Reciprocity and Degenerate Strategies | Red Team Journal

Another outstanding post by the Red Team Journal.

Defenders should always be aware of the possibility of degenerate strategies, defined in gaming terms by Salen and Zimmerman as “a way of playing a game that ensures victory every time.”1 As a defender, there’s nothing you can do against a degenerate strategy; as long as the current game persists, the attacker will win regardless of what you do. It’s your red team’s job to find degenerate strategies (if they exist) and it’s your job as the defender to change the game (so they don’t).

This is something I have been meaning to write about, but for some reason or other escaped me (although it is part of book we'll publish soon). Mark, as always, has the best words to describe some of the most important Red Teaming concepts.

Red teams can help you find your adversaries’ potential degenerate strategies, possibly (or rather, hopefully) before your adversaries themselves find them. Knowing them, you can work to counter them. Often, the best way to do this is to change the game entirely by discovering and applying your own degenerate strategy. Rich provides a great example: the introduction of stealth changed the game of air warfare forever, forcing defenders and attackers alike to rethink how they approached the game. That said, don’t expect your red team to discover stealth, but do expect them to be aware of the concept of degenerate strategies and employ it wisely in their planning and execution.