Testing readiness - red team style
One thing we often perform is readiness exercises. These can mean different things and are planned based on the requirements.
One scenario that presents itself quite often is the one where members of an IT team, contractors and TOC personnel have to work overseas on semi-permissive or non-permissive environments.
These teams need to be ready to deal with not just security issues regarding their networks but also threats that are potentially life-ending.
An example of this is an exercise we performed for a team in the armed forces. This team was going to get deployed and their CO wanted to see whether they were ready.
After some research on the area of operations (AO), we had an idea of the potential problems on that location. So, we deviced a series of tests that would "feed each other" to simulate threats and problems in that particular AO.
The team set the TOC as if they were on location. While this was being set we started attacking. They weren't even ready and we pounded them.
That AO is known for having random power failures that disrupt the normal activity. We began cutting their power supply at random intervals. Sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes several hours. We began to send them angry messages over the battery operated comms telling them that they were not welcome (both in English and the local language).
When they finally managed to set the TOC we began the digital attack with random scans of their networks, random radio jamming and DOS attacks. We tried to penetrate their servers to see whether they were monitoring their systems. Of course we continue with the power disruptions to see how they would react.
Then we played the role of the top brass coming for a surprise inspection. Half of the the red team became top generals while the other continue to digitally and physically attack the TOC. A general would be reviewing the radar system when all the sudden the power would go out.
The exercise lasted for a week giving the TOC team a taste of what would be to work on the location they were being sent. This prepared them to better deal with the stress of this and other problems they might encounter.
It was a fun exercise.