Be Wary of Hackers! PHI (Personal Health Information) is the Most Valuable Data on the Dark Web

In today’s elusive technology landscape, healthcare organizations face mounting pressure to secure their data. While they are the guardians of sensitive patient information that is highly valued on the black market, they must also facilitate quick, easy, and secure access to patient’s information, besides managing an ever-growing workforce with different sets of users who access systems and data, each with their own access needs and entitlements.

Healthcare IT professionals are tasked to protect their data and systems from external threats and internal access abuse while maintaining 24/7 system uptime. In trying to achieve this, they confront the following challenges:

Securing Patients’ PHI from Theft or Breach of Privacy

PHI is the most desired data for cybercriminals, as it has a strikingly high price value on the dark web. According to the 2019 Trustwave Global Security Report, a social security number would sell for $0.53, the details of a payment card at $5.40, while a single healthcare record at a whopping $250.15. PHI theft can lead to unnerving chaos for patients and intense stress for IT healthcare professionals.

Providing Secure Access

Providing Secure, Quick, and Appropriate Level of Access to Users

A major goal for healthcare is to manage the right level of access at the right time, which does not hinder efficient access to vital information, particularly in emergencies.

Ensuring regulatory compliance

Ensuring Regulatory Compliance

Regulations like HIPAA and HITECH strictly define the rules that healthcare organizations must comply with. Non-compliance may not only increase the chance of data infringement but the reputation loss and financial penalties can be prohibitive.

These challenges call for an integrated IAM solution that protects user identities, automates provisioning and de-provisioning across a diverse workforce. GroupID strengthens security, safeguards critical healthcare data from threats. It does it by automating who has access to what systems and when, and yields insights with extensive reporting.

How GroupID helps Healthcare Organizations


Healthcare organizations manage a highly fluid workforce, including employee-clinicians, affiliate-clinicians, interns, nurses, technicians, administrative staff, partners, and vendors. For each set of users, quick user onboarding and offboarding, seasonal staffing and transfers, along with providing individuals with access to the right systems and data, at the right time, and for the right duration, requires automation across identity and access-related processes.

GroupID integrates with Active Directory and Azure AD to enhance identity and access management for healthcare organizations.

Using GroupID, administrators can manage users, monitor accounts, and employ a robust group management system that adjusts role-based access in real-time, to control user access and privileges. With automated, well-timed user and group management, GroupID prevents criminal insiders and hackers from accessing your data.

With GroupID, healthcare IT can:

  • Increase productivity
  • Minimize risk
  • Safeguard access and permissions
  • Strengthen security
  • Reinforce audit and reporting requirements
  • Improve patient and staff experience

Increase Productivity: Automate Account Provisioning and User Lifecycle Management

At most times, hospital staff and IT teams are inundated with creating and updating user records, particularly patient data. Aligning these records manually across databases, files, and directories is a daunting task.

Delays and errors in user management and data handling potentially lead to increased patient wait times, dissatisfied staff, and poor productivity. To increase efficiency and expedite patient management, healthcare IT must process data quickly; provision patients, employees, and other users across systems in good time; and centralize patient records

GroupID improves productivity as it:

  • Auto-syncs user accounts and info across applications and systems, with a data source and destination specified for data sync. GroupID employs scheduled jobs that, for example, provision patient accounts in an SQL database from an MS Excel spreadsheet or employee accounts in the directory from an HR database. Auto-creating user accounts across systems with preconfigured jobs essentially eliminates delays, wipes out errors, and shields from data breaches.
  • Regulates identity change management within an organization with minimal dependence on the administrative staff and IT team, as it empowers patients, employees, and partners to update their profile information on their own. Distributed workloads promote productivity while up-to-date user info fens off frauds and forged identities.
  • Saves patients, employees, and business associates from the frustration of expired passwords and locked accounts by sending out password expiry notifications well before time. This also relieves the helpdesk from an inflow of password reset and account unlock requests.

Minimize Risk

Contributing to the vulnerability of healthcare data is the urgency for doctors and hospital staff to access patient files on the fly, without time to wait for an access request to be approved. This risk is augmented with the need to share information across devices with partners and third-party vendors. Data sensitivity and associated risks necessitate IT to keep their systems, user profiles, groups, and permissions always up-to-date; and know who has access to what data and resources.

GroupID helps you to:


Deprovision user accounts, including employee and patient accounts, from systems, such as medical databases, billing systems, and Active Directory, when they dissociate with your organization. This is critical to revoking user access and addressing security risks that surface when unused accounts remain a part of the system.

Identify unusual changes to directory group memberships and alert group owners to review and approve them. Knowing that groups manage access to critical resources, prompt action can readily avert data exfiltration and PHI leakage attempts.

Spot Anomalies

Spot anomalies in data access patterns and deny access to rule out chances of data extrusion and theft.

Assign Temporary Owners

Assign temporary owners to groups and temporary managers to users for time-bound projects. As temporary owners automatically lose access after a specified time, IT can rest assured that users have access to the right data for just the right time.

Safeguard Access and Permissions

The number of users interacting with healthcare data involves several types of identities, including end-users, privileged users, patients, devices, and applications. There is a need to sort these entities into relevant groups as soon as they are created or updated in the directory so that they have role-based access to just the minimum required resources to perform their jobs.

GroupID brings powerful group management functions that leverage user attributes to add and remove users to groups, in keeping with their roles and responsibilities. This closes threatening opportunities without compromising necessary access.

GroupID helps in ways, such as:

Query Based

GroupID introduces query-based groups, where directory objects fetched by the query are added to group memberships. Scheduled membership updates automatically add and remove objects from group memberships based on attribute changes. The result – only relevant users remain in groups and exercise the access those groups govern. This prevents the wrong people from accessing PHI and the right people from leaking it by accident.

Group attestation streamlines your efforts to affirm that only needful groups exist in the directory. IT administrators can enforce group owners to verify the memberships, permissions, and attributes of groups periodically, with an intent to control access to PHI, financial data, and other forms of records maintained at the organization.

Groups should not live forever, as projects and tasks continue to evolve. Set group expiration policies that align with real-life schedules to secure data from unnecessary access once the need is over.

Set temporary group owners and members to curtail excessive access. Measures such as these discourage users from engaging in malicious activities that can cause irreversible damage to the organization.

Strengthen Security

The number of users interacting with healthcare data involves several types of identities, including end-users, privileged users, patients, devices, and applications. There is a need to sort these entities into relevant groups as soon as they are created or updated in the directory so that they have role-based access to just the minimum required resources to perform their jobs.

GroupID brings powerful group management functions that leverage user attributes to add and remove users to groups, in keeping with their roles and responsibilities. This closes threatening opportunities without compromising necessary access.

GroupID helps in ways, such as:

Implement multi-factor authentication

Implement multi-factor authentication to verify users when they attempt to update profiles, passwords, groups, and other info. IT administrators are also subjected to stringent verification checks when they access the directory to manipulate objects.

Enforce strong password policies

Enforce strong password policies that shield against an array of attacks, especially when automated password-guessing bots are becoming more common. GroupID lets admins control passwords through regular expressions, prohibited password lists, minimum password requirement checks, and more.

Notify administrators

Notify administrators and users on events around user profile changes, group membership, ownership, and attributes update; and helpdesk tickets opening, so that they can verify the info for correctness.

Contain ransomware and phishing attempts by defining email policies

Contain ransomware and phishing attempts by defining email policies, such as limiting users who can send email to distribution lists, applying size limits to incoming messages; and authenticating senders who send email to groups in your directory. This may also help in blocking the unauthorized transfer of PHI through email.

Sync directory

Sync the directory with different systems used in the organization in a matter of minutes. Once user attributes are current, GroupID uses them to auto-updates group memberships. Since groups govern access to resources, GroupID ensures that doctors, nurses, technicians, lab staff, and patients always have the right access, especially when their role changes. Hence, it guarantees greater security and protection.

Auto-expire and delete unused groups

Auto-expire and delete unused groups, so that they cannot be exploited to gain access to an organization’s network with all their access intact.

Establish a guided helpdesk verification process

Establish a guided helpdesk verification process that involves multi-factor authentication to verify a user’s identity before complying with account and password management requests.

Take periodic database backups to counter data loss

Take periodic database backups to counter data loss.

Reinforce Audit and Reporting Requirements

The healthcare sector has a tough job meeting the regulatory mandate, such as HIPAA and HITECH, to avoid penalties and retain credibility. Healthcare organizations must cultivate audit and governance capabilities that help identify threats, manage risk, and comply with regulations.

GroupID allows healthcare organizations to:

Monitor and track

Monitor and track changes made to users, groups, and other objects in Active Directory and Azure AD.

View reports

View reports on access and entitlements, such as effective NTFS permissions assigned to objects. This kind of reporting is vital, as file and folder shares are the primary targets for ransomware.

Define workflows

Define workflows that authorize administrators to approve changes that users make to objects in the directory. As your directory is the hub for user and group management, data accuracy checks immune the directory against hacks.

Gain insights

Gain insights into your directory by viewing detailed reports on users, groups, computers, and other objects in Active Directory, Azure AD, Exchange, and Microsoft 365. Schedule reports to be auto-generated, so you can rely on the latest stats to assess the state of your directory.

Track access

Track access to your organization’s classified data and your patient’s confidential medical and personal information by knowing the level of access your users and groups enjoy on files and folders.

Improve Patient and Staff Experience

Improve trust and patient experience by automating repetitive processes and accelerating administrative tasks. Enhance user comfort by augmenting your digital capabilities with mobile-based apps.

Using GroupID, you can:

Create custom self-service portals

Create custom self-service portals for employees, patients, and business partners based on their requirements, where they can access a multitude of functions, like managing their profiles, viewing and updating patient records, password resets, and communication preferences. Provide support to your users from within the portal for a seamless experience.

Enhance employee and patient comfort with mobile apps

Enhance employee and patient comfort with mobile apps that let them update their profiles, manage workflows, view records, and take hold of their groups – anytime, anywhere.