September 29, 2022

Special Featured Episode! Purple Teams & Threat Informed Defenses with Ben Opel

by Hacker Valley Studio

September 29, 2022

Special Featured Episode! Purple Teams & Threat Informed Defenses with Ben Opel

by Hacker Valley Studio

Show Notes

Ben Opel, Senior Director of Professional Services at Attack IQ and former Marine, joins Chris and Ron to talk about the essentials of purple teaming. Combining the essentials of the red team and the blue team, a purple team offers cybersecurity companies a unique opportunity to create a threat informed security process. Using his time in the Marines and his experience at Attack IQ, Ben walks through purple team philosophy, breach and attack simulations, and shifting from a reactive to a proactive mindset.


Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Past experiences with cybersecurity in the Marine Corp

[04:28] Exposure to purple teaming in defensive cyber ops

[10:26] Implementing breach and attack simulations in defense strategy

[14:38] Threat informed defense and the aftermath of breach simulations

[23:36] Communicating and approaching risk-related decisions 


Sponsor Links:

Thank you to our sponsor AttackIQ for bringing this episode to life! 

AttackIQ - better insights, better decisions, and real security outcomes. That's why we partnered with them to create free cybersecurity trainings! Check it out at


How did you first get exposed to purple teaming and what are some of the tenants that you hold today?

Ben’s experience in cybersecurity and his journey into purple teaming occurred during his time with the Marine Corps, performing defensive cyber ops. Originally, Ben didn’t even know the term purple team existed when he first encountered it, but his team was already approaching their work that way. Ben explains a core tenant of purple teaming is getting people in the same room and showing them the value their work brings to one another.

“We started building our teams around this multifunctional purple concept of having threat hunters, threat intelligence, red cell, support and mitigation, and forensic cell all in one. All of these capabilities in one team, where they could work synergistically.” 


What are the shortcomings and advantages of the purple team philosophy?

Like any philosophy, Ben explains that the hardest part of incorporating a purple team mindset is including it in everything your team does. To aid in this shortcoming, Ben keeps one question in mind: “What can someone do for me, and what can I do for them?” When involved in a purple team, everyone is putting their heads together. Ben explains there’s much less confusion between offensive and defensive professionals in that purple collaborative setting.

“Pure red team ops can be super fun, but you leave every job not sure they're going to actually make something with what you did. I've worked with blue teams who are like, ‘Hey, this was a great report, red, but we made some fixes, but we don't know if these are good.’”


How do we get more people into being proactive and adopting the purple team perspective?

A large majority of cybersecurity teams and processes involve reacting to potential threats and incidents. In contrast, purple teaming and threat informed defense strategies emphasize a more proactive mindset. Ben explains that working with a capability like Attack IQ helps teams build confidence in what they can prepare for and prevent. Building confidence in infrastructure and resilience in your team helps a proactive mindset thrive. 

“It’s about giving folks the ability to parse out and understand what's important to them, and to boil that down into, ‘Okay, now, what does that mean when hands on keyboard?’ Making that available, making that easily digestible. It's an education problem in this realm.”


What would be your first piece of advice for the person about to embark on discovering or explaining breaches and attacks in relation to their organization?

Ben explains that explaining breaches and helping others in your organization understand attack risks starts with showing. He explains that revealing how easily these things can happen and in what situation certain events could be particularly harmful opens the eyes of members of your team to what their threats look like. Instead of catering to doom and gloom, analyze your cyber threat risk with practicality and literal examples. 

“If I had to say that I had a specialty forced upon me by the Marine Corps, it was that. It was going over to peers and telling them that this is something that's good, bringing my red team in and letting them poke around, letting my blue team plug in to their network from some strange IP that they've never seen before.”



Keep up with our guest Ben Opel on LinkedIn

Learn more about Attack IQ on LinkedIn and the Attack IQ website

Connect with Ron Eddings on LinkedIn and Twitter

Connect with Chris Cochran on LinkedIn and Twitter

Purchase a HVS t-shirt at our shop

Continue the conversation by joining our Discord

Check out Hacker Valley Media and Hacker Valley Studio

Read more

Listen Now


Recent Episodes

May 30, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

In this cybersecurity podcast episode, Chris Cochran and Ron Eddings discuss the concept of 'dojos' as environments for growth and learning, drawing on experiences from their own career paths in cybersecurity. The 'dojo' metaphor is applied to variou...

May 23, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

Join hosts Ron and Chris as they dive into the world of Attack Surface Management (ASM) in this episode recorded live at RSAC 2023. Special guest Nabil Hannan, a seasoned industry expert and Field CISO at NetSPI, shares his wealth of knowledge and ex...

May 16, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

In this episode, hosts Ron and Chris are joined by Paul Valente, CEO and co-founder of VISO Trust, and Bryan Wong, Sr. Security Analyst at Headspace, as they dive into the world of third-party risk in cybersecurity. With conversations ranging from th...

May 9, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

In this episode, Ron Eddings and Chris Cochran discuss the concept of "paying the piper" and its impact on their careers and personal lives. Paying the piper means facing the consequences of one's actions, whether they are good or bad. Chris shares h...

May 2, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

In this podcast episode, Jack Roehrig, Technology Evangelist at Uptycs, discusses his experience with burnout and health issues due to his job as a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Jack has always known health is wealth and retired to Mexic...

April 25, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

In this episode, we explore the often-overlooked importance of empathy in the cybersecurity field. Our guest, Tracy Maleeff, shares her personal journey from community involvement to the industry and discusses how embracing empathy can lead to more e...

April 18, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

Head into RSA 2023 with a purpose. This episode is all about how to reach a win-win when sealing deals, getting hired, and networking.If you want to catch up with the Hacker Valley Team during RSA be sure to jump into our discord. You can join by goi...

April 11, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

RSA is right around the corner and we’re so excited because it’s one of our big opportunities to meet with you, our dedicated listener. If you want to catch up with the Hacker Valley Team be sure to jump into our discord. You can join by going to hac...

April 4, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

Join our creative mastermind and stand out as a cybersecurity professional: Become a sponsor of the show to amplify your brand: Love Hacker Valley Studio? Pick up some...

March 28, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

Special Thanks to our sponsor NetSPI NetSPI has a team of skilled pen-testers that can help you find those critical vulnerabilities and become your partner in creating the right remediation game plan for you. Check them out at ...