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Red team

(also red teaming)

Red team definition

A red team refers to a group of cybersecurity professionals contracted to simulate actual cyberattacks and assess an organization's security protocols. Their main objective is to uncover potential weaknesses, reinforce security measures, and enhance the overall preparedness of an organization's security system. This is achieved by utilizing a range of attack strategies and mimicking the actions of real-life attackers.

See also: vulnerability, vulnerability management system, vulnerability assessment

Red team examples

  • Social engineering attacks: Red teams may pose as employees or customers to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information or systems.
  • Network penetration testing: Red teams test the resilience of an organization's network by attempting to exploit known and undiscovered vulnerabilities.
  • Physical security testing: Red teams may attempt to gain unauthorized physical access to a facility or data center to assess the effectiveness of security controls.

Red team vs. blue team

While red teams emulate the behavior of cyberattackers, blue teams are responsible for defending an organization's network and information systems. Blue teams work to detect, analyze, and respond to security breaches or incidents, often using the findings of red team exercises to improve their defensive strategies.

Pros and cons of red teaming


  • Identifies vulnerabilities before attackers can exploit them.
  • Provides valuable insights into an organization's security posture.
  • Encourages the development of more robust and comprehensive security measures.


  • Can be resource intensive, requiring time and skilled personnel.
  • May cause unintended disruptions to regular operations if not managed properly.

Red teaming tips

  • Establish clear goals and objectives for red team exercises.
  • Collaborate with blue teams and other stakeholders to ensure alignment.
  • Incorporate the latest threat intelligence and attack techniques into red team scenarios.
  • Conduct regular debriefings to share findings and promote continuous improvement.