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Understanding Red Team Roles

Melissa BoyleMelissa Boyle 21/03/2024

There are a wide range of offensive cyber security, or "red team", roles in our industry. In this blog post we'll introduce you to the following: Penetration Tester, Web Application Tester, Vulnerability Assessment Analyst, Exploit Developer, and Red Team Operator.

What is Offensive Cyber Security?

Offensive cybersecurity refers to the practice of using techniques and tools to actively attack computer systems and networks in order to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses. The goal of offensive cybersecurity is to proactively identify and address potential security threats before they can be exploited by malicious actors. This type of cybersecurity testing is often performed by ethical hackers or penetration testers who work for organizations to identify and address potential weaknesses in their systems. Offensive cybersecurity techniques can include social engineering, network scanning, vulnerability assessments, and penetration testing. While offensive cybersecurity can be an effective way to identify and address security vulnerabilities, it must be carried out ethically and with the appropriate legal permissions in place.


Red Team Roles Explained

Below we'll introduce some of the more common offensive cybersecurity roles!


Penetration Tester

A Penetration Tester is a role that is hired by organizations to simulate a cyberattack on their computer systems, networks, or web applications. The goal of penetration testing, also known as pen testing, is to identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers and to assess the security of the organization's overall infrastructure. Penetration Testers typically use a combination of automated tools and manual techniques to identify and exploit vulnerabilities, such as misconfigurations, weak passwords, or unpatched software. Once a vulnerability is found, the penetration tester reports it to the organization and helps them to address and fix the issue before it can be exploited by malicious attackers.


Web Application Tester

A Web Application Penetration Tester is a role that specializes in identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities in web applications. They are hired by organizations to simulate attacks on their web applications, such as e-commerce sites, online banking portals, and social media platforms, to identify potential security weaknesses. Web Application Penetration Testers use a combination of automated tools and manual techniques to identify vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and session hijacking. Once they have identified a vulnerability, they provide a detailed report to the organization's security team, which outlines the vulnerability and recommendations on how to fix it.


Exploit Developer

An Exploit Developer is a role that specializes in developing and creating exploits for security vulnerabilities found in various technologies. They use their extensive knowledge of how systems work to create programs or pieces of code that can exploit a vulnerability in order to gain unauthorized access or perform other malicious activities. Exploit developers are often employed by security firms or government agencies to identify vulnerabilities in software and systems, and to develop exploits to test the security of these systems. They work closely with penetration testers and other cybersecurity professionals to develop effective strategies for identifying and mitigating security risks.


Red Team Operator

A Red Team Operator is a role that is responsible for testing the security of an organization's systems and networks by simulating real-world attacks. The red team operator's goal is to identify vulnerabilities in the organization's defenses and to provide recommendations for improving the security posture. Red Team Operators work in collaboration with individuals working in defensive roles such as SOC Analysts or Incident Responders, who are responsible for defending the organization's systems and networks. The Red Team Operator uses tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) commonly used by attackers to infiltrate systems and networks. These tests may involve social engineering, phishing attacks, and other methods to gain access to sensitive information or systems. The ultimate goal is to help an organization improve its security by identifying weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers.

Melissa Boyle

Melissa Boyle

Melissa is CySec Careers' Marketing Manager and compiles our industry reports and career guides.