It is not uncommon for people outside the cybersecurity industry, such as HR professionals or recruiters on LinkedIn, to use terms like “pentester,” “red team,” and “purple team” interchangeably, without understanding the nuanced differences between these roles.
To clarify, a Pentester is a professional who focuses specifically on testing an organization’s IT infrastructure for vulnerabilities and weaknesses, using a variety of tools and techniques to simulate real-world attacks. Their primary goal is to find and exploit vulnerabilities before an attacker can, and they typically work as part of a larger security team.
A Red Team, on the other hand, is a group of cybersecurity professionals who simulate real-world cyber-attacks against an organization’s security infrastructure. Unlike a Pentester, a Red Team is focused on testing an organization’s defenses and response capabilities, rather than identifying specific vulnerabilities. This may involve attempting to breach the organization’s perimeter defenses, bypassing access controls, or stealing sensitive information.
A Blue Teamer is a professional who works on the defensive side of cybersecurity. They are responsible for detecting, preventing, and responding to cyber-attacks. They work closely with the Red Team to identify vulnerabilities and develop appropriate defenses and incident response plans. Without a strong Blue Team, an organization may be vulnerable to cyber threats, as they may not have the necessary resources and expertise to detect and respond to attacks in a timely and effective manner.
As for the term “Purple Team,” it refers to a collaborative approach to cybersecurity that involves both the Red and Blue Teams working together to improve an organization’s overall security posture. The Purple Team typically facilitates communication and collaboration between the two teams, helping to identify areas of weakness and develop effective mitigation strategies.
It’s worth noting that while some cybersecurity analysts may perform pentesting as part of their job, this alone does not make them a Purple Teamer. A true Purple Teamer is someone who focuses specifically on the collaborative aspects of cybersecurity, working to bridge the gap between the Red and Blue Teams and ensure that the organization’s security posture is as strong as possible.