Cyber security is growing ever more important with 66% of businesses experiencing a cyber attack each year. In addition, the projected annual cost of attacks is expected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. Organizations of all sizes need effective network security solutions implemented by qualified professionals to protect against cyber crime. If you’re interested in a career in cyber security, you’ll need to understand defensive (blue team) tactics.
Understanding the Basic Concepts of Network Security
The specific tactics used in network security are constantly evolving as new threats emerge. This is one of the reasons why many people are drawn to cyber security careers. However, many of the core principles and concepts remain the same:
- Education: People are the weakest point in almost every computer system’s security. Understanding common threats and teaching people about them will help strengthen your network.
- Policy Setting: While educating people about risks can help to reduce them, it’s also valuable to enforce certain behaviors. For example, you can set policies regarding password strength. Similarly, you can create policies about which devices can and can’t connect to a network. Your policies should cover software and hardware updates to minimize the risk of known vulnerabilities.
- Compartmentalization: By physically and logically separating network components, using compartmentalization, then controlling access with carefully planned permissions, you can help to ensure that a minor network breach doesn’t turn into a catastrophe.
- Encryption: Encryption prevents your data from being easily read by any unauthorized party. Using encryption to protect data traveling through the network is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Other high-priority data such as sensitive customer information should be encrypted as well.
- Planning, Testing and Improvement: To achieve optimal results in any cyber security setting, you need a plan for defending your systems. You should test that plan and improve it based on the results. This continuous cycle will help ensure you’re one step ahead of any potential attackers.
The Blue Team in Pentesting
The above strategies may be applied by the “blue team” in a penetration test. This is the group of cyber security professionals trying to prevent, detect, and respond to attacks by the offensive (red) team. Depending on the parameters of the test, the blue team may respond exactly as they would to an unauthorized cyber attack and may not even know the simulated attack is happening.
Blue team tactics and network security should be ongoing processes for all organizations. There are new threats every day, and cyber security teams need to be constantly improving their strategies.
Active and Passive Attacks
Attacks on networks can be active or passive. These can be equally severe, so cyber security professionals must implement solutions for both. Active attacks occur when a hacker intercepts and modifies data being passed through a network. These are often highly targeted, aggressive, and easier to detect but may have more immediate consequences.
Passive attacks tend to monitor activity on a network. They involve the hacker intercepting and reading data being passed through the network. In doing so, the hacker can gather data which may be helpful in supporting an active attack against specific network targets. Passive attacks tend to be harder to detect and can have impacts long after they have occurred.
Why Red Team Tactics Are Essential to Blue Team Success
Although red team and blue team tactics are often discussed as being separate, they are two sides of a continuum of cyber security knowledge. You cannot hope to implement effective network security without understanding the offensive tactics which may be used to breach a network. Similarly, ethical hackers cannot effectively test a system’s security if they do not understand how the security works. An effective cyber security education should explore both types of tactics and how they influence each other.
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