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Red Team Penetration Testing

Learn about what red team penetration testing services are, what a red teaming exercise involves and what the benefits of red team penetration testing are. 

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DigitalXRAID discussing the Difference Between Red Team Security Testing and Penetration Testing

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Cyber threats continue to increase, with organisations now facing a myriad of nation state attacks and various prolific ransomware groups, as well as the usual run of the mill cyber criminals.

Given this rising threat, businesses must ensure that they have suitable security protection in place to stop successful breaches of their systems, applications, cloud environments and networks.

However, it’s not just external threats that companies need to be aware of and mitigate against. Cybersecurity threats can also come from within the organisation.

In order to remain secure on all fronts, businesses must regularly assess their data and security strategies and processes. The best way to achieve this is to run red team penetration testing assessments a few times per year.

Red team penetration testing with DigitalXRAID

What is red team penetration testing?

Red team penetration testing – also known as a red team assessment – is a full security review of a company’s security programs, systems and network infrastructure. As well as a test of the effectiveness of internal cyber security awareness training.  

The aim of the red team pen tests are to mimic real world hacking techniques to assess all security angles and gain a better understanding of the current risk of a breach.  

A team of ethical hackers – also known as red teams – perform the red team testing to try to breach any vulnerable points across the customer’s attack surface. Red team pen testing can also be used to test the effectiveness of your blue team – or your defensive security response.  

A red team penetration test is normally tasked with achieving specific aims, such as gaining access to sensitive information within a company’s systems or data held within applications or cloud environments.  

Red team penetration testing has some common purposes such as: 

  • Detecting vulnerabilities  
  • Testing software and systems  
  • Identifying potential threats to the business  
  • Looking for errors across people, process and technology areas 
  • Safeguarding against all threats found  
  • Demonstrating security commitment to stakeholders  
  • Meeting compliance requirements for standards such as PCI DSS and ISO 27001 


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Specific aims of red team pen testing
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What is a Red Team?

A red team is a group that plays the role of an enemy or competitor to provide security feedback

What is a Blue Team?

A blue team defends against cyberattacks and responds to security incidents when they occur

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What is a Tiger Team?

A tiger team seeks to penetrate an environment for the purposes of improving security and closing security loopholes

How Does Red Teaming Work?

A full red team penetration testing service can detect a range of potential threats, using in-depth evaluation and scoping to identify gaps and finding vulnerabilities in an organisation’s defences:  

  • Unprotected data and poor access credentials handling  
  • Lack of network segregation 
  • Lack of patching or unsupported software  
  • Limited network monitoring  
  • Phishing attack vulnerability 
  • Vulnerable servers 

Red team penetration tests collate sophisticated threat intelligence from across the entire organisation. By using these methods alongside social engineering tactics to harvest account credentials or gain access to systems, an organisation will have a clear view of their risks and how to mitigate them.  

Red team pen testing can include internal and external infrastructure and web application penetration testing. Red team penetration testing can be confused with singular penetration testing services. However, full red team engagements are much more advanced than penetration testing alone.  

By bringing together a comprehensive range of penetration testing services, businesses achieve a holistic view of any security vulnerabilities – both inside and outside of the organisation. 

Discuss your cyber security options

Get in touch today to speak to an expert and secure your business, or call us on 0800 090 3734

The outcome of the red team pen testing should be that the organisation in question has a much better understanding of how it should detect and respond to cyberattacks. 

The red team testing output can be mapped against frameworks such as MITRE ATT&CK. The MITRE ATT&CK framework is a global knowledge base of adversary tactics and techniques.

This mapping provides organisations with an understanding of how adversaries could attempt to use various compromises via a ‘Kill chain’ – a framework for attacker emulation- and provides a way to measure how well they are performing in detecting, analysing, and responding to threats across a multitude of attack scenarios. 

Red team penetration testing services

Red Team Assessment Objectives

At a high level, the objectives of the red team penetration testing attack simulation are for the ‘attacker’ to attempt to gain access or attack via methods such as:   

  1. Obtain Domain or Global Admin level permissions (access to existing account, or elevate permissions of granted account in grey box phase)  
  1. Exfiltrate data (any) including any login credentials – this could also be though social engineered means 
  1. Gain access to an endpoint or server – in the initial black box test phase 
  1. Move laterally within the network – access to restricted data or server areas in the grey box test phase 
  1. Simulated ransomware attack – possibly as a separate phase, primarily to test incident response times 

A red team penetration testing service might use various methods and phases, depending on the simulated attack’s aims.  

Red team testing by DigitalXRAID

Obtain publicly available information using various techniques. These include the enumeration of subdomains, usernames, and leaked passwords, GitHub repositories, miss configured cloud containers, and others.

This information can be used to establish an attack path. 

The external infrastructure information obtained via OSINT will be subject to port mapping and service enumeration, which can be used to identify common weaknesses and potentially exploitable avenues that will allow access into the network. 

If access is granted into the internal infrastructure further attacks could be performed which then aim to move across the network and escalate to a domain administrator. If a specific high-risk target is identified in the scope for data exfiltration, then a targeted attack could be made. 

All subdomains discovered will be inspected to identify potential exploit avenues, including remote access servers, VPN (Virtual Private Network) endpoints and will exclude applications such as brochureware. 

A vulnerability assessment should be conducted against the external and internal estate after the red team penetration testing exercise has been conducted to ensure that any security weaknesses are correctly documented

Phishing – A phishing test will be conducted to try and engineer employees into either clicking on a link and obtaining valid network credentials or downloading a document that contains a remote backdoor into the internal network.  

Vishing – A phone call will be made to specific employees to manipulate staff into performing a password reset for valid user accounts so that the penetration testing red team can obtain network credentials. 

USBs created specifically for the red team pen test are usually sent to an organisation’s office and placed in visible areas to understand the awareness of security risks and gain access from the internal network. 

Red team services should aim to identify any weak wireless encryption, outdated technologies, poor authentication and access control measures which can be bypassed to gain unauthorised access or breakout of a security zone.  

A device will be secretly placed by the penetration testing red team, to mimic the legitimate SSID AP and intercept authentication requests accessing the Wi-Fi network. This is a Man in the Middle attack and can enable credential harvesting.

The red team will do a walkaround investigation of the office building’s security features. Attempts will be made to access the building using social engineering techniques and connecting to the network.

Discuss your cyber security options

Get in touch today to speak to an expert and secure your business, or call us on 0800 090 3734

Offensive Security

Penetration of a network can cost a business over £2M
Can your business sustain such a significant spend in costs and fines?

Your stolen customer data may be sold on the dark web
Is your brand strong enough to withstand such reputation damage?

69% of customers said they would never return
Customers are far less likely to return to a breached organisation.

What is the Difference Between Red Team Security Testing and Penetration Testing?

Red team penetration testing is a much more thorough and in-depth exercise when compared with penetration testing services.  

Red teaming pen testing involves much more time than a pen test – maybe 3-4 weeks. This is because red team assessments are far more complex and considers multiple penetration testing areas and physical security.  

Red team penetration testing takes into account the organisation’s response capabilities and existing security measures, rather than simply looking for vulnerabilities.  

Where a penetration test is designed to find all vulnerabilities in relation to the area being tested, red team penetration testing will stop at the first vulnerability that allows them to achieve their access goal.

DigitalXRAID discussing the Difference Between Red Team Security Testing and Penetration Testing
DigitalXRAID's Benefits of Red Team Penetration testing

A red team pen test plays out over a longer time so that the red team can remain undetected during the simulated attack. 

While red team services do offer a deeper dive into cybersecurity postures, they don’t cover the breadth of vulnerabilities that a penetration test can.  

One of the main penetration testing vs red team differences is that red team penetration testing has a key objective to not be discovered during the attack. Internal IT and security teams must react as they would to a real-life cyberattack as part of the overall red team assessment.  

When deciding which service is right for your business, any organisation must consider where they are in their cyber security journey or roadmap. If penetration testing has never been conducted, this is the recommended place to start.  

Red team penetration testing should only be considered if security measures have been put in place and a specific end goal of the test has been identified. 

What are the Benefits of Red Team Penetration testing?

Red team penetration testing services can provide a clear understanding of how effective an organisation is in detecting, assessing and responding to real-life cyber incidents.  

A red team pen test can help to deliver internal improvements and map out the future security roadmap to an improved security posture, based on risk and potential impact.  

Any business looking to undertake red team penetration testing will gain an understanding of their current threat landscape, and the open attack vectors that face their organisation, based on a simulated attack that will deliver many outcomes. 

  • Understand how well the organisation withstands typical real-world attacks
  • Assess resilience against Advanced Persistent (APT) attacks/vulnerabilities
  • Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) gathering to support attack strategies
  • Provide insight as to how proactive monitoring and blue teams detect and manage an attack
  • Track responses and apply targeted training where needed
  • Design effective defensive policies and procedures
  • Turn a potentially uncontrolled weakness into a solid defensive layer
  • See the organisation as attackers would
  • Demonstrate internally and externally that attack vectors are understood


of tests identify critical vulnerabilities


of assessments found sensitive data begin transferred

4 days

is all it takes for a hacker to breach a network and gain access to data and systems

DigitalXRAID’s Red Team Penetration Testing Service

World class cybersecurity services shouldn’t be limited to large enterprises. With 25+ years’ experience in enterprise grade security solutions, DigitalXRAID’s red team penetration testing service has been designed to leverage state-of-the-art industry best practices, to deliver market leading security services for any business. 

The DigitalXRAID red team penetration testing department is made up of some of the highest qualified security professionals in the business. If there’s a vulnerability, our red team pen testers will find it.  

With DigitalXRAID’s red team penetration testing service, you can feel safe in the knowledge that your security has been tested from all angles.  

We’ll provide a full scope, multi-layered attack simulation to gain a complete understanding of how your internal incident response, your workforce, networks, applications and physical security controls respond to an attack. 

Our red team operations experts will conduct in-depth threat analysis across your entire business, allowing a thorough evaluation of any weaknesses or flaws in your network’s cyber security posture.  

If you’re interested in learning more about how our red team penetration testing services can protect your business, get in contact to scope your project today.

Managed Red Team Penetration Testing Service

No single test or report is ever going to be enough to secure an organisation against the complex cyber threat landscape. As your Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) we will construct a developed, bespoke and reactive plan to take care of your entire cyber security requirements now and into the future. 

  • Your trusted partners, we’ll deliver guidance, support and recommendations based on tangible evidence and genuine assessment of your business needs. 
  • We’ll continually test your networks, identify exploitable factors, and upgrade your facilities to meet your evolving needs. 
  • We’ll make sure your cyber protection remains robust, comprehensive and innovative. 

Find out more about our managed red team penetration testing service.

Talk to the Team

Our red team penetration services are conducted across 5 key phases

Protect your business with Red Team Penetration Testing

A security partner you can trust

Make sure you’re truly protected by putting your networks, systems and applications to the test. As with all cyber security, red team penetration testing forms part of a robust security posture. We’ll work with you to identify and remedy weaknesses in your security before a malicious party exploits them. 

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