The 5 Keys to Building a Red Team

It’s not just about hiring a group of people and dubbing them as part of a Red Team. There are some important steps to ensure you are hiring the right people for the job at hand with a focused goal in mind. Here are the five key steps to build out a successful Red Team:

1. Have the Right Conditions

Oftentimes when looking for jobs people are seeking a good culture-fit. A place where they are challenged and won’t become stagnant in their abilities or uninspired causing them to not reach their full potential.

The same goes for those that look to work as part of a Red Team. These individuals are very skilled and high-level critical thinkers that enjoy challenging different work environments. That being said, you should plan to provide an open learning culture with the ability to continuously try new things and improve upon skills. This creates an appealing situation for ethical hackers out there and will entice them to join a team where everything isn’t done in a “cookie-cutter” fashion. That pushing the bar when it comes to different strategies behind penetration testing and escalating throughout an environment is encouraged – within means – will create a diversified and better developed team in the long run.

2. Set Clear Objectives

Plan red teaming from the outset. When you are first aware that you have the means to build out a red team build out your team purpose first. You won’t be able to measure the successes if this is planned as an afterthought. A Red Team should be an integral part of your security posture and, as such, it should have measurable goals in mind.

In past weeks we’ve discussed setting SMART goals. Now, this is where you should put this into action. Setting clear objectives from the get-go will help you build out your team with the right members on board and with awareness of the expectations for the project. Having your end goal in mind as you’re building and planning out both the team and project at hand will provide a clear picture across the board.

3. Get the Right Tools

Red teaming is about more than penetration testing. Make sure that your team has the right testing, vulnerability management and any other assessment tools needed in order to get the job done. Depending on past experience members of the team will have had experience using different tools to complete the same task – so ensuring you are not duplicating tools that can do the same thing is also important from a business perspective.

You will need a tool that can scale with you as your team grows. Consider tools with named user pricing so that you can add users when the time is right for you and your budget.

4. Support the Team

Their skill set is very technical and once they’re hired, trust them to handle the job at hand. When working as an ethical hacker it’s likely that this is not their first time escalating throughout a network which means they have the skills and the smarts to try different angles and to challenge the network with everything they have.

These employees are incredibly valuable to your organization and the security posture you are working to obtain. Make sure you provide them the help that they may need and otherwise leave them to complete the mission set out before them.

5. Focus on Key Issues

Red teaming should produce quality thinking and advice, not qualitative results. With that, make sure you are utilizing your Red Team for what they were hired to do. It all circles back to setting out goals before building the team. With that in mind, know that as they complete one project they are likely already onto the next one.

Key issues can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different companies. Make sure that the team understands the priorities at hand surrounding day-to-day work is fluid in that it can change pending what threats are in your infrastructure. Remember, if all you want are a list of vulnerabilities, you need a scanner, not a Red Team. This team is here to work on the most pressing issues you have, no matter what they are or when they arise.

There are a few critical pieces to ensure you aren’t setting yourself up to be disappointed. Ensuring you, and all that will be working alongside a Red Team, know the difference in what roles each member plays and how they work together as well as the function of common must-have tools will aid in setting your entire organization up for success. 

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