Red Teaming | Cybersecurity | softScheck Singapore

What is Red Teaming and How Does It Work?

What is Red Teaming and How Does It Work

We’ve heard the phrase “the best offence is a good defence”. Red teaming essentially helps organisations strengthen their defences so that they secure their business assets to remain functional, competitive and successful.

A key component within IT planning involves identifying areas where improvement is needed when it comes down protecting company data and assets against external threats like cybersecurity attacks, where hackers attempt to gain access  to encrypted files containing sensitive private information. Hackers often use malware specifically designed to carry out their objectives, among other tricks of the trade. Red teaming assessments can shore up your organisation’s defence against such attacks by shedding light on the current vulnerabilities and risks, while complementing other forms of security testing such as penetration testing, vulnerability assessment and code review. As an organisation grows and its security levels mature, red teaming exercises should be incorporated into its security testing assessment.

What is Red Teaming?

Red teaming aims to train and measure the effectiveness of an organisation’s people, process, and technology in detecting and defending the organisation. It is a sophisticated, multi-layered attack simulation that is designed to measure how well an organisation’s security controls, networks, and applications and even employees can withstand cybersecurity attacks. A cybersecurity consultancy will carry out real-life hacking exercises to do a full scope assessment of the organisation’s vulnerabilities and risks.

Red teaming is also referred to as objective based penetration testing and requires a holistic overview of the organisation. Red teaming utilises several types of testing and processes to accomplish their objectives. It always starts with defining the scope and goals and the type of attack methods to be carried out. The different stages involved include: information gathering, planning and mapping the attack, execution of the attack, and documentation and reporting.

The ultimate goal of red teaming is to identify security gaps in people, process and technology and build stronger resistance against cyber attacks.

Red Teaming vs Penetration Testing

We’ve often heard the terms red teaming and penetration testing used interchangeably. However, both of these forms of security testing have their own distinctions.

Penetration testing is a way for cybersecurity professionals to assess an organisation’s vulnerabilities in order to find ways of cyber attack. This type of security evaluation combines the automated and manual approach that can identify both application layer flaws as well as network/system level vulnerabilities that may lead to compromised barriers. While automated vulnerability assessment tools are able to identify some cybersecurity issues, a combination of tools and manual testing also dynamically considers the organisation’s vulnerability to attack. Penetration testing is a must for many industries now.

Red teaming mimics cyber attacks and tries to gain access to the company’s crown jewel as quickly as possible without being detected. Penetration testing is focused on finding as many vulnerabilities and risks as possible to identify security gaps for a system. The security gaps are then exploited and the risks that arise from vulnerabilities are evaluated.

While penetration testing looks for the number of vulnerabilities a system has, red teaming delves into the mind of a hacker to think creatively and out of the box to achieve their objectives either by exploiting the system vulnerabilities or by abusing the flaws in the organisation’s processes and people.

Both red teaming and penetration testing have their own merits and are best deployed to accomplish specific goals in relation to an organisation’s security. Penetration testing is more appropriate during the early security phases of an organisation, while red teaming helps build a more mature security policy and security hardening measures. They also serve well as complementary assessments in a larger security boost plan.

Reliable Red Teaming Partner

Achieve your organisation’s cybersecurity goals by partnering with a trustworthy consultancy like softScheck to carry out a red teaming assessment. As a CREST-certified cybersecurity firm, we have worked with various public and private organisations over the years to assess their ability to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber attacks and discover vulnerabilities that may not be identified through other forms of security testing. Our team of security professionals conduct red teaming exercises by testing our clients’ cybersecurity defences against real-life attacks.

From our client case studies, such as Singtel’s Zero-Day Cyberattack, we better understand how to protect your organisation against cyber attacks. For example, zero-day vulnerabilities are security flaws that have just been discovered in which a security patch does not exist yet. Singtel had encountered a cyber attack which stemmed from security bugs in a third-party software that was used for the transfer of large files during business operations. Through this, we have worked out the best practices to prevent such attacks, like implementing security protocols, manual log review for proactive malicious activity detection, and conducting constant attack simulation exercises.


softScheck has a deep expertise in offensive security and we understand that it is imperative to have a strong first line of defence against cyber attacks. Get in touch with us to know how we can help with your organisation’s security assessment, project planning and execution.