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The Architecture of Privacy by Elissa Lerner, Daniel Slate, John K Grant, Ari Gesher, Courtney Bowman

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Chapter 8. Federated Systems

Overview

People often want to run queries across multiple sources of data because the information they’re looking for is spread out over many different places. However, searching individually through each data source quickly becomes cumbersome and tedious. It’s also costly to build a search interface for each and every data source. On the other hand, putting all of your possibly-relevant data in a single data warehouse can be wasteful and unsecure. It requires lots of duplicative data (frequently riddled with copying errors) and presents attackers with a single target that, once breached, will compromise all your sensitive data.

Federated data systems make it possible to search for, find, retrieve, and view data from multiple sources (both internal or external) by using a single coherent interface, and do not require all of that data to be stored in a single monolithic database. Data is left in place at its source, secured and managed by each source system’s owners, and end users can view and interact with all of the data relevant to their activities. In some cases, users might be conscious of the fact that their data is stored in separate systems. In other cases, the system may behave as if all the pieces of data were all in a single database dedicated to the application they use. Either way, federated systems offer a convenient user experience without compromising the security of the data within it, and different kinds of federated architectures ...

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