Turkeys, Tech, and Table Settings: A Humorous Guide to IT Security at Thanksgiving Dinner

November 22, 2023

Turkeys, Tech, and Table Settings: A Humorous Guide to IT Security at Thanksgiving Dinner 


Let’s set the table a bit.  As you know, in the U.S., Thanksgiving is coming up.  And recently I had a conversation with my 83-year-old mother about Thanksgiving.  Of course, we came across the inevitable parallels between Thanksgiving dinner and network security!  That’s what you would be thinking when talking about Thanksgiving dinner with someone right?   

Before we dive into the feast, let me set the table. At Teneo, we believe in simplification through innovation, and our StreamlineX framework is the secret sauce to an exceptional user experience. It ensures that connections between users and their apps are as optimized as possible, fully observable, and of course, highly secure. 

When talking about the security aspects of our StreamlineX framework, I generally break it down into 3 areas.  Securing the end point, securing the network, and protecting against breaches.  Let’s explore some parallels between these 3 areas and Thanksgiving dinner. But what funny stories or parallels comes to your mind?  We would love to hear yours in the comments. 

Secure the End Point 

In the cybersecurity feast, the first course is securing the endpoint.  Teneo’s first area of our framework is Advanced End-point Protection and focuses on two of the most important vectors of endpoint compromise: files and email.   

Just like how you want a deep learning neural network based Anti-virus solutions in your enterprise, at thanksgiving dinner you want: 

  • A vigilant health inspector in your kitchen, checking every ingredient to ensure it’s safe to use and there is no rotten or spoiled food. This inspector not only checks the expiration date (which would be like legacy signatures in AV), but also understands what every ingredient is supposed to smell and taste like, to immediately spot something that needs to go in the trash.     

What about advanced AI behavioral based email security?  Phishing and BEC attacks are on the rise. $51 billion dollars where lost due to business email compromise (BEC) in 2022 alone.  One way to combat that is with a technology that truly understand email context and is able to find the bad apples. 

  • At dinner, we know that Aunt Susie is the gossip guru.  Which makes her perfect to spot anything fishy faster than you can say “cranberry sauce.”  She notices that Uncle Larry has been talking to everyone about what a great businessperson he is, and about this big business deal he has going on, and sometimes asking folks if they want to get involved.  She thinks, “wait a minute, Uncle Larry has never talked about business before and certainly never asked for money.  Something is wrong here!”  She clues you in.  You pull Uncle Larry aside and ask about what is going on and he admits that he’s not really in business and just needs some loans to tide him over. Knowing behavior makes it possible to find when things are amiss and stop them.     

Secure the Network 

We also want to make sure we don’t have any dinner crashers, which is like security the core network.  Securing the network falls under several of the technology areas of Teneo’s StreamlineX framework, but we’ll focus on Secure Service Edge which starts with and zero trust networking architecture (ZTNA) and thus knowing the identity of your users.  62% of interactive intrusions involve compromised identities. 

  • At Thanksgiving dinner, you certainly would notice if someone showed up who is not supposed to be there.  Or perhaps you’re ok with unexpected guests, but people you don’t know get a little different treatment.  You want to keep an eye on them and make sure they stay where you can see them and observe what they are doing.  So, knowing people’s identity is critical. 
  • But it’s not just knowing who people are, it’s knowing who is supposed to be at your house on Thanksgiving Day, right?  You really don’t want Uncle Larry showing up on Wednesday…at 2am!  So, timing is important.  Is the person authorized and for when. 
  • But also, the where is important. You get that call from Uncle Larry telling you that he’s here, and to let him in, but when you go to the door, he’s not there!  So, you go outside and look down the block and see him at your neighbor’s house, banging on their door.  Obviously knowing where someone is supposed to be is critically important as well.  Good thing your neighbors secure service edge is working, and sorry about the police call! 
  • And then there is the ever-watchful eye and or ears of my wife, always watching everything going on, and listening as well.  Do y’all know someone like that?  Perhaps you are that person.  Able to be cooking, having a conversation about work, and without losing a beat, she turns her head and corrects something I said in a story I was spinning in the other room.  Zero Trust Network Architecture is all about continually verifying everything. 

Protect Against Breaches 

We’ve secured the end-point, and secured the network, but we still need to protect when an unwelcome dinner crashers gets in.  If we have great network security, do we really need to plan for a breach?  There in lies the problem.  So long as devices are connected to networks and people are involved, there is nonzero chance of a breach occurring, and thus you must have a strategy for it.  Having our Head-in-the-sand doesn’t count as a strategy.  With over 2,200 cyberattack incidents occurring per day, you must prepare a defense.   

In our StreamlineX framework we do this via software defined segmentation that is simple to deploy, easy to manage, and lives with the workload, thus providing breach protection and alerting. This stops attackers at the most important phase of intrusion and blocks any further reconnaissance. 

But what about segmentation at your Thanksgiving dinner? 

  • It may be that you have a different table for the adults and the kids, and maybe the young adults end up eating upstairs in the room with the 5 Xbox’s they’ve setup.  This is like using VLANS to segment traffic at a high level. 
  • You might add a seating arrangement to keep certain people away from other people to avoid conflicts or because certain people have specific dietary needs and you want to make sure they get the gluten free items.  This could be like adding specific access control lists or identity based policies.  
  • Or maybe you want to make sure the mash potatoes don’t touch the cranberry sauce.  Do any of you like to keep your items separated on your plate?  That would be like keeping virtual servers separated residing on the same hypervisor.  Or even ensuring that only a specific process on one server can communicate with another specific process on another.  Any deviation is blocked and logged. 


Or maybe security isn’t important at your dinner and your prefer a buffet style in a park, where you let whoever come, and go where they please.  But just remember to keep an eye out for 6-year-old Mikey who licked several of the bread rolls before selecting the one they wanted, and buddy the dog who is waiting to pounce in those eye-level tasty treats!   

Security is a critical component of Teneo’s StreamlineX framework.  If you’d like to learn more about how it can hep you strengthen your existing security strategy, meet with us and we’d be happy to walk through it and help with or validate you planning and roadmap.

For those in the U.S., we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving!  


Author:  Steve Evans, SVP Technical Customer Success, Teneo

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