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What is Just in Time Access (JIT)? Definition, Examples and Benefits

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What is Just in Time Access (JIT)? Definition, Examples and Benefits

Just-in-time (JIT) access is a security practice where users are only granted access to applications or systems for predetermined periods of time, on an as-needed basis. This helps to minimize over permission, standing privileges, and other provisioning risks by ensuring that only the necessary level of access is granted to a user.

Key Takeaways

  • Just In Time (JIT) access — provides users with limited access when requested, and only for as long as it is necessary
  • By automating the provisioning of access, users can quickly gain access to what they need without going through a lengthy approval process that slows down productivity.
  • To maintain the principle of least privilege in a Zero Trust framework, just-in-time access is essential.

What is JIT access?

JIT access is a security strategy used by organizations to provide users temporary elevated and restricted permissions when they need it and only as long as they require it. This gives organizations a secure way of controlling privileged access through time and resource limiting.

JIT access is based on the principle of least privilege that seeks to reduce the risks caused by birthright access or standing privileges, which give users unlimited access to accounts, applications, and resources for which they’ve been previously authorized. The idea is the more access, the greater the risk of a threat actor stealing credentials and getting into the network. JIT cuts down on how long access is open, and in turn, reduces the risk from credential theft. And if the credentials are stolen, it minimizes the impact of bad actors.

By automating access provisioning, users can quickly gain access to what they need without going through a lengthy approval process that slows down productivity. JIT controls allow for granular dynamic access policies based on the sensitivity of the app or system. It also allows an auditable record of every entitlement request.

Examples of different types of JIT access controls:

  • Broker and remove access/ Justification-based access: This JIT control requires that users explain their need for privileged access. Once approved, users gain limited access to resources for a set period of time. The credentials for these accounts are managed and rotated in a centralized vault, and users are not made aware of them even after using them to reduce the risk of privilege abuse.
  • Ephemeral accounts: This JIT control is connected to one-time use accounts. An account is created specifically to give the user temporary access to complete a specific task. This type of JIT access works well with third-party contractors and vendors who have a short-term assignment and once completed, the account is disabled and deleted.
  • Temporary elevation/Privilege elevation: For this JIT control, the user requests temporary access, elevating their privileges out of the norm so the user can complete a task. As soon as the task is complete or the designated amount of time privilege is assigned has ended, access is removed.

Benefits of JIT Access:

Achieve least privilege

Just-in-time access is essential to maintaining the principle of least privilege access as part of the Zero Trust framework. The principle of least privilege access is the idea that organizations should limit the number of identities with access to networks, applications, data, programs, and processes to only those who require access. Organizations are able to execute the principle of least privilege access through the use of JIT access policies that ensure users who only require occasional or situational root access and should work with reduced or lesser privileges the rest of the time.

Improved security

Organizations that implement JIT access reduce their risk of identity based attacks and access vulnerabilities by eliminating the the threat caused by standing privilege. They can move away from birthright access by replacing it with JIT access, ensuring a more secure organization while providing the right people the right access to the right data at the right time.

Save time

While restricting access may ensure better security, it should not hinder workforce productivity. That is why automation is so key in allowing a strong security posture while enabling an agile workforce. Through automated access requests and workflows, organizations are able to provide JIT access while reducing manual effort and user friction. Automation not only saves time but reduced the risk of human error, further strengthening an organization’s security.

Achieve compliance and improve audit readiness

JIT access controls can help better streamline the compliance & audit process. Through JIT access controls, companies gain visibility of critical access changes in real time and an audible trail of privileged access: who requested access, why it was requested, who approved access, and how and when access was provisioned. They are notified of changes to sensitive access