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Red Team vs Blue Team in Cybersecurity – What’s the Difference? (Explained). This article is about security and ways to work toward improving an organization’s security. So what is red team vs blue team, when it comes to cyber security?

We start with introducing the two groups that are responsible for security or the attack. The first is a attack group, whose task is called ethical hacking. As if, red team pretends to be an attacker, only to assess weak points and risks in a controlled environment. 

Secondly, there is a blue team. Primarily, it assesses security environment of the organization and protects against attacks by the red team.

In this article, we learn about the red team and blue team. In addition, we also learn how they work and get to know their benefits and features. At the very end, we will familiarize ourselves with their pros and cons and compare them against each other.

Let’s start with Red Team vs Blue Team in Cybersecurity – What’s the Difference? (Explained). 

What is Red Team in Cybersecurity?

Image Source: cybervie

First of all, this particular group, that is red team tests your organization’s security posture to see how it works before a real time attack occurs. Because of their role as forwards, team drills are also called red teams.

Interestingly, their intention is to identify and assess security vulnerabilities, test assumptions, review alternative attack options, and expose security restrictions and threats to the organization.

Once inside the network, red teams escalate their privileges and move systems sideways to penetrate the network as deeply as possible, obtaining data while avoiding detection. Moreover, red teams typically gain initial access by stealing user information or using social engineering techniques.

When should you use a Red Team?

1. Routinely – As your organization grows, even if the threat seems moderate, it should be tested.

2.When sabotage or a new attack occurs – Whether it happened in your environment or not, when you see or hear about the latest attack, you need to know how you would react if it happened to you, hopefully in a timely manner, so right now.

3.When implementing new policies or security programs in your organization – You want to check out how you stack up against real attackers. 

Your red team must step in and simulate the opponent’s attack without knowing your main base to see how these deployments stack up.

How does it work?

In order to know the best way to understand the details of a red team is to look at the process of running a typical red team exercise. Below you find the five stage course of action presented below.

Image Source: varonis

Firstly, the most important thing to keep in mind when examining an attack is that small vulnerabilities in a single system can become catastrophic failures, when combined. Hackers in the real world are always greedy and try to exploit more systems and data than they did in the first place.

Benefits of using Red Team in Cybersecurity?

  • Assesses an organization’s ability to detect, respond to, and prevent complex and targeted threats.
  • Work closely with internal incident response and blue teams to provide targeted treatment and comprehensive post assessment workshops.
  • Techniques, Tactics, and Procedures (TTPs) that effectively mimic real threat actors in how risk is managed and controlled.
  • Determines the attack risk and vulnerability of critical corporate information assets.


  • Used as a rating tool to determine a person’s ability to perform a task.
  • Identifies security vulnerabilities.
  • Effectiveness of security tests against processes and people.
  • Assessment of preparedness to defend against cyber attacks.

What is Blue Team in Cybersecurity?

Image Source: cybervie

Accordingly, the Blue Team is made up of security professionals with the vision of the organization. Their job is to protect the vital assets of the organization from any kind of threat.

Importantly, they are already familiar with the organization’s business goals and security policies. Hence, their task was to fortify the city walls to prevent the invaders from destroying the fortifications and strongest of the base.

How does it work?

Chiefly the blue team starts by gathering data, documenting exactly what needs to be protected and performing a risk assessment. They then strengthened access to the system in a number of ways. 

Evidently the blue team will perform periodic system checks such as DNS audits, analyze internal or external network vulnerabilities, and take samples of network traffic for analysis. Monitoring tools are often available so that system access information can be logged and abnormal activity can be checked.

Features of using Blue Team in Cybersecurity

  • Selects the command and control server (CandC or C2) for the red/threat team representative and block their contact with the target.
  • Identifies suspicious traffic patterns and identify intrusion indicators.
  • Performs analysis and medical testing of the various operating systems operated by your organizations, including the use of third party systems.
  • Avoids any kind of quick settlement.


  • Enhanced network security to detect targeted attacks and improve breakout time.
  • Skills and maturity to develop organizational security capabilities in a secure, low risk training environment.
  • Identifies misconfigurations and coverage gaps in existing security products.
  • Increases healthy competition among security personnel and improves collaboration between IT and security teams.


  • Digital tracking analysis.
  • Lowest privilege access.
  • Builds a firewall and antivirus on the endpoints.
  • DNS domain name system review.
  • Network traffic monitoring.
  • IDS Intrusion Detection System and IPS Intrusion Prevention System are two programs that are used as investigators and preventive measures, respectively.

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Red Team vs Blue Team- What's the difference?

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Forthwith the red team acts as the intruder, while the blue team is responsible for protecting the organization from such attacks. These tests, include real world attacks, and ensures that every employee is trained to understand and protect to comply with cyber security regulations. 

In nutshell, the red team simulates an attack on the blue team to test the effectiveness of the network’s security. Additionally, actions of these red and blue teams provide a comprehensive security solution. Overall, that takes into account emerging threats while maintaining strong defences.

Below and next we discuss the main difference between the red team and the blue team.

Skills Table Comparison

Red Team Blue Team
Thorough knowledge of computer systems, protocols, security methods, tools and precautions.
Complete understanding of the organization's security policies.
Strong software development capabilities.
Analytical skills to identify potential threats to an organization.
Experience in penetration testing.
Know your organization's security detection tools and systems.

Overall Role comparison

Offensive (red team) vs Defensive (blue team)

Red teams are offensive experts that test a variety of infrastructure applications and comprehensive defences. Also, red teams try to circumvent blue team cybersecurity procedures and controls. 

Purpose of the Red Team is to act as a threat actor in the real world without disrupting the infrastructure. The end game is to inform the organization of its security breaches.

On the other hand Blue teams specialize in defence and build strong defences to ward off attacks.

Skills and Capabilities

Red team

The red team members know of:

  • IT systems and protocols.
  • Knowledge of frameworks such as MITRE ATT and CK Framework. A globally accessible knowledge base of adversary tactics, techniques and methods based on real world experiences and events.
  • Penetration tests and listening skills.
  • Knowledge of black box testing, Windows and Linux operating systems, network protocols, and various programming languages ​​including Python, Java, Ruby, and more.
  • Social engineering skills to be able to manipulate users into sharing their details, 
Blue Team

Blue team member skills include:

  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of your organization’s security policies and infrastructure.
  • Undergoing DNS research.
  • Performing digital analysis in order to have a baseline of network activity.
  • Experience in managing security detection tools and systems.
  • Checking security firewalls, antivirus software that the settings are correct and system is up to date. 
  • Analysis skills and applying micro segmentation technique (creating small zones to maintain separate access to every part of the network).

Scope and objective

Red team

The red team has a specific task and its role is clearly defined.

The primary objective of the red team is to implement real-world attack scenarios to uncover potential threats to the organization’s IT ecosystem. You are not limited to a specific set of specific assets.

Blue Team

The mission of the blue team can change depending on the attack strategy of the red team. Moreover proactive computer system protection against real attackers or red teams.

Measures used

Red team

Red teams use methods and tools such as social engineering, phishing campaigns, password crackers, keyloggers, and more. They are familiar with the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) of threat actors, as well as cyber attack tools and frameworks.

Blue Team

Defensive teams are always looking for more action. The blue team is responsible for providing security awareness training to employees and ensuring that all software, hardware and other systems are updated and vulnerabilities are patched.

Updates, tests, implements and improves the organization’s cybersecurity tools and procedures. The team also installs intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) on the enterprise network and implements endpoint security on employee workstations.

Success parameters

For penetration testers and red team operators, the number of failed or skipped checks is a measure of success.

The success of the blue team is that the red team discovers weaknesses so that the blue team can improve its strategy to improve its security posture.

Can/ should they work together?

Definitely so. They work together by applying a team exercises. This is critical for robust and effective security strategy. By undergoing these checks , they help pinpoint weaknesses in  log in details, processes and network security level. In addition, they open other weaknesses or vulnerabilities in security architecture, that you do not know exists.

Those red vs blue team tests should be done on regular intervals. 

Thank you for reading Red Team vs Blue Team in Cybersecurity – What’s the Difference? (Explained). We will conclude this article. 

Red Team vs Blue Team in Cybersecurity – What’s the Difference? Conclusion

Summarizing, the defence team ( blue team) is responsible for internal penetration testing, system hardening, and patch management. It also reviews configurations, implements changes, monitors logs, analytics, plans, and solutions.

But, the main role of the offensive team (red team) is to help the organization to identify various security vulnerabilities, as well as to discover vulnerabilities in case of system failure. 

Red team recommendations build a particular organization’s defences by focusing their efforts on intelligently penetrating systems by exploiting system weaknesses.

The collaboration between the Red and Blue teams aims to improve security and strengthen the organization’s security posture.


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Edyta Wisniowska

Edyta Wisniowska

I am a Linux and Windows enthusiast and cyber security researcher. Currently working as InfraSOS technical writer and content manager.

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