How does red teaming test the ultimate limits of cyber security?

Hacking can be a dirty word. It evokes images of a person sitting in the dark with a black hoodie on, hunched over a keyboard, in front of multiple screens, attacking an innocent business, or individuals, online. It automatically generates thoughts of terrible ransomware attacks and cyber criminal gangs with names such as Evil Corp.

But cyber criminals have a foe – ethical hackers. We hack companies to show them their weaknesses so they can fix them before they are breached.

Companies are aware that cyber attacks are increasing by 50% year on year. With organisational spending on cyber security at an all-time high, firms are spending significant amounts on their security infrastructure. I’m often asked: How can we know that our cyber security is working effectively?

My advice to companies is simple – invest in a red teaming test.

Red teaming is the practice of simulating a multi-layered cyber attack that tests the effectiveness of every aspect of an organisation’s security. Rather than running the risk of financial and reputational damage after being hit by a ransomware attack, hire ethical hackers to simulate an attack to unearth vulnerabilities, so that they can be addressed before it’s too late.

“The only real way you can determine the effectiveness of your security is by getting hacked. Red teaming tests employ both virtual and physical methods to probe for weakness, exactly as a cyber criminal would”
Rob Shapland, Falanx Cyber

Cyber attacks – like when Revolut was breached in September 2022, revealing 50,000 customers’ sensitive data – may have been prevented with a red teaming test that would have pinpointed the threat social engineering posed to the team.

For a company to be put through its paces, it needs to be tested through active and proactive attacks of both its virtual and physical systems, using the same tactics, techniques and procedures as cyber criminal groups are using right now. My team typically carries out a red teaming mission in five steps:

  1. We always begin with open source intelligence gathering (OSINT). As with the first stage of any operation, we begin an attack by investigating a company and its employees,…