A red team scenario is a simulated attack conducted by a team of security professionals to identify vulnerabilities and test an organization's security defenses. In this article, we will explore a hypothetical red team scenario and discuss the various steps involved in conducting such an exercise.

Scenario overview

The fictional company, XYZ Corporation, has engaged a red team to test its security defenses. The red team's objective is to simulate an attack on the company's network and systems, identify any weaknesses, and provide recommendations for improving the organization's security posture. The red team consists of experienced security professionals, including ethical hackers, penetration testers, and social engineers.

Step 1: reconnaissance

The first step in a red team scenario is reconnaissance. The red team begins by gathering information about the target organization, including its infrastructure, systems, and employees. In this scenario, the red team uses open-source intelligence (OSINT) to gather information about XYZ Corporation. They search the internet for information on the company's employees, partners, vendors, and customers. They also search for any publicly available information about the company's systems and networks.

The red team uses this information to build a profile of the target organization and identify potential vulnerabilities. They also use this information to craft social engineering attacks that can be used to trick employees into divulging sensitive information or granting access to systems.

Step 2: initial access

The next step in the red team scenario is to gain initial access to the target organization's systems. In this scenario, the red team uses a phishing email to trick an employee into clicking on a malicious link. The link installs a backdoor on the employee's computer, providing the red team with access to the organization's network.

Once the red team has gained initial access, they use various techniques to escalate their privileges and move laterally through the organization's systems. They use password-cracking tools to obtain credentials, exploit vulnerabilities in software and hardware, and use social engineering tactics to gain access to sensitive information.

Step 3: persistence

The third step in the red team scenario is persistence. Once the red team has gained access to the organization's systems, they take steps to maintain their access and evade detection. This involves setting up command-and-control servers, creating backdoors, and using rootkits and other techniques to hide their presence.

The red team also monitors the organization's systems and network traffic, looking for signs of detection or investigation. They take steps to avoid detection, such as using encryption and obfuscation techniques to hide their activities.

Step 4: data exfiltration

The final step in the red team scenario is data exfiltration. The red team's objective is to steal sensitive data from the organization's systems and exfiltrate it without being detected. In this scenario, the red team uses various techniques to exfiltrate data, including transferring files to external servers, using steganography to hide data within images, and using covert channels to transmit data.

The red team takes steps to avoid detection, such as encrypting data before exfiltration and using timing and frequency techniques to avoid triggering network-based detection systems.

Post-scenario analysis

After completing the red team scenario, the organization's security team conducts a post-scenario analysis. This involves reviewing the red team's findings and recommendations and developing a plan to address any vulnerabilities that were identified.

The post-scenario analysis includes a debriefing with the red team to discuss their tactics and techniques and to provide feedback on the organization's defenses. The organization's security team uses this information to improve its security posture and to develop a more robust security strategy.


A red team scenario is a valuable tool for testing an organization's security defenses and identifying vulnerabilities. By simulating an attack, the red team can identify weaknesses that may not have been apparent through traditional security assessments