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Emerging Security Trends Affect FileMaker Platform

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Steven H. Blackwell

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Emerging Trends in Information Security Affect FileMaker Platform

 

By Steven H. Blackwell

March 17th 2016

The recently concluded annual RSA Security Conference showcased a number of important emerging trends in Information Security that likely will affect FileMaker Platform developers and Administrators of FileMaker Platform systems. In this BLOG entry, I will describe some of these and offer some observations about how they might apply to the FileMaker Platform.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) will increasingly become a standard requirement for Identity and Access Management (I&AM) in organizations of all sizes. This is especially true for connectivity by mobile devices. And it especially true for data hosted in the Cloud. As we saw recently, efforts to create a “two-factor authentication” system inside of the FileMaker Pro client product did not work out well at all. (http://fmforums.com/blogs/blog/112-eye-on-filemaker/) A true MFA system will require coordinated integration with FileMaker Server, wherever that server resides.

The data are still the key asset.  Outer perimeter defenses, while important, are secondary to protecting the data from the inside out. The data are the asset we most seek to protect, wherever the data reside.  For the most part, they reside inside of the database itself. That’s why finely-grained Privilege Sets, strong I&AM, Encryption At Rest, and Encryption In Transit are all so important for FileMaker Platform deployments.

Insiders are the new malware.  And now, everyone is an Insider.  Whether by inadvertence, by curiosity, by carelessness, or by malicious intent, those persons inside organizations and inside organizational supply chains remain a principal threat vector for compromise of digital assets. Any number of major recent data breaches over the past year or so started in the organizational supply chain apparently.

Context-sensitive and content-sensitive conditional authentication of identity assertions will become more and more common.  What does this mean? A trusted insider accessing data from inside a corporate LAN may trigger one level of authentication requirement.  That same user when attempting access from outside the LAN may trigger multiple steps (factors) of authentication requirements.  Moreover, access to more sensitive data may require additional authentication factors. And when the context changes mid-session, additional authentication challenges may need to appear.  This again will require close integration with FileMaker Server.

The need for cyber-insurance will increase dramatically. To mitigate the liability associated with data breaches, more and more organizations of all sizes are going to need to acquire cyber-insurance. Premiums will continue to rise. Organizations of all types and sizes face liabilities such as damage to brand reputation, civil judgments in suits brought by persons whose data are compromised, business interruptions, and–dare I even say it—cyber-extortion. The underwriting process for this will require a more stringent adherence to a range of Best Practices by those seeking the insurance. Small and medium-sized businesses, a staple of the FileMaker community, are perhaps least well equipped to survive a major breach absent this insurance.

Regulatory attention to security breaches will increase at both the Federal and State levels. Additionally there will be concomitant increases in scrutiny about whether organizations have employed “reasonable” security practices.  What constitutes such practices is sometimes unclear; however, in any given instance, the list may be extensive. The California Attorney General’s Office recently noted that there were at least twenty specific items that any organization should presume to employ in order to meet the standard of “reasonable” security practices. (These are the Center for Internet Security’s Critical Security Controls.
https://www.cisecurity.org/critical-controls.cfm)

The Attorney General’s report notes that in 2015 approximately 60% of Californians were victims of a data breach of one sort or the other. And the data involved are often the most sensitive type information, including financial data and health-care records. California is often a leading-edge indicator for regulatory actions, and it is entirely to be expected that other states will follow suit here. (https://oag.ca.gov/breachreport2016)

So, where does this leave the FileMaker platform and the FileMaker Developer Community?

First, developers and administrators need to be sure they have properly aligned the security requirements of their systems to business requirements.  This includes such items as brand reputation, customer/client data privacy, civil liability protection, regulatory compliance (State and Federal and international as applicable), and business continuity.  I will be having much more to say about this is coming weeks.

Second, developers need to follow Best Practices for security in FileMaker Platform files. This includes granular Privilege Sets, Encryption at Rest, and File Access Protection.

Third, FileMaker Server Administrators also need to follow Best Practices for deployment, including appropriate OS for servers, a rigorous backup regimen including the tested ability to restore from backups, and Encryption in Transit.

Fourth, business unit managers at FileMaker Platform customers need training in Security Best Practices from the user standpoint.  Likewise, they should assure that their employees have a similar awareness.

Fifth and finally, but certainly not least, we need to encourage FileMaker, Inc. to continue to improve the security schema of the Platform, most particularly the introduction of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and the introduction of additional controls over the behavior of various external API’s.  This includes Apple Events, Active X, Execute SQL, PHP, XML, FMPURL, and PlugIns.

 

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