Penetration Test vs. Red Team Assessment: What’s the difference?
On a very basic level, Penetration Tests can be looked at as assessing and protecting against potential “smash-and-grab” attacks (loud, sudden, brute-force attacks), whereas Red Team Assessments do the same for “cat burglar” attacks (stealthy, hard to detect, usually targeted attacks).
Another difference is exactly what these two types of assessments are trying to accomplish. Since Penetration Tests are limited in scope and time, they are great for identifying vulnerable systems, networks, and systemic security issues. In contrast, the goal of a Red Team Assessment is to test the company’s detection and response capacities. Upon breaching the system by any means necessary, the Red Team will try to stay there as long as possible without being detected, and while collecting as much sensitive information as possible.