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Red Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy
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Red Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  418 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Essential reading for business leaders and policymakers, an in-depth investigation of red teaming, the practice of inhabiting the perspective of potential competitors to gain a strategic advantage

Red teaming. The concept is as old as the Devil's Advocate, the eleventh-century Vatican official charged with discrediting candidates for sainthood. Today, red teams are used wi
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published November 3rd 2015 by Basic Books
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Nov 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: work
Solid book, though some of the anecdotes go on and a few chapters are a little scattered.

His six best practices for Red Teams are solid:

Red Teams must:
Be outside & objective while being inside & aware
Be fearless skeptics with finesse
Have a bag of tricks (that doesn't grow stale)

The Organizations that want to implement red teaming must:
Have a boss that buys into the process (This is listed first in the book because it is most important)
Be willing to hear bad news and act on it
Red team just enough
I know, I know; five? But yes, dear reader, for Micah Zenko has managed to capture that most elusive of talents in this book: real creative thought. Red teaming is hard, all the more so as it requires not just abstract and obtuse thinking but also challenging entrenched mores and heartfelt convictions. The book's case studies run the gamut from defense and intelligence to business and information security, and while there could have been a few more, managing to synthesize the small but burgeonin ...more
Chris Ingram
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
You can't grade your own homework, but you can learn the myths, best practices, and worst cases of red teaming. The book is a great intro into the topic of red team alternative analysis, and will be useful for those considering the use of red teams, or deciding if it is an endeavor they'd like to consider. Loaded with real world cases, the book lets you know the land mines to avoid and the factors to consider when hiring/assigning a red team to a project.
Dec 07, 2015 rated it liked it
I think this was a very thorough coverage of the topic. It felt a little unsatisfying, but I don't think that was the fault of the author. I think that in reality, Red Teaming hasn't been adopted as thoroughly as it might warrant.

If the reader is expecting stories of Red Teaming changing the course of military or corporate events, they may be disappointed.
John Tangney
Aug 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
The first thing I learned from this (audio) book was that Red Teaming is much broader than I originally thought. I had thought it was synonymous with pen testing. This book set me straight. I really enjoyed the idea of Devil's Advocate as a mindset that's essential in red teaming. I found the many (man, many, many) military and intelligence examples quite interesting, whether they were tales of success or failure. The book was worth a read (or listen, in my case.)

Other reviewers cited the fact t
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
A good exploration of how successful organizations--both private and public--fight for quality feedback in order to improve performance. Zenko clarifies what is necessary to ensure that quality--such as a boss who won't shelve the findings, and the composition of an effective Red Team. Some of it was pretty disturbing, such as the number of organizations that will do it just to claim their process has been audited by an outside entity (with no follow-up on the recommendations) or the vulnerabili ...more
Eddie Choo
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Comprehensive guide to red teaming

Micah Zenko has probably written the most authoritative guide to red teaming in the military, government and in the private sector. An important guide to the limits and opportunities that red teaming offers.
Tadas Talaikis
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Conformism provides opportunities to red teams.
Justin Walker
Apr 07, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Misleading title

History of red teaming, yes. Value of red teaming, maybe. How to red team, no. No discussion on tools to break through biases or "think like the enemy." Disappointing purchase.
Sep 26, 2016 rated it liked it
decent book on the process of red teaming, and the insights on what makes red teaming successful. Zenko's ability to distinguish between government and private red-teaming was especially insightful ...more
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Book on quite popular approach of analysis called red teaming. Often used in military and politics, but more recently it gains traction also in private business sector (mostly in realms of security testing (both physical and online), competitor analysis). Red teaming is basically a quality feedback method that applies out-of-the-box thinking to issues any structure with an action plan is concerned with. In the book you'll find many case studies of red team principle application in real life prac ...more
Oct 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-scribd
This book is an analytical look at the full spectrum of Red Team activities. These activities are both efforts to "think like the enemy" and critical, open-minded analyses of a range of organizations. These can include governments, military, and corporate operations that want to take a critical look at their opportunities and their shortcomings.

Zenko outlines examples of both the beneficial, qualified applications of red teaming and the useless, self-serving forms that groups may take. One is g
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfic, worklife
I checked this book out in April and just finished it today. It is dense. It is often dry. But it is very informative. The stories about brilliant red teaming were really quite elucidating.

This book will make you feel annoyed as you read about all the red teaming that was done before 9/11 and the airline industry's persistent refusal to change their security in the SLIGHTEST until the government took it over. It might also make you feel kind of helpless as you read how easily our military is de
Red Team was/is the military team that is assigned to play the part of the opposition during war gaming. Zenko illustrates some of the points where Red Teams have been used to test security, online and offline; and how difficult it can be to bring the weaknesses found to the attention of management.

Why I started this book: I'd heard Red Team exercises from talking to retired soldiers and from other professional reading material.

Why I finished it: Interesting to learn the origin of Devil's Advoca
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Red Teaming has three purposes: simulation, vulnerability probes and alternative analysis. The challenge is to be successfully incorporated into organisation, without being captured by organisational culture and biases.

The book was full of examples but lacked a wider theory to tie it all together. It was just a succession of `red teaming found X problem, the bosses didn't listen, X happened, the bosses now value red teaming'.
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid, overall take of what 'red teaming' entails alongside some good historical background and recommendations for best practices. While interesting, it started to feel a bit repetitive and less informative as I went through. While interesting a more distilled, focused exploration would have been more helpful. While best practices were recommended, they were not nearly as specific or as helpful as they could have potentially been. ...more
Jen Savage
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For individuals that work in information security, your definition of red teaming may be a bit more narrowly defined than in this book. This challenged my own views on red teaming and gave me the feeling that I have been on the right track, but could expand my understanding on how engagements could proceed if given an expanded scope.
Scott Ouellette
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: leadership, business
An excellent and thorough review of how red team thought processes can be an essential tool in the growth of a business / organization. The author provides several case studies in which red teams were used to great success, and, unfortunately, ignored to disastrous consequences.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Case studies of how to make organizations stronger, particularly from cyberattack, by thinking, and acting, like the adversary. Security through obscurity is no longer sufficient, and the status quo is ticking time bomb.
Fred Leland
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great resource

This book is a great resource on red teaming, its history and the adaptable methodologies used to influence positive change with in organizations. It well written and well researched. I highly recommend it.
Aaron Bright
Dec 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I didn’t finish this book, got about halfway and stopped. I’m sure it’s a good book but I live this life already and I’m not going to the school that it references time and again. I was hoping for some stronger insights into “how” but they just weren’t there. Oh well.
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
What to improve your objectivity? Everyone needs a little challenge in their lives. Seek out some constructive disagreement.
Jim Jenkins
Oct 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Good concepts, but the book is a bit too dry for my tastes.
Steinar Dahl
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good read and pitches several interesting concepts. Must read for anyone interested in intelligence work, decision making or leadership positions from junior to strategic levels.
Tarmo Tali
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Useful, but repetitive and reads like a government report, not like a book.
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Exceptional read. Very good red team methods thoroughly described for different situations in order to think "outside the box". ...more
Frank Kelly
An interesting history of the use of Red Team assessments. Excellent and essential if you are considering conducting a Red Team assessment.
Drew Weatherton
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
YAWN. This book could easily have been half its length an conveyed all the key points. I had to top and return to it twice (going off to read other, more engaging books) to get through it all.
Chris Doelle
Great start for someone new to the concept. My full review --> ...more
Thor Toms
Ok book, lots of repetition, could have used a better editor to tighten the writing up.
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6 likes · 2 comments
“astonishing number of senior leaders are systemically incapable of identifying their organization’s most glaring and dangerous shortcomings. This is not a function of stupidity, but rather stems from two routine pressures that constrain everybody’s thinking and behavior. The first is comprised of cognitive biases, such as mirror imaging, anchoring, and confirmation bias. These unconscious motivations on decision-making under uncertain conditions make it inherently difficult to evaluate one’s own judgments and actions. As David Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, has shown in countless environments, people who are highly incompetent in terms of their skills or knowledge are also terrible judges of their own performance. For example, people who perform the worst on pop quizzes also have the widest variance between how they thought they performed and the actual score that they earned.22” 1 likes
“second related pressure stems from organizational biases—whereby employees become captured by the institutional culture that they experience daily and adopt the personal preferences of their bosses and workplaces more generally. Over a century ago, the brilliant economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen illustrated how our minds become shaped and narrowed by our daily occupations:” 1 likes
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