Sherlock Holmes, Red Teamer

by Red Team Journal on March 30, 2015

In Sir Arthur ArthurConanDoyle_AStudyInScarlet_annual_175Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, Holmes explains to Dr. Watson the ability to “reason backwards,” a practice that sounds uncannily like a common form of red teaming:

In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backwards. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practise it much. In the every-day affairs of life it is more useful to reason forwards, and so the other comes to be neglected. There are fifty who can reason synthetically for one who can reason analytically…. Let me see if I can make it clearer. Most people, if you describe a train of events to them, will tell you what the result would be. They can put those events together in their minds, and argue from them that something will come to pass. There are few people, however, who, if you told them a result, would be able to evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backwards, or analytically.

As red teamers, we often posit what the adversary wants (“a result”) and then “evolve from [our] own inner consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result.” Whether all red teamers do, in fact, have an “inner consciousness” is an open question, but at least when it comes of reasoning backwards, nearly all of us share this ability with the great Mr. Holmes.

New Journal and Blog

by Editor on March 24, 2015

Regular Red Team Journal readers will want to check out Cyber Defense Review, a new online journal and blog sponsored by the Army Cyber Institute and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command (MARFORCYBER). They are looking for submissions, so consider them when drafting your latest cybersecurity magnum opus.

New Card and Course Requests

March 23, 2015

Just a quick Monday update … We’ve posted a new Red Teaming Law and Card (#47, “Athena”). We’ve also had requests for the two-day “Becoming Odysseus” course in Los Angeles and Norfolk. If you’re in either of those areas, and would be interested in the two-day onsite course, let us know.

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Living in ‘Blunderland’

March 23, 2015

Red Teaming Law #45 stands as a warning to every organization, large and small. It’s a call to consider carefully things that “can’t be said.” We’re not talking here about crude or insulting things; rather, we’re talking about things that might sound valid to an outsider but just won’t fly within the organization. These sorts […]

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Red Teaming Myth #3

March 20, 2015

For our third red teaming myth, we turn to our experience working with customers who overvalue quantification and believe that “Real red teaming is all about the risk numbers.” While we appreciate the value numbers sometimes offer, we also recognize that much of what we quantify is inherently slippery and ultimately absorbed within a routinely […]

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More on ‘Minding the Gap’

March 17, 2015

Over the past several months, we’ve posted several articles on a principle of red team design that we call “Minding the Gap.” We teach it as part of our “Becoming Odysseus” course, where we also share and use our “Mind the Gap” card set. For those of you wanting to know a bit more about […]

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The Superior Red Teamer’s Learning Checklist

March 8, 2015

Imagine for a moment that we can enter the head of an average red teamer. We might find a stream of thoughts that runs like this: “They were sure impressed with my red teaming. Too bad everyone doesn’t know how to red team. The world sure would be a better place. I see things other […]

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Red Teaming Myth #2

March 4, 2015

Red teaming is a silver bullet. It’s not. First, to be effective, it has to be done well. Anyone can hang out a shingle, and many “anyones” are doing just that these days. Second, even when done well, red teaming doesn’t do away with uncertainty. In fact, the best red teamers will be the first […]

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Red Teaming Myth #1

March 2, 2015

To help promote the practice of sound red teaming, we’re launching a new series: red teaming myths. The first myth we’d like to identify and address is “Red teams predict the future.” While most customers would indeed like the red team to predict the future (and do so accurately), it’s simply beyond the practical mandate […]

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New Counterterrorism Book from Bunker, Devost, and Friends

February 26, 2015

This month is notable for a new book on counterterrorism featuring RTJ advisors Robert Bunker and Matt Devost plus a host of well-known and respected contributors (including RTJ editor Adam Elkus and occasional contributor John Sullivan). At it’s current Kindle price, Counterterrorism: Bridging Operations and Theory is literally one of those don’t-even-have-to-think-about-it purchases. I just […]

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