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What is a red team assessment?

Red team assessments are targeted cyber-attack simulations. Essentially, experts act like cybercriminals and try to penetrate the company’s cyber defences. These experts keep up to date with all of the latest techniques used by real cybercriminals. The idea is that this is a safe way to see how great your defences are and to identify weak spots that can then be strengthened before real cyber criminals take advantage of them.

This is a targeted, yet realistic simulated attack that is carried out covertly over a long period. Though many confuse this process with penetration testing, they’re not the same thing. Unlike penetration testing, red teaming covers a wider range of techniques over a longer timeline. It’s a more realistic approach as the assessors attempt a large variety of attacks and operate covertly, just like real hackers would.

The assessors carrying out a red team assessment try to penetrate the organisation through its technology, processes and even its personnel. These attack attempts don’t just find the weaknesses but they also test the company’s cyber security detection systems too.

What does a red team assessment include?


Physical security testing

The red team with evaluate how effective the organisation’s existing security measures are. This includes its digital defences as well as its physical ones within the building itself.

Physical security testing looks at access controls (keycard entry, biometrics, physical security mechanisms, etc.), perimeter security (fences, gates, etc.) surveillance systems, and security guard vulnerabilities.

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Social Engineering

This is a common psychological manipulation tactic that aims to deceive employees into divulging information, providing unauthorised access or carrying out certain tasks.

Examples include phishing, baiting (leaving around a physical device like a USB drive that a curious employee might insert), impersonating and phone calls.

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Human Manipulation

This goes beyond social engineering and focuses on broader psychological tactics like befriending, influencing and persuading following psychological profiling and targeting.


Do I Need Regular Red Team Assessments? Final Thoughts.

Safeguarding your organisation against the cyber threat landscape requires careful consideration. A robust defence strategy is simply not enough and organisations must be proactive in their approach.

Red team assessments are a tool that allows businesses to test, learn and adapt their systems. These assessments provide a realistic simulation of cyberattacks and offer invaluable, personalised insights into the organisation’s vulnerabilities.

Deciding to take on a red team assessment shouldn’t be a one-off. Both cyber threats and organisations evolve, which means that these should be a regular occurrence. When organisations prioritise regular red team assessments, they show they’re committed to being proactive by staying ahead of emerging threats.

Unfortunately, cyber threats are a persistent reality and so this proactive approach can help protect organisations and their data continually.

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