What is a Blue Team?
In simple terms a blue team is the detection and investigation security specialists that do a lot of attack planning. They’re the squad that looks after the security of a company’s systems.
These teams help reduce the risk of potential attack while also maintaining the stability and performance of an organization’s IT infrastructure.
The tactics and techniques of a blue team will differ from a red team. However, red team members should be aware that many blue team approaches often involve the same software and techniques used by cyber criminals.
The two terms are often confused but if you’re thinking of taking up a role as a red teamer you can be sure you’re already familiar with how the company that hired you would work.
Likewise, if you’re seeking a role as a blue teamer you’ll have more or less familiar with the idea of blue teams and red teams. That’s because blue teams are constantly training themselves to be better than the red team’s processes and techniques.
When we say “blue teams” we mean the same as “red teams”, the members of which are mostly from the technical background, both are researchers who do advanced methods in the handling and investigation of malware.
The members of blue teams are often recruited from the security department of an organization. They will join a blue team as freelancers or may be included within the security department of a company.
The members of a blue team usually consist of six to ten people. They include cybersecurity professionals with excellent knowledge and experience, researchers who are looking for possibilities to commit malicious attacks and system administrators.
Security professionals who are looking for a job in the security industry are often recruited as blue team members.
What kinds of projects can a blue team do?
Blue teams are used to check, audit and validate a client's IT infrastructure. The test plan is usually put together by IT staff of a company after an attack by a hacker would have occurred, to determine if their infrastructure was damaged or not.
The blue teams would start by disarming and patching the software to make sure that the systems could withstand a cyber attack. In some cases the disarming is a short one, while in some the blue teams would have to restore all the files on servers and fix the vulnerabilities. The attacker will only be able to identify the targets and work with only a limited amount of time.
Once the blue team has acquired the assets that have been attacked, they will scan them for vulnerable servers, software, devices and systems. They can uncover weak spots and data leakage from almost anything in a company. Once they found a specific target, they can identify all of its assets, as well as its control points. From there they would start to attack
Simply put, this practice acts as a multi-disciplinary, multi-service organization focused on the cyber security of an organization, helping clients to remain in-tune with threats and mitigations so that the issues are prioritized and remediation can be easily managed.
A key benefit of the role of a blue team cybersecurity practice is that it provides a specialised and highly-trained cybersecurity team for the following scenarios:
• Higher-level threat assessments
• Incident response
• Disaster recovery planning
• Cloud-based security monitoring
• Threat hunting
• Proxy blocking and mitigation
• Upstream server and network hygiene
• Edge of network defense
• Operational transparency and reporting
To achieve these goals, the team needs to be highly-skilled, multi-talented
Blue teams are designed to complement the red team - already recognised as being critical to cybersecurity - in the fight against cyber-attacks.
In recent times, cyber security has shifted from being a tech issue to being a business issue, with IT and the board of directors having to play an increasing role in ensuring the security of their organisations. However, while cyber security blue teams have been around for a long time, a recent study found that 80 per cent of businesses had no strategy for the development of a blue team.
However, despite their lack of structure and backing, security teams are becoming increasingly critical for successful security, with 81 per cent of respondents noting they have identified a security incident in place.
Technology is advancing at an almost dizzying pace, but sadly, the same can't always be said for the same, old rules of leadership and business. Many managers still think that those with deep knowledge of the company and its products and customers are automatically the most qualified to drive new initiatives and change.
And of course, there are still plenty of companies that could benefit from a little fresh thinking – but not, so often, because they have failed to invest in IT infrastructure. But these days, there's a growing trend that's not all about the technology; a growing trend that's about the type of people who are doing the driving.
What is a blue team and what does it do?
It's more common to see blue teams showing up at the door of your network to diagnose a potential problem than it is to see your blue team breaking into your network and stealing your secrets and or leading you to buy something that is less secure than what you had originally considered.
When you think of blue teams, you probably think of those large companies that put the blue helmets and black body armor on their employees to fight crime on the streets. The real world examples of such a "blue team" include the military, law enforcement and other government agencies. One interesting tidbit is that blue teams are primarily white.
To give you a better understanding of what a blue team is and does. We discussed some of the different kinds of teams, how they operate, the use cases, and why they are important to consider when you're designing your network security policies.
What is a blue team?
A blue team is a set of security professionals that spend their time looking for problems within an organization. They are not security engineers, they are not network engineers, they are not software engineers – they just look for things that might be right now or might happen in the near future that would be impactful to your network.
They are a very advanced attack scenario that looks for problems and looks for things that might be the next breaches that are coming – so they're not your normal security audit that is run by somebody who works on the network side. They're looking for issues that are at the end of your stack.
Since it was run by a group of white collar and blue collar experts, it could actually be a bit more constructive in solving your most serious security issues.
In the sense that you're looking for things that are right around the corner that might be a problem, a white hat organization might be more likely to show up in your enterprise than a group of white helmets wearing black body armor and their target usually lives in an environment such as a network, storage area networks (SAN) or the cloud.
What kind of organizations might use blue teams?
When you start to think about which kinds of organizations might be using blue teams, it might be a lot of different groups. It's a whole series of industries from all different walks of life. You have governments and law enforcement, business, health care, legal, financial – everybody. All sorts of organizations are using them.
How are blue teams structured and what is their purpose?
While it's a good idea for an individual to just go out and go with the blue team, you can form one with your organization if you're comfortable doing so. A blue team is structured as a whole team, which doesn't really mean the same thing in a legal sense as it does in real world terms.
It's a combination of folks who look at security as an area of expertise and they have some kind of security background that they're bringing to the table. They have to have some legal issues covered and they might have network security background as well, so they're also bringing in some expertise outside of just security as well. "In this case, if you're considering forming a blue team, you could be talking about a whole bunch of folks from different parts of the organization, different organizations within the company – people that are familiar with a wide variety of security topics and they're looking for vulnerabilities."
A blue team is a team of people that have security backgrounds that are looking for security problems within a company. They'll sometimes have leadership roles on the team as well, but in many cases, it's just a collection of different experts that are from different organizations within your organization who are looking at the same vulnerabilities that you're looking at.
In addition to looking at vulnerabilities, the team can also be tasked to look at potential threats such as attacks from the outside – if a company has an employee whose job is to hack into systems or applications within the company, the team can go out and look for holes that that person may have found. "Some of the folks that are working on the blue team don't necessarily even need to know what the threat is that they're looking for.
With the technology available today, it is sometimes easy to point to a specific area that needs attention – whether it's a communications channel, a database or some other thing. That's a little bit of a misleading in that you can say, 'let's look at how we can fix this thing' – but it's not as easy as, let's write a tool to identify the security hole. "If you are trying to build a tool to detect where your vulnerabilities are and then you're building in a way where it actually identifies them for you, it's much harder than just 'I'm going to build a tool and find these vulnerabilities for you.' "The red team can do both of those things."
You often hear that companies must do more than just security, that they also need to look at things like customer experience and employee experience, and that IT needs to make sure the customer and the employee are happy with our service or whatever service they're interacting with.
"The fact that these things were related before is completely irrelevant. The fact that you've got to be able to deliver the service, is irrelevant. If you want to be able to protect the people who are using that service – that's the only thing that's really relevant.
This is an area where the companies that I work with are spending a lot of time talking to people. Red teams are not the only way that companies can look at the weaknesses in their systems and really start to see where they are strong and where they're weak. The red team is just one of many ways you can look at it, but I'd say it's probably the best way, as far as addressing the vulnerabilities that we've identified in the customers. There's so many others, but that's really where we've seen the majority of our focus in my experience.
What do you do once you've discovered weaknesses?
When the red team shows up, they've often already given an organization a template for the area where they think the vulnerabilities are, but a red team can also just go into any area – be it communications, Web apps or database access. The real magic of having a team like this, is that they'll talk you through where the vulnerabilities are and they'll give you an outline of what to fix first.
There are a lot of questions to answer for these issues. Who has access to the system? How do you create isolated environments? What's the governance of these systems? What's the dependency chain? I think that's where a lot of companies get confused about what the red team is all about.
This isn't just about plugging holes, it's about making sure you've got good processes in place to continuously look at what your system is doing and what the customers are doing with it, and if there are ways that you could be doing it in a safer way.