What is Red Teaming?

An introduction to Red Teaming

There are at least three new, different, but related disciplines under development that all have their root in a new approach to critical thinking and contrarian analysis.

They are all concerned with thinking outside the normal institutional and mental structures that shape human thinking, working against the grain of groupthink and complacency in order to produce better results and prevent disasters.

They are appearing in these sectors of human activity – and often in a combination of the three:

  • Physical security
  • Information security
  • Strategic planning and tactical execution

These disciplines have deep historical roots even back to the Devil’s Advocate of the Catholic church – and probably much further than that, since the benefit of having contrarian thinkers as a part of any organization with a formal role of challenging plans and strategies has most likely been known in the entire history of human civilization.

Red Teaming allows us to think about a problem from an adversarial viewpoint, to think like the enemy in order to solve challenges and identify points of possible improvement.

But Red Teaming is not just about unleashing a wave of crankiness, critique and negativity, there’s a professional method to the madness.

Today, in a world where that civilization has reached an unprecedented and almost incomprehensible pace of change and uncertainty, it has become a set of discipline, first formally recognized by military organizations like the US and Israeli armies as a response to grave mistakes that have been extremely costly for these institutions, such as the Yom Kippur and Second Gulf wars.

The US Army in the seminal document “The Applied Critical Thinking Handbook: Formerly The Red Team Handbook” defines the activities of a Red Team as being:

  • Support to operations, planning, and decision support
  • Critical review and analysis of already-existing plans
  • Intelligence support (Threat Emulation)

To enable these tasks, a set of new methods, techniques and frameworks are rapidly becoming an actual trade. As the handbook also states:

The ability to think critically about the problem is the core of Red Teaming: “While this may seem obvious, the reality is that critical thinking is a skill set that requires training, education and tools.”

Antagoniq is dedicated to introduce this new revolutionary toolbox for structured critical and contrarian thinking to a European business audience, helping organizations avoid disasters and improve their plans to enable success.

Used right, Red Teaming can become one of an organization’s most important tools, as long as the advice is actually listened to and acted upon, much like the servant in ancient Rome who would stand behind a triumphant general during a victory parade and remind him continuously: “Remember that you are mortal”.

The Red team Journal – which addresses red teaming as it relates to adversary emulation and vulnerability assessment has defined an excelent list of Laws of Red Teaming.

You can read more about this new dicipline and its practices in the Resources section of this website – also check out the blog or join our (quarterly) newsletter.