The Support Group Blog

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.

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FileMaker Backup Principles

Claris FileMaker is a fantastic tool for solving business problems. With the tool, we can create apps that both streamline and automate difficult and tedious tasks, thereby giving us time to explore other ways to expand our business and better serve our customers. Behind every effective FileMaker app is an equally powerful server. The on-premise version of FileMaker Server is a reliable app partner in terms of sharing problem-solving solutions with others in our workplaces or even folks outside of our organizations.

Nonetheless, there may be times when problems with our solutions will arise. Perhaps the physical or virtual server that we host our solution on becomes unstable and crashes, leaving the solution files in an uncertain state. Another challenging scenario is when Joe in accounting accidentally deletes a bunch of critical invoices and we need to get them back. These are both great examples of why our on-premise server and its particular files need a sound FileMaker backup system.

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Organizing Your Data

We all know data is important. It's the fuel for our business operations. The opportunity to collect and store data about our customers, inventory, sales, etc. is limitless. And, everywhere we turn, we encounter new ways to translate that data into useful information that helps us make informed decisions about and for our customers.

This data, however, can't just be heaped up in a pile and kept forever; it needs to be properly curated to help us overcome our challenges and remain competitive. Given how heavily we rely on data, you would think we would store it in such a way that would make the most efficient and practical sense, right? Not always! Most of us retain data the same way we keep our tax-related receipts — a disorganized jumble in some computerized version of a shoebox under the bed. 

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Three Simple System Checks

We came across this very cool article in Wired magazine recently. It highlights The 5 Best Toys of All Time, and we couldn’t agree with Jonathan Liu more. This article serves a reminder that simplicity that inspires creativity is the best gift of all. As our year winds down, it’s good to reflect on some of the simple things that are critical to making our business systems happy. We get excited about new technologies and we focus on new ways to enhance our existing systems. But we shouldn't overlook the basic but critically important aspects of the overall system. We recommend that you pay some attention to some fundamental features of your applications as you move forward into 2020.

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Four Steps (Maybe Five) to Improve Your Workflows

What is a workflow

Simply put, a workflow is a process. And a process is a series of steps that ultimately accomplish a specific task. These steps are systematically organized and repeatable. Recently the term "workflow" has grown increasingly popular because running a business efficiently pretty much depends on workflows. Think about it, when you order something online there is a process of reviewing an item and specifying certain criteria about the item, i.e. color, quantity, size, etc. Then you add the item to a cart so that you can go on to provide your billing and shipping information which will ultimately submit an order. And yet, the business transaction does not end there, the company from which you ordered is obligated to fulfill the order. And so there are a number of steps in the backend of the process that will hopefully result in a package arriving at the address you specified. This is a very high-level overview of a workflow. In order to optimize or improve your workflows, you must understand the detailed steps within the workflows.

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FileMaker Security Best Practices

Security is a very sensitive topic these days. Data breaches, privacy violations, malicious attacks, etc. seem to dominate national and international news stories. As we become more connected, our data becomes more attractive and consequently more vulnerable to hackers. So, we need to take proper precautions to mitigate those threats.

Company databases are particularly susceptible to threats because data is the new oil. We rely on data to make important business decisions that ultimately impact revenue and overall business success. Therefore, we must take the time and effort to establish appropriate safeguards for our data resources. 

DATA PRIVACY STANDARDS & REGULATION

In light of the fallout from Facebook's privacy breach and the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), data privacy warrants particular attention. Since extra data about people can be a liability when it comes to security, it's best to be conservative and only collect the data you need. Secure the data in your custom app according to industry standards and within your contact's expectations. For example, if you're in the healthcare field and you collect medical information from patients, you may want to audit your system’s architecture for HIPAA compliance. And you should always consider HIPPA before adding new data points to the database. If your data is accessible to third parties, you have to let your contacts know and confirm their consent before sharing their information. Whether you're engaging with folks in the US or the EU, be aware of the specific laws that protect different users/contacts and be sure you can adequately respond to questions about your data privacy procedures.

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Seven Tips for FileMaker Scripts

We’ve been writing FileMaker scripts for over 25 years now (ever since FileMaker Pro 2.0, when the ScriptMaker first appeared) and we’ve developed our own set of best practices in terms of managing them here at The Support Group. Every FileMaker developer has his or her own set of methods, preferences, styles, etc., but we all agree that writing and maintaining scripts properly can save you a lot of time and frustration in the long run. Whether you're an experienced FileMaker developer or new to development, you should find these seven scripting tips useful.

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Life Lessons: Backing Up

There’s an old adage that shows up in many forms:

Smart people learn from their own mistakes; really smart people learn from the mistakes of others.

I’d expand that to include learning from one’s successes and the successes of others, as I’ve endeavored to teach my children many times over.

I’ve been in this business over 25 years and worked at Apple for a few years before that. Over that time, I’ve seen a lot of interesting customer experiences, good and bad, with some providing major life lessons the hard way. Most of these are simple in nature but reinforce what many of us know intuitively. The stories I want to share today relate to backing up.

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