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What Cybersecurity Strategies Can We Take from Our Armed Forces?

As the military has long known, and as breached enterprises figured out, it is not smart to have the same people who manage systems also audit them for cybersecurity holes. That’s why businesses are turning to the tried and true “red team, blue team” security approach to provide a fully transparent breakdown of the areas they need to address to remain secure.

Originally, the “red team, blue team” approach was employed by the military to test force-readiness. The red team would attack something, and the blue team would defend it. In the 1990s, this tactic began to be used by security companies to test IT security systems. The aim of this exercise is to understand a business’ ability to detect and respond to a cyberattack. It is also a way to determine the level of security maturity the business has reached.

When this strategy is used for cybersecurity purposes, the red team is typically focused on assessing the security of either an application, an IT infrastructure, or in some cases even a physical environment. This often occurs in the form of penetration testing, assuming the role of a hacker that detects and exposes vulnerabilities that pose a threat to a company’s cybersecurity. Other techniques include phishing attempts aimed at employees, as well as social engineering that involves impersonating an employee to try to obtain access to protected information.

On the other hand, the blue team deploys and manages a company’s infrastructure and defenses. The blue team is typically tasked with finding ways to prevent the red team from accessing protected information and thwarting their attack. They often employ software like an intrusion detection system (IDS) that provides them with an ongoing analysis of unusual and suspicious activity.

This strategy addresses best practices when it comes to preventing a cyberattack. Simply “checking compliance boxes” for security and risk management is not enough to protect businesses from the day to day realities that are ever-evolving. As cybersecurity threats continue to grow and show no signs of stopping, businesses are rightfully looking to experienced security experts for help. No one person or organization should be expected to holistically protect the firm from ever-increasing complex threats.

In an era of ubiquitous managed services firms, where many advertise a “complete” cybersecurity offering, others choose to stand by the tried and true principle of “red team, blue team.” The danger of having one company handle all of your cybersecurity needs – from infrastructure to penetration testing – is that they may not be able to be truly transparent about their findings. A complete and effective security infrastructure is only possible when two teams, without bias, are working together to prepare for a cyber-attack.

Discover your ace “blue team” partner in Entara, as we collaborate with your “red team” to conduct detailed assessments, address findings, and provide input to policy discussions. Click here to start putting the military’s best insights into action to protect your business.