5 Benefits of Implementing Just-in-Time Access Policies

Using JIT with Zero Standing Privileges (ZSP) allows you to eliminate security risks that can slip through the cracks of traditional PAM systems. These include the dangers of standing privileges, enabling attackers to move laterally across your network.

JIT reduces this risk by granting users access to accounts only as long as needed. This eliminates the risk of stealing account credentials and using them maliciously or by mistake.

Reduced Risk of Privileged Access Abuse

The most common cause of privileged access abuse is when users are given too many privileges to work effectively, and these permissions aren’t correctly revoked. This type of situation can occur when employees, contractors, and third parties are given privileged access, and their accounts don’t get revoked when they leave the company. Attackers can then use these privileged account credentials to gain access and attack the company.

When implementing just-in-time access policies, you create one-time or temporary accounts to give users the privileged access they need to perform tasks, but only for the duration of the study. Once the job is finished, the reports and their privileges are disabled or deleted. This reduces the time malicious actors can access critical systems and improves your organization’s security posture.

To achieve the benefits of Just-in-Time Access, implement granular policies that allow users to request eligible access and justify why they need it for a specific project. When the user activates their privileged access, they must also explain their actions with that access. This allows the system to immediately track if those actions violate policy and terminate suspicious sessions.

Reduced Risk of Cyberattacks

When users can access a privileged account for an unlimited timeframe, it opens the network to cyberattacks. Malicious attackers can steal passwords, exploit those privileges, and gain access to your data or business systems. This is why privileged access management is so important.

By implementing just-in-time access policies, you can eliminate standing privileges and reduce your organization’s risk of cyberattacks. Instead of allowing users to be “privilege-active” 168 hours a week, advanced PAM solutions with just-in-time access policies can significantly reduce that window by only granting elevated access for the timeframe needed to complete a specific task.

With JIT access, once a user completes a task, the account and all associated privileges will be disabled or expire. This will significantly improve your organization’s security posture. Plus, it will help reduce your risk of costly and reputation-damaging security breaches. These breaches may result in fines, lost customers, and legal fees. It only takes one compromised privileged account for a malicious attacker to cause untold damage to your organization and customer trust.

Increased Productivity

In the supply chain, Just-in-Time is an inventory management principle that reduces waste by ensuring that teams have the materials they need when they need them. This approach starkly contrasts the just-in-case model that requires companies to carry excess inventory if something goes wrong.

Similarly, when technical teams are interrupted by access issues, productivity suffers, and the organization is exposed to security breaches. Fortunately, streamlining access to critical systems can improve both outcomes.

Essentially, Just-in-Time Access (JIT) is an on-demand approach to privileged access that eliminates implicit trust and follows the principles of POLP and Zero Trust. With JIT, a user requests elevated access, and an administrator reviews the request and either grants or denies it. Then, an on-demand account with credentials is created for the duration of the privilege request and automatically revoked once the access window has expired. This approach also provides visibility into what users are doing in real-time. This is accomplished through features like a PAM solution’s “request access” capability and “checkout” functionality that rotates credentials or terminates accounts when the checkout period ends.

Increased Security

Implementing JIT access reduces the risk of standing privileges because users only have elevated access for as long as necessary, and then it’s automatically revoked. This eliminates the attack surface and prevents terrible actors from taking advantage of those elevated permissions to gain unauthorized access to critical data or systems.

JIT PAM also helps you enforce the Principle of Least Privilege (POLP) and Zero Trust policies across your entire IT environment because it doesn’t allow privileged accounts to remain active. Instead, a centralized system can automatically grant elevated access for only the time required for each task.

When you automate this process, it becomes possible to eliminate the need for privileged account management. This reduces the threat of a compromised privileged account and moves your organization closer to the Zero Trust design that most security regulations require. Furthermore, implementing JIT access helps you meet compliance requirements by providing accurate audit perspectives and granular views of all privileged access activities. Reducing the risks associated with select account abuse can strengthen your security posture without sacrificing productivity.

Increased Compliance

In addition to reducing the risk of privileged access abuse and other cyberattacks, implementing JIT access policies enables organizations to meet compliance standards. Many regulations, including FDDC, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and Government Connect, require the least privileged access to ensure data stewardship and systems security. Implementing JIT access policies can reduce the number of secret accounts, control select sessions, and provide accurate audit reports to support these compliance standards.

Privileged access management (PAM) solutions that utilize the JIT access model eliminate standing privileges by enabling users to request access for specific tasks and grant it only during work. This approach is a crucial Zero Trust principle and limits the window of opportunity for threat actors to exploit a system or network.

A PAM solution that offers dynamic, context-based access can also elevate privileges only when necessary and automatically revokes them once the task is complete. This eliminates the need for administrators to rotate credentials manually and provides a more practical approach to implementing the least privilege principle. This is why more and more organizations are adopting the JIT access model.