With the increasing landscape of bad actors and hackers, the response from cybersecurity and policies should advance as well. With the assistance of penetration tests like Purple Team testing, larger businesses will be able to protect their assets, employees, and customers better than ever. Purple Team tests are one of the most intense and lengthy tests that a company can perform, but it is also one of the most telling of vulnerabilities and threats that can affect them.

Purple Team tests aren’t cheap, considering there are multiple cybersecurity analysts and IT operatives are needed for it. Not only that, but they can last from a week up to a month of time. Usually, this test is for much bigger businesses, but it can be done for any company that wants to get it. There are many steps when it comes to a Purple Team test and it usually does well for government compliance and examiners.

What is a Purple Team test?

A Purple Team test is a penetration test that uses both a blue team and red team combine their forces to give the deepest understanding of a company’s network security. It is a series of simulated attacks that take real-world methods into account. Penetration tests are important pieces of any cybersecurity program. These are usually necessary due to government regulation, but the extent of these tests is dependent on how big the company is.

The blue team represents the security aspect of a company’s network, which can be an IT team, a Managed Service Provider (MSP), or an outsourced Security Operations Center (SOC). They will watch for the attack and then implement responses and verify defenses against the attack that is happening against the business’s networks.

The red team is the opposite of the blue team, which is the cybersecurity analysts who are doing the attack. The simulation can last for weeks while they use common tactics like phishing, vishing, and various other social engineering to get information. With this information, they can then attempt to penetrate the network, but most of this is in full knowledge of the blue team. They can respond and hopefully defend against these attacks. The red team test can also be done separately from a purple team test if need be.

This mixture and collaboration are where the penetration test gets its name. The blue team and the red team make a purple team. Blue and red make purple, after all. The Purple Team test brings out everything in the company’s cybersecurity and is one of the best ways to get all the information to give you solid protection from threats and vulnerabilities.

What happens during a Purple Team test?

Because of a Purple Team test being a penetration test, it follows along the same route as other pen tests, including information gathering, the penetration attempts, and the reports that come from it. However, since these tests include a blue team, there are additional steps that must be taken. Because it is so expansive, there are also additional tests that are usually included based on the company’s size.

Each team has its own responsibilities and tools they use in the Purple Team test. Because of this, they have their own steps in the process as well.

Red Team

As said above, the red team is the attacking entity in these tests. They are usually composed of security analysts from the hired cybersecurity firm. From the attacking point of view, they will use all methods of a real-world attack in an attempt to get into the system.

Information Gathering

Like in most penetration testing, a red team will use reconnaissance to get information from an organization. This includes scouring the internet for publicly-available information from places like Google, LinkedIn, and even company websites. They will also use social engineering methods like phishing, vishing, and smishing to get people to click dangerous links. With this information in hand, they will go to the next step.

Scanning and Exploiting

Going through a vulnerability scan and other hacking tools, the red team will then attempt to find these weaknesses in the network’s system. After they’re found, they will go further and exploit these weaknesses and holes in order to get into the system. Of course, this sounds a bit scary, but it is all controlled and shouldn’t disrupt a business like a real bad actor would. The exploitation is usually in secret anyway, but the blue team may be able to recognize and stop the attempts—that’s what the test is for, after all.


During this entire attack, the security analysts will be documenting everything that was done. These are detailed steps for the date, time, actions, and tools that were used during the test. All of the results will be put on these reports as well. Most of them will be made during the scanning and exploiting portion, but responses from the blue team will also be included. Depending on the cybersecurity firm, these reports should be very detailed.

Blue Team

On the opposite side of red team, the blue team represents the people defending against the red team’s attack. They will be looking out for any sort of attacks or using tools to make sure that these attacks can’t get through. One of the biggest things that they should be looking for is if these attacks are caught or recognized.

Tabletop Testing

One of the best starting points for any blue team is a tabletop test. This test is more of an activity for the people who take care of IT and cybersecurity. After setting aside a time, the team should come together for a large meeting and going over policies and procedures in the event of any disaster. This includes cybersecurity attacks and even natural disasters. Going over these response plans can mitigate any sort of emergency or loss, possibly preventing a shutdown of the business.


One of the biggest things that a blue team can do is to implement controls and authentication factors. Monitoring these controls are what would prevent most attacks from red teams or bad actors. These controls can include firewalls, whitelists and blacklists, authentication logs, antivirus programs, and various other checks.


While monitoring and putting in controls is a big part of these defenses, analyzing and researching threats and potential vulnerabilities is also necessary. Reviewing authorization logs, access logs, and other various control information, a bad actor can be found quickly if they have gotten through initial defenses. Manual review can be very helpful in the long run. This, along with scans and detection, will usually catch if a bad actor slipped through.


Performing vulnerability scans is a necessary step for security. With these scans, blue teams can make sure that every hole that might be in their cybersecurity fence is patched up. These are relatively easy to perform, but some cybersecurity firms send equipment to do it for you. Either way, these scans should be done often regardless, considering updates and vulnerabilities can pop up every day. Doing them often will keep a system safe.


The biggest ways you can see the strength of your blue team are to actively participate in the red team’s attack. If there is a red team attack happening, the blue team may involve themselves in defending against it. This can be done with shutting off servers, locking down computers, and even disconnecting from the internet. Of course, if the bad actors are already in the computers, it may already be too late, depending on how the network’s structure is. However, finding an attack while its happening can lessen the damage.

Purple Team

The Purple Team test needs both red team and blue team to come together afterward. With the two teams having worked together, they will confer and go over the activities that happened. There will be plenty of reports to review, but it is important that these in-depth lists are reviewed to make sure that everything is taken care of. During this phase of the test, the two teams will examine things like improvements to the network in specific areas, gap analysis, and input cooperative security measures.

After the test is done, the cybersecurity firm will likely give the business time to fix or patch any findings that they may have found. Afterward, a retest should be preformed to make sure all of the vulnerabilities are actually fixed, making the network secure and safe from outside attacks and bad actors. It is an extensive process, but when you’re dealing with people and their well-being, it is important to do what you can to protect them.

Will a Purple Team Test disrupt business?

While it is an intensive and detailed test, a purple team test will likely not disrupt any business or any transactions happening with customers or clients. There are no DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks, which can be disruptive for a business. A cybersecurity firm should always work behind the scenes and make as little of a footprint as possible. Being able to get into a network can be bad, though.

If a security analyst gets into a network, it might be important to halt a server or a network in order to fix it. These are usually rare, but a crucial vulnerability can be exploited rather easily, so it’s important to close that door as soon as possible. Other than this unlikely event, there should be no disruption at all. These tests can last for weeks, though, and may take a lot of attention from the IT team or whoever is in charge of the cybersecurity for the business.


The Purple Team test is an important, in-depth penetration test that many larger businesses should consider getting once a year. There are many types of penetration tests, but the Purple Team combines many of them. The blue team and red team come together in the purpose of improving cybersecurity. These tests are relatively expensive compared to other penetration tests, considering how much effort goes into them. They last for multiple hours at a time over a period of days, weeks, and can even last a month. Scheduling efforts, supplying security analysts, and the multiple tools and certifications necessary for it makes this test one of the biggest ones a business can get.

While not necessarily required by the federal government, a purple team tests will cover most, if not all of government regulations. It is a catch-all method that will give you every vulnerability or threat that dangers your network. Either way a business goes at it, government regulations require businesses to perform certain amounts of penetration testing done to their network. A Purple Team test simply does it all.

Even though it is intensive, there should be no disruption to the business. Security analysts will be behind the scenes in their attempt to get into a network, but that’s about as far as it goes. They shouldn’t be able to get in, but even if they do, business will continue operating as normal. Either way, it is important to get a penetration test, whether it’s a huge one like a Purple Team test, or a simple one like an internal or external penetration test. Cybersecurity will always be important to a business!

Eddy Berry, Security Research Analyst

Eddy has been researching cybersecurity for a few years now. Finding specific trends and best practices is something he takes pride in, assisting in finding news and government regulation that are on the rise. He researches topics and writes articles based on current events and important vulnerabilities that are affecting people, always hoping to get the necessary cybersecurity steps to those that need them.