Red Team vs Blue Team Operations : How Does it Works?

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Security is a multifaceted field with multiple roles for carrying out diverse operations. In this article, we demystify the concept of the red and blue teams in security.

First, why do we need to bifurcate security roles for two teams on Penetration Testing? 

Simply put, a company’s security responsibilities are so wide that it’s impossible to be an expert in every field. In an attempt to provide encompassing and strong security posture, large organizations prefer to have different units within their security departments, fulfilling different purposes using advanced red team tools.

These are usually called the Red team vs Blue team. We’ll dive deep to understand what both mean, which tasks they handle, and how important they are.

Table of contents

The Blue Team: Defenders

  • SOC Analyst
  • Incident Responder
  • Digital Forensic & Incident Response Analysts
  • Threat Intelligence Analyst
  • Malware Analyst/Reverse Engineer

Blue teamers in the security department specialize in protecting the organization’s assets. They are responsible for ensuring that every company’s system is secured and patched, monitoring hacker activity to look for malicious signatures, and many other complex procedures.

They have to ensure and maintain strong product security, which is why multiple roles are defined even within blue teaming. 

Blue Team Tasks

Let’s take a look at a few of them below:

SOC Analyst

SOC stands for “Security Operations Center”, a sub-department continuously monitoring for anything unusual. SOC analysts do this job — they are the first line of defense in any organization, keeping an eye on multiple assets to determine if something malicious is happening.

SOC Analyst

Incident Responder

While SOC analysts are there to figure out and identify current and past threats, once an event or incident is uncovered, it’s the job of incident responders to take it forward with the help of incident response tools.

They have certain guidelines and strict procedures that must be followed to do proper containment and escalation after something occurs. They are usually part of CSIRT.

Incident Responder

Digital Forensic & Incident Response Analysts

They analyze artifacts and evidence after an event or compromise occurs. They perform tasks such as memory analysis, network, and event logs analysis, file system analysis, etc., where they look for how the attack was carried out to dig deeper into them and thoroughly investigate.

Threat Intelligence Analyst

After the information related to cybersecurity is collected and analyzed to understand cyber criminals’ motives, methods, etc., the finalized data is called threat intelligence.

People who do this are called threat intelligence analysts. They analyze indicators of compromises (IOCs) and categorize them according to different known threat actors so that the next time such IOCs are seen, they can be used to detect hackers.

IT analysts also create rules and signatures to detect certain patterns based on analysis of existing threat intelligence.

Threat Intelligence

Malware Analyst/Reverse Engineer

When cybercrimes are performed, they are usually executed by delivery of some form of malware that infects the victim’s system.

To understand how malware works, how to better protect against it, and to provide awareness of that malware further, it is important to break down the bad applications and study them. Reverse engineering is what most malware analysts do.

These are some commonly known roles that are popular among blue teams, but the list is exhaustive. Many other things, technical and non-technical alike, take place and relate to management, risk, and compliance to keep an organization safe. 

And many of the responsibilities overlap: a malware analyst could also be doing threat hunting and gathering intelligence, or incident responders detecting and mitigating attacks.

You are never doing one thing when you are part of a blue team, which leads to broader learning and growth as an individual.  

While blue teamers make sure everything is secure, they cannot wait until a hacker attack happens to find what weaknesses exist in the system. Any seasoned blue teamer will tell you attacks and breaches are inevitable.

To stay one step ahead of cybercriminals, another security team comes into play. It’s known as the Red team, which we will explore now.

The Red Team: Ethical Advisors

Red teamers are responsible for performing security actions from an attacker’s point of view. In essence, they perform adversary simulation.

Their tasks span from small pentests focussing on individual applications to large-scale pentests on a bigger scope or full-fledged red team activity.  Let’s define the difference between penetration testing and red teaming

Pentests are individual testing of products to look for vulnerabilities. It could be mobile app pentesting, web application penetration testing, or thick client pentesting.

This is the traditional way of testing applications. Red teaming is closer to modern needs; nothing is off the chart. 


Operatives utilize phishing, social engineering, OSINT, and even test physical security to gain entry. Their main focus is overall large-scale offensive operations.

Simply put: red team operatives cover the wide scale of the attack surface, techniques, and tactics, but pentesters look more focused on a defined scope and more detailed in deep.  All of them are still part of the offensive side of security.

While blue teams have specialized roles within them, there are no such clear divisions in red teams. One explanation for this could be that the red team is a unified process with only one goal — to compromise the product. 

For example, while the red team needs to find only a single lock open, the blue team has to ensure all the locks are secure! Introducing different roles inside the red team can be hard to manage and might decrease the efficiency of the operation.

However, some specific skills might differ from one operative to another. 

For example, one red team operative might be highly skilled in source code review and white box testing, while others might be an expert in hacking into a web application.

Multiple operatives with different skill sets come together to form a formidable red team and perform attacks to present a challenge to the blue team.

Red Team

While red team operations are taking place, the blue team on the other end continuously monitors the progress to check if they are able to stop them. And if not, they figure out where the breaches in the security system are and work on them with the red team to apply fixes.

This cycle continues as new products, tools, and workflows are added to a company’s ecosystem because it is better to be hacked by your own red team and be able to fix the issues instead of getting hacked by attackers and facing painful consequences!

Penetration Testing Tools: Bridging The Gap

We took a deep dive to shed light on the concepts of red and blue teams in security, what they do, why they do it, and why they are important for any organization.

But there is one thing that is crucial to the operations of both teams: communication. Without efficient communication between red and blue teams, things fall apart.

While various tools are used for communication, data gathering, etc., the traditional lack the necessary features to keep up with the fast pace of the security industry.

Hexway offers a complex solution catering to red teams and their clients. red team tool lets you gather all data in one place and allows collaborative working between team members.

It has import capabilities from multiple tools and formats, which helps in data aggregation. tools further allow you to enrich the working process by providing features such as tool integrations, checklists, reporting tools, creating issues and merging them, and many other things. 

While Red team tools help the operations on the offensive side of security, make sure clients get all information about found vulnerabilities so that they can start remediation as soon as possible. 


Security is an extremely vast field where the good and bad guys are never on the same playing field as new exploits, attacks, and vulnerabilities are uncovered daily.

Organizations and their security teams need to constantly stay on their toes and stay alert for any possible intrusion. Due to such diverse responsibilities, red and blue teams are required.

We went through the process of understanding the foundations of both teams and their utmost importance in protecting against cyber criminals. And how to aid the crucial security operations process; pentesting tools can be a game changer. pentesting tools help the pentesters, efficient tools that can plug into your PTaaS workflow and give your teams an edge over the bad guys.