Wed, Jun 5, 2024

An Introduction To Purple Teaming

With cyber threats constantly evolving, organizations must ensure that their approach to identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities is always up to date. Purple teaming can play a vital role in helping them to achieve this. Purple teaming involves red and blue teams collaborating on an ongoing basis to maximize their impact. Read on to discover how purple teaming enables businesses to enhance and accelerate their approach to identifying and mitigating security vulnerabilities.

What is Purple Teaming?

Purple teaming is a type of security methodology that brings together offensive security professionals (red teams) and security operations center (SOC) professionals (blue teams) to strengthen and improve an organization’s security posture. Despite the name, purple teaming usually refers to a function or organizational mindset rather than a dedicated team.

Purple teaming can lead to significant steps forward in an organization’s security strategy by accurately simulating common threat scenarios and developing techniques designed to prevent and detect new types of threats. By doing so, it improves the effectiveness of vulnerability detection, threat hunting and network monitoring.

Purple teaming is commonly undertaken virtually and on an ongoing basis, though in some organizations, it is performed as a series of ad hoc, focused engagements. Incorporating security goals, timelines and key deliverables, this usually includes a formal approach to evaluating key learnings through the operation.

The Components of Purple Teaming: Red vs. Blue

Red Team vs. Blue Team

Ideally, all organizations benefit from the specialist insight of both red and blue teams. Each team has its own distinct roles and responsibilities:

Red Team - A red team is made up of offensive security professionals who have the role of applying real-life adversarial techniques to enable organizations to find and address vulnerabilities in their infrastructure, systems and applications, alongside identifying weaknesses in processes and human behavior. Red team activities include:

These responsibilities help to identify security exposures by challenging blue teams and assessing detection techniques and processes.

The insights gained from red team assessments can be leveraged to review defenses against the latest cybercriminal tools, tactics and procedures, with the feedback used to advance threat hunting and incident response. Threat intelligence is central to this process.

Blue Team - A blue team is usually based within a Security Operations Centre (SOC) and is made up of groups of analysts and engineers. The blue team’s role is to manage and monitor a range of detection technologies, using the latest intelligence to hunt for and eliminate threats around-the-clock. The blue team safeguards organizations against cyberattacks by undertaking tasks that involve threat prevention, detection and response.

As with other types of assessments, the cadence of purple teaming should be defined by the specific needs and priorities of each organization. Some organizations may benefit from an annual purple teaming engagement, while others may require a continuous cadence to be built into their security processes. Whatever the specific cadence, it is important for organizations to make purple teaming a key element of their security strategy to ensure their cyber defenses remain robust in the light of constantly evolving cyber threats.

Purple Team Activities

Types of purple teaming activities include:

  • Undertaking social engineering attacks and seeking to gain access to sensitive data
  • Facilitating and organizing cross-training sessions
  • Analyzing the root causes of simulated breaches
  • Running, observing and supporting attack scenario workshops
  • Launching cyber malware and bug attacks against critical systems
  • Attempting to exploit vulnerabilities in systems and applications
  • Completing penetration testing of systems and networks
  • Undertaking security audits of systems and networks
  • Developing and implementing a comprehensive security plan
  • Performing regular vulnerability scans
  • Identifying and patching security vulnerabilities
  • Encrypting data of different types
  • Managing access to sensitive data and systems



  • Monitoring network traffic for suspicious activity
  • Deploying intrusion detection/prevention systems
  • Adversary profiling through researching and profiling potential threat actors
  • Risk assessment and prioritization based on potential impact and exploitability
  • Reviewing security policies and procedures to ensure policy alignment and gap analysis
  • Continuous feedback through regular updates meetings and collaborative planning
  • Simulated incident response to oversee incident scenarios and facilitate post-exercise discussions
  • Customized incident response tabletop exercises to test all aspects of an organization’s response plan and mature their security program
  • Tailored incident recovery and mitigation workshops to deliver actionable insights and support more effective security planning

Bridging the Security Gap: The Role of Purple Teaming

In many organizations, red and blue teams still work as totally separate entities. This lack of communication often creates additional security risks due to issues having no clear ownership. In purple teaming, red and blue teams maintain their specific roles but also work proactively together to help organizations deliver a more impactful detection and response capability. By doing so, they counteract the risks of security team silos.

Purple teaming enables the sharing of intelligence data to support better insight into threat actors’ tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs). By imitating TTPs through a range of red team scenarios, the blue team can enhance its detection and response capability. This is a significant step forward from the blue team’s prior lack of visibility of security compromises due to threat actors’ techniques being undetected.

Red Team
Blue Team
Purple Team

Offensive security professionals

Security Operations Center experts

Red and blue team working cooperatively


Simulate real-world cyberattack conditions to test cybersecurity defenses

Assess and respond to red team attack tactics, techniques and procedures

Collaborate and provide continuous feedback and knowledge transfer


Identify security gaps and vulnerabilities

Detect, hunt, respond to and remediate threats

Strengthen security posture through continuous improvement

The Purple Teaming Process

The purple teaming process should be adapted to an organization’s unique risk exposure and constantly evolve in response to the insight gained through each exercise. While the order of activities will vary according to specific activities, the process is likely to run along the following lines:

  • Plan
    The stage at which the red and blue teams work together in order to fully define and scope the goals of the engagement. This will ensure that potential issues or challenges are identified early on and ensure that detection and prevention mechanisms are effectively evaluated. The planning stage should also include establishing the types of data collection methods and mechanisms to be used to ensure high-quality analysis.
  • Assess
    Understanding the nature and scope of the activities involved in each engagement is a vital part of purple teaming. Teams should also ensure that they continuously evaluate how they are performing.
  • Collaborate
    Working cooperatively is key to ensuring the success of the purple teaming process. This is achieved by establishing effective processes from the start and ensuring that both teams stay regularly updated about each other’s activities.
  • Remediate
    Once problems and vulnerabilities are uncovered, it is critical that the relevant steps to remediate them are taken as soon as possible.
  • Report
    Purple teaming results in reports informed by offensive and defensive activities, providing more comprehensive insight into an organization’s environment. Because purple teaming is an iterative approach, reporting in this context is too.

Purple Teaming Benefits

The security advantages of purple teaming include:

Better Understanding of Security Vulnerabilities

Purple teaming plays a key role in helping organizations to become better informed about their security posture by giving internal security teams a more accurate review of their risk exposure, helping to identify potential areas that require further attention and speeding up the process of detection and mitigation.

More In-Depth Security Knowledge

Through purple teaming, organizations can benefit from more effective identification, sharing and use of security knowledge.

This is because blue teams gain a broader insight into the way in which attackers operate by gaining the capacity to both observe and participate in attacks through their exposure to red teams.

They can then more easily and effectively apply technologies in order to deceive actual attackers and study their TTPs.


Greater Return on Investment

Because purple team exercises combine defense and offense, they enable organizations to improve the efficiency of security monitoring. This helps companies to achieve the best value from their security budgets at a time when cyber threats continue to diversify.

Continuous Security Improvements

By using purple teaming as a conceptual framework to support their overall security approach, organizations can nurture a culture of continuous cybersecurity improvement.

Enhanced Culture of Innovation

With red and blue teams working successfully together, organizations are more likely to benefit from a culture of innovation, with a more in-depth understanding of risk exposure and attacker tradecraft encouraging teams to be creative in their approach to cyber defense.

The Challenges of Purple Teaming

Managed effectively, purple teaming has the potential to significantly advance an organization’s security defenses. However, given the complexities of combining the skills and working practices of two specialist teams, some challenges are likely. These include:

  • Obstacles Around Collaboration
    Ensuring effective communication between two different teams and maintaining this on a consistent basis can be complex. Organizations often struggle with establishing clear parameters around team hierarchies, goal setting and assessment timelines.
  • Pressure on Resources
    With so many competing priorities, particularly for security teams that are often understaffed, it can be challenging for blue and red teams to build unfamiliar lines of communication and fully embrace the purple team mentality.
  • Shifting the Culture
    Purple teaming is still a relatively new concept in security. This means that organizations seeking to implement it may find resistance from the very people meant to be leading the change. Personnel in either the blue or the red team may also feel threatened by the prospect of sharing insights and working processes, a process that can on the face of it seem counterintuitive for seasoned industry veterans.
  • Project Management Issues
    Purple teaming presents all the challenges you might expect from bringing two discrete teams together. From a lack of clarity on ownership of specific aspects to confusion over who is responsible for troubleshooting, without effective project management, purple teaming can create complex issues for organizations.
  • Lack of Relevant Skills
    While purple teaming brings together highly skilled individuals, this does not necessarily mean that all the right skills will then be in place. There may well be a requirement for additional training and skills development to ensure that all areas of expertise are covered.
  • Performance Analysis Challenges
    Again, purple teaming is not simply about bringing two different teams together and trusting that they will then automatically achieve the results required. Clear goals, metrics and KPIs need to be established in order to quantify the required outcomes, and reinforce the perception of its value.
    Organizations can gain the benefits of purple teaming while avoiding the pitfalls by working with a security provider capable of integrating this service into their other security offerings. A good security provider will undertake purple teaming as standard practice and should be able to outline specific approaches and use cases.

Leverage the Power of Purple Teaming with Kroll

Introduction To Purple Teaming

At Kroll, we utilize our deep knowledge of offensive security alongside the latest security tools and intelligence to help organizations to identify, hunt for and eliminate threats and vulnerabilities across their networks and endpoints. Our industry-leading purple team methodology is central to this.

Our threat intelligence team provides actionable insights to help our red and blue team consultants, analysts and engineers to continually improve the quality and effectiveness of our services by deploying new controls, detection rules and policies.

Whether you are looking to assess your organization’s defenses, strengthen them with a turnkey MDR service, or comprehensively respond to a cyber incident, you can be confident that Kroll will provide the deep insight and expert advice you need to significantly advance your cybersecurity posture.

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