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How To Protect the Data in Your Custom Applications

How To Protect the Data in Your Custom Applications

In April of 2019, two third-party Facebook app datasets were exposed to the public. The data breach accounted for over 540 million records, including information like Facebook IDs, account names, comments, and likes. 

Breaches that begin with application attacks account for almost 50% of breach costs, even though they only account for about 20% of data breaches. In other words, application attacks are not only possible, but they're also expensive.

As hackers find new ways to acquire data, data protection mechanisms continue to improve.

Are you looking for a way to protect your data? Keep reading for a break down of how to use data protection mechanisms in your custom applications.

The Importance of Data Protection In Applications

The average individual has over 80 apps downloaded on their phone. The importance of data protection is more relevant now than ever, particularly concerning apps.

Plus, most apps touch some very sensitive parts of our lives. As a result, they store private and confidential data about us, including things like shopping, medical care, banking, contacts, and more.

Most app developers remember to secure the important information like social security numbers and credit cards to adhere to data privacy requirements. However, sometimes developers forget to pay more attention to less obvious elements of processing data.

What Are Data Privacy Requirements?

Every app developer must ask themselves, do I collect, store, and share personal data? If the answer is yes, then they need a privacy policy.

Personal data can be anything from a first and last name to location data.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European privacy law that applies to the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). Any company that markets services or goods to European Union citizens must comply with GDPR, regardless of where that company is located. As a result, GDPR impacts global data protection requirements.

The law governs that apps must provide customers with:

  • Easy access to personal data (how data is processed)
  • The right to data portability (users should be able to transfer information from one provider to the next)
  • The right to be forgotten (users should be able to delete data through simple steps)
  • The right to be informed about any breach (publishers should notify authorities within 72 hours of a data breach)

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a recent consumer privacy legislation that passed into California law in June of 2018 and took effect on January 1, 2020. It's been described as being like GDPR but for the United States.

It's considered the most stringent privacy legislation enacted in any of the 50 states. Essentially, it gives power to consumers when it comes to private data. Companies already complying with the GDPR likely meet many of the requirements of the California Act.

What Is Personal Information?

So what information is considered personal?

It's a broad term, so everyone must be on the same page as to what constitutes personal. There are dozens of specific data items listed in the new legislation, including:

  • Household purchase data
  • Biometric data
  • Family information (number of children in a household, for example)
  • Sleep habits
  • Financial information
  • Geolocation

Under application security laws, if a consumer ever wants to know what data of theirs is being collected, the company is required to provide that information.

What Is Application Security?

Application security refers to measures taken at the application (apps) level. These precautions strive to prevent code or data within an app from being hijacked or stolen.

The sooner and faster you can find security issues in the development process, the safer and more successful your enterprise will be. Safeguarding your app from corruption and unauthorized access by external or internal people protects your business from brand erosion, financial loss, and consumer confidence disintegration.

The Claris FileMaker tool can help you build an app like a boss, with security in mind from the very beginning. 

Organizing your data will help you stay protected, too. Data planning and proper data hygiene practices exist to help you prevent any issues from snowballing into bigger ones before it's too late.

Types of Data Security

From authentication to access control, there are quite a few different types of data security.


Authentication and authorization can boost data security and protect your company from data breaches. Authentication verifies if a particular user's credentials match what's stored in your database. Some examples of today's authentication processes include mechanisms like PINS, passwords, a swipe card, security tokens and biometrics.

Backups and Recovery

Any secured application should also include a plan for how to access client and company data in the event of an app or system failure, data corruption, breach, or disaster. Performing regular backups is an essential way to help with that access.

In a data backup, a copy of your data is made and stored on a separate system or medium. That way, if you lose data, you can always recover it.

Access Control

Authorization and authentication occur through a process called access control. Who can access an app, and when? These control systems might include:

  • Mandatory access control (system admin can strictly control all information access)
  • Role-based access control (users are only privy to specific information, based on organizational roles)
  • Discretionary access control (allows access to resources based on the identity of groups or users)


Data encryption software uses an algorithm (also called a cipher) and an encryption key to turn normal text into encrypted text. This algorithm significantly enhances data security.

Data can only be decrypted by a user who has an authorized key. Encryption is used to protect:

  • Data you store
  • Data exchanged between databases, the cloud, and mobile devices

Encryption keys must be securely managed for full effectiveness.


Tokenization takes sensitive data and replaces it with random characters that are not algorithmically reversible. Rather than being decrypted mathematically, those token values are stored in a protected database lookup table.

The actual data is stored on a secure and separate platform.

Data Masking

Data Masking helps with application security by obscuring numbers and letters with proxy characters. The data hasn't gone anywhere; it's merely hiding behind a mask. When an authorized user receives that data, the data changes back to its original form.


When it comes time to delete data permanently, erasure works to overwrite the data so that it's irretrievable. Deletion is a process that just hides data, but more often than not, it's still easy to retrieve.

When developing custom apps with the Claris FileMaker Platform, you get top-notch security technologies, including field-level privilege set based security, file-level encryption using AES 256-bit encryption, SSL encryption of network traffic protection and third-party OAuth provider integration with well-known brands like Google and Microsoft.

Data Protection Mechanisms Are Crucial

Data protection mechanisms are of the utmost importance when it comes to protecting your enterprise, its data, your employees and your reputation. Due to COVID, there are additional security considerations while managing your remote workforce

Even though there are various types of data security, the most efficient application works by using as many of them as possible.

Would you like support in your new application venture? Don't hesitate to reach out to us. We want to meet you!

Schedule a free initial consultation

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