Encryption of Data at Rest and in Transit

The information below is provided as a resource when making encryption decisions related to Computer Security.

Open Dental does not provide technical support for encryption. Instead, consult an IT professional.

Encryption of data prevents unauthorized users from viewing data (PHI) when there is a data breach (e.g., hacking, theft, or loss of data). HIPAA does not require encryption of data, however, it is recommended. If there is a data breach, practices that have encrypted their data can qualify for Safe Harbor (patient notification may not be necessary or as difficult, see Breach Notification Rule below). Practices that have not encrypted the data must inform every patient that medical records have been compromised, and in some circumstances, notify the media.

Encryption plans need to include data at rest and in transit, as well as any other PHI that are stored on your systems. Documenting your data security policy is very important, as the burden of proof may rest upon you if there is a data breach.

Encryption of Stored Data (at rest)

Your encryption plan needs to include the data that is stored by Open Dental.

Below are two options for encrypting stored patient data.

Encryption of Data in transit

Data in transit refers to data that is moved from one place to another and therefore could be intercepted by someone else. This includes data that is transported across a network or stored on a removable storage device.

Removable storage device: Use hardware encryption (e.g., encrypted hardware drives, encrypted USB drives) or software encryption (e.g.,Bitlocker).

Data that is transported across a network: Open Dental does not move patient data off your network in any automated fashion. However, there are optional features that involve sending patient data to, or from, your Open Dental database.

Optional Open Dental Features:

Feature Encrypted? Encryption Method Other Details
E-Claims Yes Varies by clearinghouse. Communication of insurance claim information by Open Dental is always secure. Contact the clearinghouse to determine their method.
  • Some clearinghouses have Open Dental send the data via a secure HTTPS connection or SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol).
  • Many clearinghouses have Open Dental create the claim data locally on the client machine, then proprietary client uploads software that moves the data securely to their servers.
eRx (DoseSpot & NewCrop) Yes HTTPS over SSL
Open Dental Cloud Yes HTTP over SSL, LUKS drive encryption, SFTP, MFA
Plain Text Email No N/A Do not send PHI using regular plain text email. Do not include PHI when emailing Recalls or Confirmation reminders. Do not include PHI in manually composed emails.
Encrypted Email Yes It can be tedious to set up encrypted email and share public email keys with recipients ahead of time.
Secure Email Yes HTTPS over SSL via TLS 1.2
Webmail Yes HTTPS over SSL
eConnector Yes AES (formerly known as Rijndael) This applies to the communication between Open Dental's secure servers and your practice computers. Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a standardized encryption specification established by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and technology (NIST) that complies with the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) as set forward by the federal government in regard to security of data in transit. We use a 24 byte (192 bit) key, which falls well within the guidelines set by the federal government. Used for all eServices that require the eConnector.
eClipboard Yes HTTPS over SSL via TLS 1.2 eClipboard data is not stored on the device.
ODMobile Yes HTTPS over SSL via TLS 1.2 ODMobile data is stored on the device via SqlLite, which uses SHA512 encryption.
ODTouch Yes HTTPS over SSL via TLS 1.2 ODTouch data is not stored on the device.
Mobile Web Yes HTTPS over SSL via TLS 1.2 Mobile Web data is not stored on the device.
Patient Portal Yes HTTPS over SSL via TLS 1.2
Web Sched Yes HTTPS over SSL via TLS 1.2
Automated Messaging (eConfirmations, eReminders, Arrivals, etc.) Yes HTTPS over SSL via TLS 1.2
Integrated Texting No N/A Do not send PHI using text messaging. Do not include PHI when sending text message confirmations or when manually composing messages.
Web Forms Yes HTTPS over SSL
Payment Portal Yes HTTPS over SSL via TLS 1.3

If using Middle Tier, for external communication you must set up HTTPS over SSL.

Note: Mass Email, which is no longer offered, was not encrypted and treated the same as a plain text email.

Sending PHI via Email or Text Messages

In general, PHI should not be sent via plain text email or text message, even if using Open Dental for those communications. By default, Automated Messages do not send PHI, however you can manually compose messages that do include PHI. We do not recommend it.

To securely communicate with your patients, we recommend enabling Secure Email or using Secure Webmail via the Patient Portal.

If sending statements by email from Open Dental, use Secure Email or a secure third party.

Technical Details

Open Dental supports modern secure cryptographic protocols that provide communication security over computer networks. The browser interfaces for eServices utilize the Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.2 protocol as defined by RFC 5246 and further refined by RFC 6176 to remove backward compatibility with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) such that TLS sessions never negotiate the use of SSL version 2.0.

Secured data transmitted to and from customers and patients is and remains secure in transit.