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Purple Teaming: Validating Cybersecurity Investments and Enhancing Efficiency

Purple Teaming: Validating Cybersecurity Investments and Enhancing Efficiency on Purple background.


In this era dominated by cyber threats, offensive security strategies such as penetration testing and Red Teaming have become crucial. These methodologies provide invaluable insights that enhance an organization's security posture, even though their nuances may not be fully understood by all enterprise organizations. While these methodologies have been instrumental in probing the defenses of networks, there's another approach that's beckoning the attention of seasoned professionals – Purple Teaming.

The crux of the matter isn’t just about pitting offense against defense; it's about harmonizing them. How does Purple Teaming manage this delicate balance, and why should it be at the forefront of mature cybersecurity strategies?

In this blog, we explore how Purple Teaming can accomplish the following:

  • Establish measurable security baselines and resilience across companies and supply chains
  • Validate the efficacy of security investments and identify potential areas for greater efficiency
  • Provide a blueprint for organizational advancement and agility via penetration tests and Red Teams
  • Support evidence-based ROI communication to leadership and stakeholders
  • Deliver demonstrable and continuous protection against headline-grabbing and investor-rattling, emerging threats

Beyond The Traditional: Merging Attack and Defense

As cybersecurity professionals, we're trained to scrutinize, test, and often view our IT landscapes through either an offensive or defensive lens. However, both these invaluable strategies often operate in silos, leading to insights that might lack the holistic context that a combined approach could provide.

Purple Teaming emerges as the answer. It's the symbiotic merger of Red Team offense with Blue Team defense, aimed at providing a comprehensive perspective of an organization's cybersecurity posture. It moves past isolated identification of vulnerabilities to crafting, testing, and refining mitigation strategies in real time with a shared goal of improving detection, response, and resilience.

The Purple Paradigm: Synergy in Action

Penetration tests and Red Team exercises, while indispensable, have inherent limitations. They operate within set parameters and might not always consider the broader nuances of an organization's infrastructure.

Purple Team exercises, however, elevate this approach. Picture this: the Red Team crafts a real-world attack scenario, and as they execute, the Blue Team is actively responding, adapting, and strategizing defenses. Every step, every countermeasure, and every tactical shift is documented. This not only provides a roadmap for resilience but also fosters a culture of shared knowledge and iterative learning.

A successful Purple Team exercise may consist of the following:

  1. The Red Team runs a port scan of a network segment from a company Linux server that is "assumed to be compromised."
  2. The Blue Team realizes they can't detect port scans and analyzes network traffic to identify patterns of activity that indicate a port scan is taking place.
  3. The Blue Team configures their IDS/IPS to shut down hosts from which those patterns are originating.
  4. The Red Team runs a port scan again and sees if they are blocked by the new defensive controls.
  5. The initial test results, changes, and results of improvement are all recorded and documented.

This iterative approach ensures that cybersecurity strategies are not stagnant but dynamic, constantly evolving to preempt and counter emerging threats.

Creating Actionable ROI Through Purple Teaming

For a seasoned cybersecurity professional, the value of defense isn't just in the numbers but in the strategic advantage it affords to communicate with stakeholders. Purple Teaming empowers security professionals to showcase tangible results to leaders throughout an organization.

Here are just a few examples of measurable benchmarks that can result from continuous Purple Team exercises:

  • Percentage of MITRE ATT&CK TTPs detected/blocked
  • Average intruder detection rate over time
  • Efficacy of detecting data exfiltration
  • Number of data encryption methods used by ransomware groups tested and stopped

Security teams can leverage these types of metrics to strengthen transparency, secure funding, and encourage buy-in from leadership. This evidence-based approach bolsters internal support and facilitates communication with stakeholders up to the C-suite, enabling informed decision-making and support for essential security initiatives.

In a bold move, VPN company Mullvad publicly revealed the results of a comprehensive infrastructure audit – essentially the results of a penetration test. This is a company renowned for its commitment to confidentiality. So why expose weaknesses? Because transparency and continuous improvement foster trust. When technical teams communicate openly with leadership, they pave the way for companies to value cybersecurity as a competitive advantage. It's an opportunity that many more organizations can embrace.


In the dynamic theater of cybersecurity, the challenges are ever evolving. As professionals at the vanguard of defense, it's imperative to leverage strategies that not only identify threats but also provide the holistic context and collaboration required for robust mitigation. Purple Teaming offers this integrated approach, heralding a new era of collaborative, transparent, and adaptive cybersecurity. For those dedicated to safeguarding digital frontiers, purple isn't just a color. It's the future.

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