Blue World Announces FileMaker Pro 5 Web Security Alert
May 1, 2000
Blue World Communications, Inc.–pioneers of the Web Data Engine(tm)–today
announced to customers, partners, vendors, Internet security regulators,
and the wider FileMaker Pro Web community that it has discovered at least
three serious security holes in the Web Companion provided in the FileMaker
Pro 5 product line. The security holes are a result of new XML and email
capabilities introduced in the FileMaker Pro 5 product line. The first
security hole permits anyone on the Internet to view all data contained in
any FileMaker Pro 5 Web Companion configured database made accessible on
the Internet, regardless of Web Database Security preferences set to deny
such access. The second security hole permits anyone on the Internet to use
the Web Companion’s email capabilities to send email with data contained in
any FileMaker Pro 5 Web Companion enabled database, regardless of Web
Database Security preferences set to deny such access. The third security
hole permits anyone on the Internet to use FileMaker Pro 5 Web Companion to
send anonymous or impersonated email.
The problems affect all organizations with Web sites that utilize FileMaker
Pro 5 Web Companion. The email problems can affect any organization that
hosts a mail server. FileMaker, Inc. has been notified.
The precise details of how to exploit these holes is minimized to prevent
compromising the integrity of all current Internet-accessible FileMaker Pro
5 databases and mail servers. However, details can be easily deduced by
referencing the FileMaker Pro 5 documentation and by consulting the
FileMaker XML Technology Overview white paper available via the FileMaker
XML Central Web site.
1. Anyone on the Internet can view all data in a FileMaker Pro 5 Web
accessible database regardless of Web Database Security preferences set to
deny such access.
With FileMaker Pro 5 it is possible to return data in XML format based upon
a request submitted by anyone on the Internet. The XML publishing
capabilities of the FileMaker Pro 5 Web Companion cannot be disabled
separately from the Web Companion. The XML publishing capabilities bypass
certain crucial aspects of FileMaker Pro 5 Web security allowing anyone on
the Web to view any data within a FileMaker Pro 5 database.
The hole allows anyone to view sensitive data contained within FileMaker
Pro 5 databases such as credit card numbers, passwords, employee records,
and trade secrets that are not intended for public access.
2. Anyone on the Internet can use the Web Companion’s email capabilities to
retrieve all data contained in any FileMaker Pro 5 Web Companion enabled
database regardless of Web Database Security preferences set to deny such
FileMaker Pro 5 Web Companion new email capabilities include the ability to
specify that any field in a database be used as the format for the body of
the email message. This new functionality can be accessed through a request
submitted by anyone on the Internet. The new email capabilities can be used
to bypass certain crucial aspects of FileMaker Pro 5 Web security allowing
anyone on the Web to send the contents of any database field via email to
themselves or a third party.
The hole makes it possible to access and rapidly distribute across the
Internet sensitive information stored in FileMaker Pro 5 databases not
intended for viewing by the general public.
3. Anyone on the Internet can use Web Companion’s email capabilities to
send anonymous or impersonated email thereby compromising the integrity of
any targeted mail server.
The hole allows anyone to anonymously flood email accounts and mask or
impersonate the true identity and source of the originating message making
it virtually impossible to trace the origin of malicious activity.
For example, anyone on the Web could access any organization’s FileMaker
Pro 5 powered Web site and submit a query that contains commands which
instruct the Web Companion to send an email from the president of the
organization instructing all employees not to show up to work. As the email
would originate from the organization’s own servers, it would be virtually
impossible to trace the true location of the perpetrator.
There are four potential solutions to close the security holes. The first
three require disabling portions of FileMaker Pro’s built-in Web Companion
or downgrading to a previous and safer version of FileMaker Pro. The final
solution entails using a third party product, such as Lasso Web Data
Engine, to protect FileMaker Pro 5 databases on the Web.
A. Disable the FileMaker Pro Web Companion. This disables the automatic XML
Publishing and email capabilities of FileMaker Pro 5.
B. Don’t use FileMaker Pro 5. Earlier versions of FileMaker Pro Web
Companion do not contain these security flaws.
C. Use FileMaker Pro access privileges rather than the Web Security
Database. (Note: This only addresses the first two security issues reported
here.) While FileMaker Pro access privileges seemingly offer a solution to
this problem, they do not provide certain important additional features
otherwise provided in the Web Security Database. As such, it is not a
viable option for Web developers who require specific Web-related security
D. Use Lasso Web Data Engine as a secure proxy to FileMaker Pro 5 Web
Companion. Configure FileMaker Pro Web Companion to limit access to the IP
address of the machine on which Lasso is installed. You can then safely use
Lasso security to protect your FileMaker Pro 5 databases.
Blue World Policy on Security Alerts
Blue World notifies customers, partners, and vendors as quickly as possible
regarding any problems pertaining to the secure use of Blue World products
either as they exist unto themselves or when used in combination with other
products. Blue World strives to deliver appropriate information so the
seriousness of any security related problem is clearly understood and
widely known in an effort to best serve all those potentially affected by
security issues. As appropriate, Blue World will limit the amount of
detailed information revealed so as to not potentially compromise the
integrity of currently deployed and publicly accessible solutions based
upon any vendors’ products, including those vendors’ products which
directly compromise the security of any solution built using Blue World
Additional information is not available from Blue World. FileMaker, Inc.
can be contacted via contacts listed on the FileMaker, Inc. Web site at
http://www.filemaker.com. Interested parties who wish to discover how the
FileMaker Pro community reacts to this issue are cordially invited to join
the Blue World FileMaker Pro Talk email discussion forum, details provided
at http://www.blueworld.com/blueworld/lists/filemaker.html. An archive
containing all posts to FileMaker Pro Talk may be found at
About Blue World
Blue World Communications, Inc. (http://www.blueworld.com) delivers
cross-platform software tools allowing Web developers and designers to
quickly build and deploy powerful data-driven Web applications. Blue World
provides Lasso Web Data Engine, Lasso Studio for Dreamweaver, Blue World
Store and Blue World ListSearch service in fulfillment of its mission to
bring business to the Internet.