What is a Purple Team in Cybersecurity?
Purple Team vs. Red Team vs. Blue Team
Who’s on a purple team?
Purple teaming is a collaborative approach to security that combines the skills and techniques of both red and blue teams to evaluate and fortify an organization’s security posture.
What does a purple team do?
Red teams complete offensive tests, such as penetration tests and other ethical hacking activities, and blue teams try to block or detect them via defensive techniques that realistically mirror the organization’s network. In short, purple teams test and validate an organization’s security systems, processes, and procedures in a real-world environment to ensure they are effective when the adversary truly strikes.
What is the purpose of a purple team?
Fostering communication and collaboration between offensive and defensive teams gives security teams greater visibility and a real-world perspective on their security posture. By completing realistic purple teaming activities, security teams can determine their weaknesses, their most relevant threats, and where they should focus their efforts and resources.
Who’s on a red team?
Red teamers are experts in offensive security who test an organization’s security posture through simulated attacks that emulate real-world threat actors. They may be ethical hackers, penetration testers, or other offensive security team members.
What does a red team do?
Red teams simulate realistic attacks on their organization’s environment to assess their security standing and coverage. This is accomplished through offensive activities such as ethical hacking like social engineering attacks, penetration testing, and more exercises that emulate true threat actors.
What is the purpose of a red team?
If the red team fires an attack at the blue team that they can’t defend against, that’s an alarm signaling that there are gaps or weaknesses in the organization’s coverage. Red teams’ insights inform the blue team as to where they should be focusing their defensive efforts and what kinds of attacks the organization is most susceptible to. By emulating real-world threat actors and putting their security to the test, organizations can use red team findings to inform their security strategy and prioritize incoming threats.
Who’s on a blue team?
Blue teams are experts in defensive security, such as incident responders and analysts, and are responsible for defending against external and internal threats.
What does a blue team do?
Blue teams protect the organization from incoming attacks by identifying and responding to TTPs from the red team. They operate in an environment that reflects the organization’s, and have a thorough understanding of the tools and systems the security team uses. Their ultimate objective is to reduce the attack surface and block incoming threats.
What is the purpose of a blue team?
Blue team activities put an organization’s security defenses to the test in a realistic environment so they can adjust and fortify their approach before the real adversary strikes. They gain the valuable perspective and experience of defending against a threat actor without any of the risk.
What Are the Advantages and Benefits of Purple Teaming?
1. Purple teaming fosters communication and collaboration
While they typically operate in completely separate silos, purple teaming enables communication between red and blue teams.
When red and blue teams collaborate, they can develop a threat-informed defense strategy that’s continuously improved upon with feedback and insights from purple team exercises. By working together, both teams can gain a better understanding of each other’s findings and objectives, resulting in a more efficient and effective security posture.
2. Purple teaming reduces risk
Purple teaming provides key insights into an organization’s security risks and weaknesses in their defenses. Security teams that engage in purple teaming can update their risk register based on their findings and stay up-to-date with changes in their security posture.
3. Purple teaming makes teams more efficient
4. Purple teaming helps teams achieve proactive cybersecurity
Purple teaming tests defenses before the adversary strikes – meaning they don’t have to wait for the damage to be done before they can assess and strengthen their defenses.
5. Purple teaming identifies more relevant threats
6. Purple teaming reduces mean time to detect
Purple Teaming Frameworks
Traditional Purple Teaming
The most common purple teaming framework is the traditional approach. It’s a simple back-and-forth exercise wherein the red team fires an attack at the network, and the blue team attempts to identify and block the attack.
Automated Purple Teaming
While traditional purple teaming relies on manual processes between red and blue teams, automated purple teaming equips automation and advanced technology.
Some purple team activities that can be automated include:
- Pen testing tools
- Breach attack simulation tools
- Adversary emulation
Hybrid Purple Teaming
Continuous Purple Teaming
Continuous purple teaming, a type of hybrid purple teaming, is the fusion of threat-informed defense and collective defense, where red data (attacks), blue data (detection analytics), and the people who produce that data coexist and inform one another. This results in a continuous loop of enhanced security and an improved understanding of their own environment and coverage.
This integrated process leads to a robust, repeatable, and collaborative workflow that provides each team with the context necessary to leverage purple team findings. And best of all, a continuous workflow keeps teams up-to-date with the ever-evolving threat landscape.
How Do I Get Started With Purple Teaming?
1. Set Objectives
Successful purple teaming begins with a foundation of understanding about each team members’ role and objectives of the exercise. Additionally, purple teaming exercises should focus on a specific threat or threat actor – so the red team knows how to attack, and the blue team knows what to look out for.
2. Make a Plan
3. Monitor and Measure
To determine whether they’re on the right track, purple teams should monitor certain metrics, such as:
- Threats identified
- Mean Time to Detect/Respond (MTTD / MTTR)
- Risks mitigated
- Team progress
What Is a Purple Teaming Platform?
A purple teaming platform provides a centralized location for both red and teams to collaborate on their offensive and defensive exercises. With one streamlined location, purple teaming platforms make it faster and easier for red teams to share offensive insight so that blue teams can adjust and fortify defenses as necessary.
How SnapAttack Can Help
Finally aligned under shared goals and contextualized data, purple teams can gain complete visibility into their organization’s security standing – and where their efforts are needed most.
With attack emulation, detection development, automated validation, and defense measurement all in one place, teams gain the freedom to be proactive and the clarity to answer the question, “Are we protected?” with confidence.
Purple Teaming Resources