In the coming month, we'll be seeing rival team drama at its best
In the coming month, we'll be seeing rival team drama at its best

In the coming month, we'll be seeing rival team drama at its best

Despite the extraordinary preparations, the World Cup is renowned for its unpredictability. Strong teams can fall like flies, while unlikely newcomers can take the soccer world by storm.  Sometimes it can boil down to the group stage or the weather, and other times it can be sheer luck. But more often than not, methods and tactics play an instrumental role in exploiting vulnerabilities, shaping attack and defense, and changing soccer history.

In both the field & security environments, masterminding tactics is key

In cybersecurity exercises, where red teams and blue teams are pitched at opposing sides of the spectrum, masterminding tactics is key.  And just as strategy and offensive-defensive tactics play a crucial role in a player's success, advanced red and blue team tools, tactics and processes (TTPs) can improve an organization's security posture.

Here are some top takeaways from soccer field defense and attack procedures that can be replicated in red team - blue team exercises:

Be prepared! Scenario planning for field attacks

Club management teams worth their mint can play out both defensive and offensive-minded strategies, while the very best can combine the two. They will create positional scenarios and strategies to achieve the tactical template for winning the game. Often, scenarios for how to score goals and how to stop them are formed after observing and learning the rival team's tactics and habits.

Football & security simulation teams research multiple scenarios before attacks

The Spanish teams are renowned for their expertise in rival analysis. Seasoned assistant coach David Bettoni of Real Madrid is such a tactician, he and his team even employ data scientists to analyze their rivals' games and develop threat intelligence.

In the cybersecurity field, red team-blue team simulation exercises operationalize threat intelligence by simulating real-life cyberattacks. Successful red team-blue team simulations will research and develop a hacker's guide or playbook to dissect their tradecraft, find out how attack vectors are formed and prevent similar attacks. 

Strategies for controlling space & attack surfaces are more similar than you think

Soccer tactics involve visualizing and controlling space. Similarly, simulation exercises visualize the attack surface and harness hacker tactics to understand, control and improve threat models. 

In soccer, coaches develop intelligence models after analyzing tracking data, in a bid to connect lines between the players and visualize possible passes. For example; the Delaunay Triangulation geometric model highlights possible paths for passing the ball between players and keeping control over the space. It is not only their skill with the ball, but their geometrically accurate positioning that makes it possible to control the pass. 

New automated tracking and measuring methods help elite team managers to hunt for new opportunities and exploit gaps left wide open by the opposition. Previous Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola (now Manchester City manager) is a master at devising such space control strategies. Considered the most innovative coach in Europe, he worked tirelessly on tracking space gaps and offensive defense strategies to change the rhythm of the game. 

Visualization exposes vulnerabilities within the field space and attack surface

In cybersecurity, red team simulations done well will leverage reconnaissance techniques and build an accurate picture of the attack surface. Like a seasoned football team manager, red teamers will map out the threat environment and research the gaps in the attack paths to prevent future attacks. Visualization of the attack surface will provide insights needed to expose vulnerabilities and build effective campaigns against cyber-threats. Once the gaps are visible, organizations can then progress to actionable insights and prioritized remediation.

Weak defense is costly on the field and in an organization's network

On the field, just as within the security realm, defensive strategies and tactics are paramount. Having a strong defensive line-up is essential for a successful offense, if we follow Pep's philosophy.

In soccer, defense simulations can help determine where to position players and when to mark. By learning the opposition's movements and attack methods, teams can form proactive defense strategies. These plans can help to destabilize opponents and suffocate opposition attacks. They can even prevent counter attacks, giving the winning team the edge.

Teams with expert defense strategies can offer space superiority

Atletico Madrid is renowned for its proactive defense set in the famous 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 player positioning shapes. In games against high profile teams such as Barcelona, they're able to quickly ambush the opposing players and cause them to restart another strategy. They often compress space and win the ball by misleading the opposing team. Italian team Juventus is also famous for its resolute defense methods. The team ongoingly develops responsive defense models, manifested in their 4-3-2-1 and 4-4-2 line-ups.

In cybersecurity simulations, blue teams are tasked with defending against attackers while continually improving an organization's security posture. Similar to professional soccer teams, blue teams need to mitigate any weaknesses in their line of defense and act on threat findings.

The overall winner is the organization

Nonetheless, the buck stops here when comparing the two; unlike football games, where there is a clear winner or loser, in red team-blue team exercises, the overall winner is the organization.

When advancing to an automated platform, simulation exercises can work continuously in a 24/7 loop to expose attack vectors and prioritize actionable remediation. A continuous and fluid loop is key to preventing new security cracks in between exercises. Still, the concept of constant cybersecurity protection can only be played out in the network. 

In the end, nothing beats the thrill of non-stop championship-caliber soccer played out in the World Cup. Over the next month, millions of us will be glued to our televisions to watch the drama unfold, while we leave the security teams to silently stop the next hacker.