Streamlining Access Control: The Role of Just-In-Time Access JIT in Modern Security

streamlining access control the role of just in time access jit in modern security

JIT access empowers organizations to fortify their cybersecurity posture and reduces lingering threats posed by always-on privileges. With JIT, privileged accounts are raised temporarily when a user genuinely needs them for a short-lived timeframe before getting automatically revoked after the task is complete.

Implementing JIT requires starting with high-risk accounts and situations first. These could include third-party contractor access, engineering teams, and ad hoc business use cases.

Time-Based Privileges

Using a JIT PAM solution, IT teams can create guidelines that require users to justify their need for access and specify how long they need privileges to perform tasks. This helps prevent users from logging in at other times and unintentionally changing resources or modifying files they shouldn’t have access to.

The temporary access token is automatically revoked once the user logs off or the short-lived period expires. This reduces the organization’s attack surface and eliminates the risk that users could accidentally or maliciously modify critical resources.

In addition, just in time access or JIT access enables organizations to implement an accurate least-privilege security model by eliminating standing privileges and allowing users to elevate their accounts on demand. This will enable users to perform basic troubleshooting or installing applications without having high-level administrator accounts.

While many enterprises struggle to balance robust access controls with operational agility, adopting JIT access is an essential first step in streamlining privileged access management for better security and improved productivity. A good JIT PAM approach also makes it easy for IT to deploy, test, and approve access quickly and efficiently to end-users, ensuring that they can perform their work with the right level of privilege and that only the necessary systems are accessed. This reduces the risk of unauthorized access and eliminates the need for manual, time-consuming processes that can result in mistakes and data breaches.

Privileged Access Management

The use of accounts with standing privileges presents significant security risks for organizations. Malicious hackers can use these accounts to gain unauthorized access to systems and data and move laterally into the network without detection. By implementing JIT access, organizations eliminate the risk of these accounts by granting users only the level of privileges they need for a short timeframe.

Using an automated PAM solution, this approach empowers IT teams to provide users with the necessary levels of privilege on demand. This enables them to elevate accounts based on the specific instance, server, or resource they need. Once the user completes their task and logs out, the privileges expire or are disabled for good. This eliminates privileged account vulnerabilities, helps prevent access breaches, and allows administrators to manage the account better through its lifecycle.

This model can be combined with a zero-trust design to reduce the threat surface further. In addition to eliminating standing privileges, this streamlined access management model provides centralized logging of all privileged access activities and a granular audit trail that simplifies compliance and security reviews for auditors. By combining this approach with policies like role-based access control and attribute-based access control, organizations can create an environment of true least privilege that is highly resilient against cyber threats. Removing all privileged accounts also simplifies password management, as there are no longer any persistent credentials that can be abused.

Cyber Threat Intelligence

An organization’s security posture is directly affected by its ability to detect cyber attacks, reduce their impact, and mitigate unauthorized data access. This is especially critical for cloud-based systems, where 45% of breaches occur. To protect against this threat, cybersecurity teams must balance robust access controls and operational agility.

This challenge is even more difficult for teams managing a mix of on-premises and cloud-based systems. A JIT access model can help them achieve this by reducing the attack surface and minimizing the risk of accidental or malicious access. The key is implementing dynamic access, which uses short-lived accounts and credentials for temporary privilege elevation that is instantly disabled or destroyed when the task is complete.

To implement JIT access, begin by identifying your network’s high-risk assets and vulnerabilities. This will allow you to prioritize the accounts that should be moved to this model and establish control policies. Once this is complete, you can start enabling JIT access for these accounts.

To avoid sacrificing productivity, you can streamline the JIT process by automating the approvals and providing a seamless workflow for system administrators and end-users. This will also help you minimize the time that an attacker has to move laterally through your system and reach sensitive data. To do this, you can use temporary credentials that are automatically rotated or generated and then stored in a secure vault on an automated basis.

Zero Trust

JIT access combines with Zero Trust fundamentals to enable true least privilege. A privileged account is enabled only when it’s needed for the limited timeframe required to complete the task. Then, that account is immediately revoked, and any further privileges suspended until the subsequent use. By implementing this security concept in conjunction with a PAM solution, you can reduce the number of standing accounts – eliminating high-risk accounts that cyber attackers may target – and improve the transparency and effectiveness of your cybersecurity system.

To make this security concept work, your IT team needs to implement granular policies that require users to justify their need for elevated access. They also need to establish procedures for granting privileged access on demand and how long that access should last. In addition, it’s essential to record and log all JIT access for transparent reporting and comprehensive auditing purposes.

Streamlining access control with JIT will significantly improve your ability to address vulnerabilities and reduce risk across the organization. However, it’s best to start with identifying high-risk accounts and their corresponding vulnerabilities and reorganizing your privileged access management system around those requirements. Once you’ve addressed these issues, your business can reap the benefits of this efficient security model.