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Rest Easy With Encrypted Databases in FileMaker

The new version of FileMaker 13 has added database encryption to its ever-growing list of features. Anyone familiar with HIPAA is likely already familiar with encryption of data at rest. However, this feature will be beneficial to everyone and I see no reason not to take full advantage of it. Note: Encryption requires FileMaker Pro Advanced to set up.

How It Works

To set up encryption, fire up FileMaker Pro Advanced and launch the Developer Utilities. Add the file(s) that you wish encrypt, then under Solution Options select Specify, and choose Enable Database Encryption from the Solution Options. You will need to specify a FileMaker Account with Full Access privileges for the file(s).

Next, enter an encryption password and password hint, if you wish. Don’t lose this password! Close the Solution Options window and click Create.

Congratulations! Your database is now encrypted at rest!

In order to open any of the databases, you will be required to first enter the encryption password.

You also have the option to Remove Database Encryption. The process to remove encryption is just as straight-forward as adding it: Simply provide an account with full access credentials and the encryption password to reverse the process.

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Keep In Mind

  • FileMaker Server – You are still required to enter the encryption password when hosting with FileMaker Server. Luckily, unlike FileMaker Pro, you do have the option of saving the password.

  • Backups – They are encrypted whether they are created with FileMaker Server or FileMaker Pro.

  • Exporting Records – Records exported are always saved to a non-encrypted file.

  • Container Fields – All External Container Data in your files will be encrypted during the process. If you wish to leave your external container data unencrypted, choose Keep Open Storage option while specifying your Solution Options.

  • Shared ID – This can be used to add additional database files to the encrypted solution.Pro Tip: Decrypting and then encrypting the entire solution with the new file(s) added accomplishes the same goal.

  • Get(EncryptionState) – FileMaker 13 provides us with a new function to get the encryption state of a database. Along with the encryption state, it will also return the Shared ID of the encrypted database.

Encryption is a great new feature that gives you another level of security beyond a login. The files still appear as .fmp12 files, but require the encryption password to access.

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Michael Westendorf

Michael is a FileMaker Certified Developer who joins DB Services with nearly a decade of experience as an Information Technology Manager in the printing industry. Originally from San Diego, he moved to Iowa during his teens and earned his Bachelor's Degree in Management Information Systems from Iowa State University.