The purple team is designed as a feedback bridge between the red and blue teams, modifying their approach to be more proactive, direct and in the end, more effective in terms of an organization’s overall security posture. This doesn’t have to be a new, separate or “third” group of experts; it’s more of a methodology. Think of it as a security practise which allows for sharing intelligence data between the two, supporting real-time feedback and communicating their insights with one another.
Here’s one example of how purple teaming works: Instead of conducting one annual pen test, the red team sends the report, the blue team responds with remediation, and they collaborate. The red team advises on how to prioritize vulnerability management and patching critical flaws while the blue team monitors the red team, and shares insights on the red team’s activities and testing, in an effort to uncover deeper weaknesses in the system.
This approach will strengthen both sides. The blue team becomes more informed about how to prioritize, measure and improve their ability to detect threats and attacks, and the red team learns more about technologies and mechanisms used in defense. This can lead to finding more advanced attack vectors and understanding more sophisticated attack methods.
Now that we’ve seen what purple team is, let’s see how your organization can benefit from adopting this particular security methodology.
Sometimes a breach can take place with the attacker bypassing all defenses, and the blue team doesn’t even notice it happening. This doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of skill or technology on the blue team’s part, but rather the complexity of the attacker’s techniques or the sophistication of their attack vectors.
The purple team exists to eliminate this possibility. Red and blue teams working together means engaging in constant knowledge transfer and simulating real-life attack scenarios. This way, the red team will enhance the organization’s vulnerability management process while the blue team gets into the attackers’ mindset, to develop better incident response programs and vulnerability detection processes.
As we’ve said before, the goal for both red and blue teams is to improve an organization’s security defenses, just as it’s the organization’s goal to foster a healthy company cybersecurity culture. With purple teaming, the first incentive is strong, regular communication between offense and defense, a constant flow of information and symbiotic work.
Again, a purple team doesn’t have to be a newly assembled team, it can function as an exercise between the two existing teams. What’s important is encouraging communication and collaboration between team members, to promote constant improvement of the organization’s cybersecurity culture.
The final and most important benefit is a better security posture for your organization. Without purple teams’ constant communication, regular security audits, new defense techniques, threat hunting, vulnerability management and development of improved security infrastructure and policies, organizations wouldn’t stand a chance against malicious actors. After all, every team, whatever their color, is there to help you better prepare for any cyber threat that comes your way.