What is Federated Search

What IS Federated Search (And Why Should You Care)?

Any cybersecurity expert will (or at least should) tell you that every single security investigation requires access to any potentially relevant data in order to arrive at a conclusion with a high confidence outcome. One critical point where they disagree, however, is whether or not it’s even possible to get this from a single data centralization solution. In a previous post, I covered the topic of companies moving past universal data centralization because achieving this lofty goal remains largely out of reach due to a number of factors: cost, volume, distribution of data, and even politics and bureaucracy, sadly, often create challenges associated with this effort. So, if it’s not feasible for companies to achieve true data centralization, what’s a cybersecurity operations team to do?

Enter: search. Or, more specifically, federated search.

At a high level, federated search aggregates the results of a user-initiated search to multiple search engines and presents those results back to the user. At least that’s Gartner’s definition of it.1 However, it’s important to note that to talk about federated search, we first need to acknowledge that search itself is fundamentally flawed because, as I noted above, the centralization of all that siloed data is not possible yet is a prerequisite to every security investigations tool to date. The purpose of search functionality is to gain insights into data. Yet, you can’t trust insights that don’t incorporate all data that may be available. The real value of federated search is obtaining centralized access for complete insights from decentralized data.

Federated Search for Security
Federated search functionality is not new, but it’s full potential hasn’t been realized especially within the cybersecurity industry. Let me paint you a picture. The average enterprise uses 50-75 cybersecurity products that are in the cloud, third-party SaaS, and on-prem. As a result, relevant data is located everywhere, making it very difficult for organizations to access and gain insights from that data in a timely fashion. Cybersecurity teams must pivot between multiple tools to search individual data sources and build their own spreadsheets to manually complete investigations—what we like to call “the swivel chair challenge.” This creates inefficiencies that slow the investigation process and further burden already overworked staff. Worse yet, generally, some important dataset is often out of reach, compromising the integrity and confidence we have in the outcome of the investigation. It’s what we don’t know that can hurt us, right? Does all this sound too familiar?

Companies long for that much-desired “easy button” that gives them a simple and efficient way to unlock data access across distributed cybersecurity systems. Leveraging federated search functionality that enables teams to access all data regardless of where it lives across the enterprise can increase productivity, and more quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively address security threats.

I encourage you to check out the new Query.AI Federated Search for Splunk app that helps companies drive efficiencies in their cybersecurity investigations. Just keep in mind—this is only one of many ways this unique approach to federated search can bring value to organizations. If you’re not sure how it can work for you, ask yourself this one question: “Am I really accessing all the relevant data?” If the answer is “no,” or, “I’m not sure,” let’s chat.

1 – Gartner (https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/federated-search)