Enhancing data security with FileMaker Server
by Scott Thacher, Department Computing Administrator, Dean of the College
A year ago I would have been hard pressed to recommend FileMaker as a solution for anything besides a small, single-user, desktop database. With the big changes that the company has made to their desktop and server products (FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server), this suite of products has become a legitimate option for the more robust solutions that some departments at Brown may be looking for. FileMaker Server has some great features for securing your FileMaker databases.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the FileMaker Server product, it is essentially a passive hosting engine for FileMaker databases. Its sole purpose is to host databases for sharing among FileMaker Pro clients – it can't open, read, or modify databases, it just shares them. It will host up to 125 databases and support up to 250 simultaneous user connections. It runs on a dedicated computer, with either Windows or OSX. Here is a brief overview of some of its more useful security features:
Encryption of network traffic
FileMaker Server uses SSL to encrypt data passing between its hosted databases and FileMaker Pro running on desktop computers. This means no more clear-text passwords or data on the network.
Enhanced access control
Database permissions can be granted based on Active Directory or Open Directory group membership. This means that you can leverage existing directory services infrastructure to provide authentication and authorization for your FileMaker databases. Users will only see databases that they have been assigned permission to use. Since users authenticate as themselves, no more shared passwords!
Live backup of databases
Live database backups can be done with FileMaker Server. This means that a database can be backed up while it is open, even if users are connected. Databases can be hosted 24x7 and still be backed up regularly.
In addition to increasing the security and availability of your data, using FileMaker Server eliminates many of the problems that users typically encounter when sharing multi-user databases from desktop computers. It's relatively easy to implement, and easy to maintain.
For more detail on FileMaker Server features, visit the FileMaker web site. Note that the product documentation is good and FileMaker Server is simple to setup and use.
To learn how to members of the Brown community can obtain a copy of FileMaker Pro 7.0 (not the Server version) at no charge, go to the Software Services web site. This page also contains information on upgrading to version 7.0 and links to the FileMaker site.