Purple team security is a methodology where so-called red and blue security teams work closely to maximize their cyber capabilities through continuous feedback and knowledge transfer. It helps security teams improve their vulnerability detection, threat hunting, and network monitoring through accurate simulations of common threat scenarios and creating new techniques to prevent and detect new threats.
You can think of purple team security or purple teaming as a red and blue team security combination. We’ll tell you all about each type of security methodology in the following sections.
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Let’s start by discussing each kind of security methodology.
What Are the Three Security Methodologies?
Organizations employ three security methodologies to defend their networks from old and new threats.
- Red security team: A red security team can be an internal or external team of security experts that test how effective a security program is. To do that, it mimics attackers in the most realistic way possible, using their tools and techniques. While it is similar to penetration testing, it is not the same. Penetration testing does not revolve around specific objectives; red teaming does.
- Blue security team: A blue security team is an internal team tasked to defend against real attackers and red security teams. It differs from a standard security team, though, in that the latter doesn’t practice constant vigilance against attacks.
- Purple security team: A purple security team ensures and maximizes the effectiveness of red and blue security teams. It uses the defensive tactics and measures of the blue team against the threats and vulnerabilities the red team found.
The diagram below shows the differences we pointed out above in the simplest way.
Now that we’ve distinguished a purple security team from red and blue security teams, we can go more into the nitty-gritty of purple teaming.
What Are the Benefits of Purple Team Security?
Purple team security gives organizations several advantages, including the following:
- Enhances security knowledge: Observing and participating in attack simulations allow security teams to understand how threat actors operate. That knowledge lets them employ better solutions to address all kinds of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).
- Boosts performance without increasing budgets: Combining defense and offense lets organizations enhance security monitoring at less cost.
- Streamlines security improvements: Working together allows red and blue teams to nurture a collaborative culture that ultimately improves an organization’s cybersecurity posture.
- Provides critical insights: Red teams can understand gaps in an organization’s security and identify areas for capability enhancement.
Purple team security, in a nutshell, allows red and blue teams to learn from each other, thus beefing up an organization’s overall cybersecurity.
What Does a Purple Security Team Do?
A purple security team is tasked to do the following:
- Work with red and blue teams to analyze how they work together and recommend adjustments that may be required in the future.
- See the big picture by considering the mindset and responsibilities of red and blue teams. (To improve the red team, a purple security team member observes how the blue team detects events and incidents. The team member then tells the red team how to circumvent the detection. That enhances the red team’s capabilities. To enhance the blue team, meanwhile, a purple security team member observes how the red team instigates attacks. The team member then tells the blue team how to address the situation. That makes the blue team stronger.)
- Analyze observation findings and oversee required remedial actions, including vulnerability patching and employee awareness training implementation.
- Derive maximum value from exercises by applying learning and ensuring more robust defenses.
What Do Members of a Purple Security Team Need to Learn?
Given the extent of what purple security teams do, its members should know how to:
- Build and deploy multi-domain enterprise environments
- Implement realistic adversary emulation plans to bolster breach prevention and detection
- Develop custom tools and plugins to fine-tune red and purple teaming exercises
- Deliver advanced attacks, including bypassing application whitelisting, performing cross-forest attacks, and applying stealth persistence strategies
- Build SIGMA rules to detect advanced adversary techniques
Purple team security ultimately improves an organization’s cybersecurity posture. It enhances the collaboration between red and blue teams, thus increasing their learning experiences. It incorporates vulnerability management with event and incident detection.