacks, underscoring the urgency for organizations to fortify their digital fortresses against these pervasive threats. 

Amid this escalating battle, the practice of Red Team/ Blue Team exercises has emerged as proactive strategy, not only thwarting potential risks but also forging robust preparedness against the looming specter of cyber threats and attacks. 

In this article, we will dive deep into the topic, and talk in-depth about what the Red Team/ Blue Team exercise is, what are the responsibilities of each team, and how companies conduct this exercise successfully.

Red Team vs Blue Team Defined

Simply put, a red team blue team exercise is a simulation of a cyberattack, where two teams – red and blue – are pitted against each other. The red team represents the attackers, and the blue team represents the defender’s side. 

Cybersecurity professionals often refer to them as an offensive team (red team) and a defensive team (blue team) during the process. This exercise typically takes place on a cyber range that simulates the real-world IT infrastructure that the organization is looking to protect. 

The main responsibility of facilitating a red team blue team exercise falls under the instructor. Generally, they take care of planning and preparing the exercise, selecting the participants for each team, and providing guidance to the participants throughout the exercise. 

Participants of the exercise are mostly IT professionals or security personnel who are responsible for securing the organization’s IT infrastructure.

Benefits of a Red Team vs Blue Team Approach

The red team blue team exercise plays a pivotal role in preparing an organization and defending it against all different sorts of ever-increasing cyber-attacks. Most importantly, these exercises can help enterprises in the following ways:

  • Proactive Vulnerability Identification. By probing potential weaknesses and identifying vulnerabilities, organizations can shore up their defenses before actual attacks manifest.
  • Enhanced Network Security. The exercise serves as a crucible for refining network security systems, galvanizing them against a barrage of simulated assaults.
  • Strategic Improvement Insights. Uncovering areas for improvement becomes second nature, as organizations gain invaluable insights into their cybersecurity posture.
  • Hands-On Experience in Detection and Containment. Practicing detection and containment of simulated attacks equips the team with real-world experience, a vital asset in crisis management.
  • Elevated Security Awareness. An indispensable byproduct is the heightened security consciousness permeating throughout the organization’s staff.
  • Effective Response Protocols. By engaging in these exercises, organizations craft meticulous response protocols, ensuring swift and decisive actions in the event of an actual attack.

What Is a Red Team?

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) glossary, Red Team refers to “a group of people authorized and organized to emulate a potential adversary’s attack or exploitation capabilities against an enterprise’s security posture.”

They are a group of cybersecurity professionals who come together to act as adversaries or challengers and overcome different cybersecurity controls. 

The goal is to break the system and find weak spots by utilizing available techniques to identify weaknesses in people, processes, and technology and gain unauthorized access to different assets that the company holds. 

This way, red teams determine system vulnerabilities and make recommendations on what to improve to achieve a strong security posture for an organization. 

Responsibilities of a Red Team

Members of the offensive team must think like hackers and try their best to breach the security of an enterprise (with their permission). In order to achieve this, they have to perform different attacks, such as social engineering attacks, penetration tests, and phishing campaigns, to gather as much information as possible.  

Typically, red teams spend more time planning an attack than performing these attacks. They need to deploy different methods to reach their goal and gain access to the network. 

For them, it is important to expose the operating systems that the organization is using, create a network map, understand physical controls, and identify the exact models of networking equipment such as switches, servers, firewalls, etc. 

Examples of Red Team Exercises

There are various methods and tools that red teams use to find network vulnerabilities during the red team blue team exercise. For them, the aim of this exercise is to break into the organization’s system at all costs per the terms of the agreement. 

Here are some of the red team activities:

  • Social engineering. This activity aims to persuade members of the organization to share their network credentials.
  • Penetration testing. In this case, red team members try to access the system using different software tools. 
  • Cloning. The aim of this activity is to gain access to unrestricted areas by cloning an administration’s access cards. 
  • Intercepting communication. Here the red team wants to gain information about the environment to find their way around common security techniques. 

What Is a Blue Team?

Blue team, in this exercise setup, has the responsibility to defend an enterprise’s use of information systems and maintain a security posture against attackers. The goal of the blue team is to protect their enterprise’s assets against threats and attacks. 

Generally, members of the blue team are security professionals who have an inside view of an enterprise. They provide guidance to the IT security team and give them instructions on making improvements to stop cyberattacks. The IT security team is responsible for maintaining the internal network throughout the exercise. 

Responsibilities of a Blue Team

The blue team is responsible for gathering data and pointing out exactly what needs to be protected, which leads to carrying out a risk assessment. They arrange more secure access to the systems by introducing initiatives like stronger password policies and educating staff on potential risks. 

They are in control of different tools that help them monitor ongoing processes and ensure the security posture of an organization by checking access information and reporting in case of unusual activity. 

This helps them to establish security measures around key assets of an enterprise. They identify critical assets, document the significance of these assets, and measure the impact of their absence on the business.  

Examples of Blue Team Exercises

Blue teams use many different kinds of tools and techniques to ensure the high-level security of their network. They need to adjust to the situation and figure out if additional security layers and firewalls have to be installed to strengthen their security posture. 

Here are some of the blue team activities:

  • Mastering Domain Name Systems (DNS). Thwarting phishing attacks and averting DNS-related pitfalls through vigilant research.
  • Digital Fingerprinting. An intricate task of tracking and verifying employee activity within the network’s labyrinthine passages.
  • Software Security Vigilance. Regular reviews, configurations, and monitoring of security software, bolstering the digital citadel.
  • Principles of Least Privilege. Administering the minimum required access rights, limiting unauthorized movement across the digital dominion.

How Do Companies Conduct an Effective Exercise?

Typically, there is an appointed instructor who facilitates a red team blue team exercise. This person is responsible for planning and preparing the exercise, selecting the participants, and providing thorough guidance to the participants during the exercise. 

The participants in this exercise are mostly IT professionals or security personnel who take responsibility for securing the organization’s IT infrastructure. 

The process starts with the instructor providing a briefing to both teams. The red team briefing includes information about the target organization’s IT infrastructure, vulnerabilities, and attack vectors. Blue team briefing, on the other hand, includes information about the red team’s tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).

After this step, the red team begins executing their attack using different methods such as malware, phishing, social engineering, and exploitation of vulnerabilities. 

At the same time, the blue team is preparing to detect, respond, and mitigate this attack using various techniques, such as firewalls, detection systems, and security information and event management (SIEM) systems. 

For a more in-depth overview of the process of this exercise, have a look at this article on our blog.

How Do Teams Work Together?

One of the essential factors in Red Team Blue Team collaboration is the communication between these two teams during the exercise. 

It is important for the blue team to stay up to date with the new technologies and prevention techniques, while red team members need to have information about the latest threats or vulnerabilities. This way, they can advise each other on processes and ensure smooth collaboration to strengthen the security of their organization.


Simulating a Red Team Blue Team exercise and having the team prepared is crucial for organizations worldwide to test their networks and spread awareness among their team members on what to do when cybersecurity incidents occur.

Running this exercise through cyber range technology can make it easier for organizations to increase their cyber defense capabilities and improve cyber resilience overall. 

At CybExer, we have been at the forefront of sharing this industry since 2016. Our team is committed to providing organizations with advanced Cyber Range technology, which will help them prepare and tackle upcoming cyber challenges. 

Our platform offers a wide range of advanced cyber security training modules designed to enhance the cyber capabilities of organizations on a global scale. 

If you’d like to learn more about our offering, schedule a call with our cyber range experts to discuss how CybExer can help you address your organization’s needs.