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18 October, 2018

BreachLock CEO Journal on Red Teaming for Cybersecurity

Red teaming has been a buzzword in the cybersecurity industry for the past few years. This idea has gained even more traction in the financial sector as more and more central banks want to complement their audit-based supervision with a more hands-on and fact-driven mechanism. There is a practical approach toward red teaming that can be used by any chief information security officer (CISO) as an input to conceptualize a successful red teaming initiative.

In this article, we will examine some of the key elements that should be considered when planning a red teaming initiative and how to effectively execute one. We will also cover how to create an effective red team that can provide valuable insights on vulnerabilities and ways to mitigate them.

Understanding Red Teaming

Red teaming is a process that provides a fact-driven adversary perspective as an input to solving or addressing a problem. For instance, cybersecurity red teaming can be seen as an exercise in which yearly spending projections are challenged based on the costs accrued in the first two quarters of the year.

In cybersecurity context, red teaming has emerged as a best practice wherein the cyberresilience of an organization is challenged by an adversary’s or threat actor’s perspective. This is a powerful means of providing the CISO a fact-based assessment of an organization’s security ecosystem. Such an assessment is performed by a specialized and carefully constituted team and covers people, process and technology areas. As a result, CISOs can get a clear understanding of how much of the organization’s security budget is actually translated into a concrete cyberdefense and what areas need more attention. A practical approach on how to set up and benefit from a red team in an enterprise context is explored herein.

Invest in Red Teaming

An organization invests in cybersecurity to keep its business safe from malicious threat agents. These threat agents find ways to get past the enterprise’s security defense and achieve their goals. A successful attack of this sort is usually classified as a security incident, and damage or loss to an organization’s information assets is classified as a security breach. While most security budgets of modern-day enterprises are focused on preventive and detective measures to manage incidents and avoid breaches, the effectiveness of such investments is not always clearly measured. Security governance translated into policies may or may not have the same intended effect on the organization’s cybersecurity posture when practically implemented using operational people, process and technology means. In most large organizations, the personnel who lay down policies and standards are not the ones who bring them into effect using processes and technology. This contributes to an inherent gap between the intended baseline and the actual effect policies and standards have on the enterprise’s security posture. Cyberthreats are constantly evolving, and threat agents are finding new ways to manifest new security breaches.

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