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Blue Teaming

Definition: Blue Teaming refers to individuals performing defensive security measures to protect an organisation against actual and simulated cyber threats. Their primary role is to continuously strengthen the organisation's security posture by detecting, responding to, and recovering from security incidents

In the context of cyber security exercises, blue teams are responsible for maintaining and defending their own network and systems. This involves establishing security protocols, monitoring network traffic, analysing potential threats, implementing preventive measures, and responding to attacks when they occur. The concept originates from military practices, where “blue” represents friendly forces.

Blue Teaming is an ongoing process, not limited to periodic testing. It often involves collaboration with red teams (attackers) in exercises designed to provide a realistic scenario for defending against cyber attacks and improving incident response capabilities.

What does a blue team do in cyber security?

The blue team’s job is to find security vulnerabilities and fix them before they are exploited, so they must undertake numerous tasks to ensure the safety of their organisation’s infrastructure.

One task they must undertake is a risk assessment. This requires the blue team to identify the organisation’s critical assets and establish security measures to protect them from potential threats. The entire process is documented to remain a reminder of the risks pertaining to each identified asset. As the blue team also has access to the organisation’s systems, they must implement stricter access controls. They do this by adding new intrusion detection systems and educating employees.

To ensure no suspicious activity on the network, the blue team must also use monitoring tools to track activity, such as logging events and traffic inflow. To guarantee no anomaly within the system, the blue team may also perform DNS audits, which review the entirety of the company’s DNS infrastructure.

In the case of a security incident, the blue team will follow an incident response plan they have established before to contain the problem and reduce its impact. Once the incident is over, they will be responsible for conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the incident and the vulnerabilities present in the system that led to its occurrence.

What is the difference between the blue team and red team in cyber security?

The main difference between the blue and red teams is that one is offensive, and the other is defensive. As mentioned above, the blue team are incident response consultants who assist with improving the organisation’s cyber security. The red team, in contrast, attempts to exploit potential weaknesses to identify areas that need improvement.

The two teams are created to achieve differing goals, so each team has a unique skill set. The blue team must have a deep understanding of the company’s security strategy, which outlines the organisation’s major security concerns and includes plans to resolve these concerns. Alongside that, blue team members must also have strong analytic skills to identify threats accurately and a keen awareness of the company’s existing security detection tools.

On the other hand, red team members require strong software development skills to develop their tools. They must also have experience in penetration testing so they know what activities to avoid and which vulnerabilities to exploit.

As you can see, the blue team’s skill set relies heavily on understanding the measures and tools already in place and at their disposal to identify and neutralise risks. The red team’s skill set requires much more creativity as you act as a would-be attacker.

Key Characteristics:

  • Defensive Focus: Protecting the organisation’s information systems through proactive and reactive measures.
  • Continuous Improvement: Using insights gained from security testing and incident response to enhance security controls and processes.
  • Collaboration: Often collaborating with red teams (offensive security) to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities through exercises and testing.
  • In-depth Analysis involves thoroughly analysing existing security infrastructure to identify and close gaps that attackers can exploit.

Examples:

  • Real-World Example: A financial institution’s blue team implements advanced intrusion detection systems and conducts regular security audits to prevent data breaches.
  • Hypothetical Scenario: During a red team exercise, the corporate blue team successfully detects and mitigates a simulated phishing attack without disrupting business operations.

Related Terms:

  • Red Teaming: The practice of adopting an adversarial approach to test the effectiveness of an organisation’s security by simulating attacks.
  • Purple Teaming: A collaborative security exercise where both red and blue teams work together to enhance a company’s defensive strategies.
  • Incident Response: The methodology used by blue teams to handle and recover from cybersecurity incidents.

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