offensive security

Offensive Security: Job Titles, Roles, and Responsibilities

Gray Oshin
06 June, 2023

Offensive SecurityCybersecurity is a severe issue for many companies today. Cybercriminals desperately try to hack personally identifiable information like names, passwords, financial records, health data, etc. Considering the average cost of a data breach – over $4 million – businesses need to be PROACTIVE with cybersecurity measures or risk catastrophic damages. This is where offensive security comes in.

What is Offensive Security, and Why is it Important?

Offensive cybersecurity involves actively testing an organization’s security posture to identify vulnerabilities and security gaps before cybercriminals exploit them. 

Offensive security aims to find loopholes that cybercriminals may take advantage of and mitigate these weaknesses before they become bigger issues.

A cybersecurity incident or attack can significantly damage your business’ financial strength or reputation. So, hiring an offensive cybersecurity professional helps you stay ahead of possible security problems that could affect business continuity. 

Rather than responding to the incident when it happens, you’ll be putting measures in place to prevent it from happening. 

To achieve a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, your organization must combine offensive and defensive security (this links to the defensive security page) measures. This includes continuously testing your security posture and implementing firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and security monitoring tools.

Offensive Security Jobs, Roles, & Responsibilities

If you’re going to catch a thief, then you need to think like one, right?

This means an offensive security professional must learn and use the same tactics, skills, and tools that attackers use. 

However, for a holistic and robust offensive cybersecurity strategy, a company needs multiple professionals with different roles. 

This group is typically called the RED TEAM. 

The red team consists of several offensive security experts with different responsibilities but with the sole aim of identifying and mitigating security weaknesses.

Below are some of the most widely-known offensive security jobs that can help organizations detect cybersecurity weaknesses.

Penetration Tester 

Also known as an Ethical Hacker, a Penetration Tester is an offensive security professional who specializes in pinpointing vulnerabilities and weaknesses in an organization’s security infrastructure before cyber-criminals exploit them.

A Pen Tester achieves this goal by simulating real-world attacks on an organization’s systems using various tools, software, and techniques. This means the Pen Tester acts like a malicious actor aiming to break the organization’s security.

The Penetration Tester wants to know how fast cyber-criminals can breach an organization’s network and systems to steal sensitive data. They also want to know:

  • Which network configurations are easily exploited? 
  • What are the potential entry points for an attacker?
  • Can attackers gain unauthorized access through weak or default credentials?
  • Is any employee using weak passwords?
  • Does the organization have unpatched or outdated software that can be exploited?

Pen Testers can only get answers to these questions and uncover more hidden security risks by simulating real attacks. 

A Penetration tester follows a systematic approach, including surveillance, footprinting, scanning, exploitation, and post-exploitation. They also use multiple tools such as vulnerability scanners, network scanning tools, password cracking tools, and exploit frameworks.

After completing the security assessment, a Pen Tester prepares a detailed report outlining the weaknesses discovered, their potential impact, and recommendations to mitigate the identified risk. The company then uses this report to implement security measures that address those vulnerabilities.

Social Engineer

Social engineering is a common strategy used by cyber-criminals to attack an organization. Malicious actors often use social engineering strategies like phishing, impersonation, and pretexting to trick employees or contractors into revealing sensitive information.

A Social Engineer employs similar tactics to manipulate the people in an organization into giving them unauthorized access to networks, systems, and confidential information. 

As part of an offensive security team, a Social Engineer’s job is to assess the organization’s susceptibility to social engineering attacks. They want to know how easy it is for employees to be deceived by phishing emails, impersonation, or divulging sensitive information.

Social Engineers will typically study behavioral patterns, exploit human psychology, and manipulate individuals into taking actions that compromise the organization’s security.

After assessments, a Social Engineer may recommend different countermeasures depending on the problems. This could be multi-factor authentication (MFA), strong password policy, identity and access management policies (IAM), and more.

The insights from a Social Engineer's assessments can help organizations raise security awareness and train their workforce on identifying social engineering attacks and the appropriate steps to respond. 

Reverse Engineer

Reverse engineering involves analyzing and decompiling a system, software, or hardware to understand its functionality, behavior, code, and information flow. 

Reverse Engineers try to understand a system's underlying mechanisms, algorithms, logic, and functionality to extract information from it. They will typically examine the program's compiled code or binary representation (0s and 1s).

The role of a Reverse Engineer in offensive security is critical. Their skills are needed to investigate malware activities and develop mitigation strategies. Since Reverse Engineers were not involved in the development of the system, they’re better equipped to be critical in analyzing its entire structure and behavior. 

This independent perspective allows them to accurately identify system flaws, study malware, and viruses, and assess the difficulty of restoring important software algorithms that protect against unauthorized access.

Reverse Engineers are particularly needed for secure software development, especially involving numerous data formats, third-party integration, and extensive customer research.

A Reverse Engineer will work with different tools and techniques to achieve the best results. These tools include debuggers, disassemblers, decompilers, reverse engineering frameworks, malware analysis tools, and network analyzers.

Security Consultant

Like other offensive security jobs, the Security Consultant detects network, system, and software vulnerabilities and provides applicable solutions to strengthen them against malicious actors.

A Security Consultant’s job is to ensure organizations proactively mitigate weaknesses. Here’s what a Security Consultant will typically do to achieve this goal:

  • Perform Security Assessments

The primary responsibility of a Security Consultant is to perform a robust assessment of an organization’s current security posture to identify potential vulnerabilities. This means their jobs cover vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and security audits to reveal any loopholes and recommend solutions.

  • Conduct Risk Management

Security Consultants also conduct risk assessment and management. Many organizations today face numerous risks. In some cases, they may be unable to mitigate all the risks completely. This is why a Security Consultant is important.

A Security Consultant assesses an organization’s risk appetite and determines which risks have the most impact. For example, some risks may have more severe consequences or even affect business continuity. 

So, a Security Consultant’s risk management strategies help the company allocate resources effectively by focusing on the most critical and high-impact risks.

  • Help in Security Architecture, Infrastructure, and Design

Security Consultants can also contribute to building and designing secure architectures and systems. Their guidance helps organizations develop and implement comprehensive cybersecurity policies, controls, and best practices across their IT infrastructure.

This provides a strong foundation for future offensive security strategies. A Security Consultant will typically consider factors like identity and access controls, data protection, encryption mechanisms, and a secure network design.

  • Provide Security Awareness and Training to Employees

Around 82 percent of data breaches involve human elements, meaning human error or negligence contributes to most cyber-attacks. This makes it crucial to provide adequate security awareness and training to employees, contractors, and other stakeholders.

Security Consultants can help organizations educate their staff on cybersecurity policies, procedures, and best practices. This raises awareness and promotes a security-conscious culture that reduces the risks of social engineering attacks or human errors.

  • Ensure Compliance and Regulatory Requirements

A Security Consultant may also be required to ensure an organization's security policies meet compliance and regulatory requirements. Companies must comply with data security and privacy laws to minimize any risk of legal or financial problems.

Conclusion: Hiring the Best Offensive Security Professionals

Offensive security is a vital proactive strategy that can protect your business from malicious attacks and reduce potential damages caused by a breach. Understanding offensive security jobs will provide an overview of what roles your security infrastructure needs and who to recruit.

WebSec is a leading security staffing agency dedicated to protecting your business against the latest cybersecurity threats. Our team of experienced offensive security specialists can help you identify critical security threats and ensure your business is safe and sustainable. 

We also provide security solutions and tools that are customized to your current needs. Send us a quick message to choose your offensive cybersecurity team now.

Authored By
Gray Oshin

A Team Member at Websec

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Authored By
Gray Oshin

A Team Member at Websec