1st August, 2023
TABLE OF CONTENTS
With the increased usage of SaaS apps, the task of managing access to critical infrastructure becomes increasingly complex for IT teams. Traditional access controls have limitations in offering temporary and time-sensitive access. This is where just-in-time (JIT) access comes into play, bridging the gap.
JIT access empowers IT teams to provide access precisely when needed, preventing access breaches and efficiently handling short-term and ad-hoc access requirements. This granular approach enhances security and productivity while reducing potential risks in the enterprise environment.
Just-in-Time Access (JIT Access) is an approach to granting temporary and time-limited access rights to users only when needed and for the specific tasks they are required to perform. This access is provided on-demand, right at the moment when the user requests it, and it is automatically revoked after the allotted time or task completion.
It is a crucial component of privileged access management (PAM), designed to manage user, application, or system access privileges for a specific duration only when necessary. By eliminating standing privileges that hackers could exploit, JIT access follows the principle of least privilege (PoLP), granting users limited access to accomplish specific tasks. This approach prevents access or privilege creep, thus reducing unrestricted access within a network.
JIT access helps organizations give users access to privileged accounts and resources only when they actually need it, and not all the time. Instead of always granting access, JIT access limits it to a specific timeframe. This way, it reduces the risk of cyber attackers or insiders misusing privileged accounts and gaining unauthorized access to sensitive data.
Since access is time-sensitive, your IT team can apply JIT access universally, ensuring no user retains permanent privileges. The aim is to minimize the number of users with unrestricted access, as this can become a convenient target for compromise.
Notably, admin access is a prime target for hackers who employ social engineering techniques to bypass security measures and gain administrative privileges. To address such risks, JIT access rules are vital in effectively managing potential security threats.
Now, let's explore how JIT Access works and understand its inner workings.
Just-in-Time (JIT) access addresses three key aspects: location, time, and actions. Location pertains to where a user needs access, time determines the duration and eligibility for access during that specific timeframe, and actions specify what the user intends to do with the privileged access.
In a typical JIT access workflow, a user requests access to a specific instance, network device, server, or virtual machine. The request is then evaluated based on existing policies, or administrators decide whether to grant or deny access. Once granted, the user performs their task within the designated short-lived timeframe and then logs off.
After completion, the previously enabled privileged access is automatically revoked until it is required again in the future. This systematic approach ensures optimal security and efficient access management for your organization.
Below are the key components that make up JIT Access Systems, a strong approach to access management:
Access policies and rules form the foundation of JIT Access systems. These predefined guidelines determine the conditions under which users can request access to specific resources. These policies help ensure access is granted only to authorized individuals and for appropriate purposes, aligning with the organization's security requirements.
Identity verification mechanisms play a vital role in JIT Access systems. Before granting access, these mechanisms verify the user's identity requesting access. This step ensures that only legitimate users with the proper authentication credentials are allowed entry, preventing unauthorized individuals from gaining access to sensitive resources.
Time-limited access tokens are central to JIT Access systems. When access is granted, users receive access tokens with a predefined expiration time. These tokens act as temporary access passes, enabling users to perform their tasks within the specified timeframe. Once the access period expires, the tokens become invalid, automatically revoking the access and minimizing the risk of lingering privileges.
By combining these key components, JIT Access systems provide organizations with a robust and dynamic approach to access management, bolstering security and streamlining user interactions with critical resources.
Let's briefly explore three types of just-in-time access:
This JIT type, also known as The Broker and Remove access approach, allows the creation of policies where users must provide a reason for requesting privileged access. In other words, they need to justify why they require those special permissions. The passwords for these accounts are securely stored in a centralized vault for added protection.
In contrast to the first type of JIT permission described, the second type is known as the "temporary accounts" or "zero-standing privilege" approach. These accounts are established and activated based on specific needs, often referred to as "one-time accounts." Essentially, they are created for temporary usage and are deactivated, disabled, or deleted once their purpose is fulfilled or the task is completed. This ensures that the privileged access is granted only for the necessary duration and minimizes the risk of unnecessary and lingering privileges.
Temporary elevation involves raising privileges on a by-request basis. Users are granted privileged access under two conditions: when they genuinely need it and only for a limited duration. Once the specified period expires, the privileged access is automatically revoked, ensuring access is only available when necessary and reducing any lingering security risks.
understanding these various types of JIT Access provides you with the tools and insights to make informed decisions about your access management strategies.
Let's dive into the benefits of JIT Access and understand how it empowers organizations to fortify their cybersecurity posture while ensuring agile and streamlined access controls.
Just-in-Time (JIT) Access significantly enhances security by providing temporary access only when required. This ensures that privileged access is granted precisely when needed and reduces the window of opportunity for potential security breaches.
Just-in-Time Privileged Access Management (JIT PAM) empowers your IT admins to grant contractors and application vendors time-bound access to systems. By utilizing JIT PAM, organizations can create one-time accounts or provide third parties with temporary privilege elevation. This enables them to perform specific tasks like testing, troubleshooting, and maintenance within a controlled and limited timeframe.
JIT Access minimizes the attack surface through time-limited and on-demand access privileges. This proactive approach effectively mitigates the risk of unauthorized access and potential exploitation by cyber attackers.
Consequently, it strengthens your organization's security posture by significantly reducing threats posed by standing privileges. Malicious users often target privileged accounts, creating potential security risks. However, with JIT access, privileged accounts are promptly disabled once a user completes their task, expiring the privileges and enhancing overall security.
JIT Access also leads to enhanced compliance and auditing capabilities. By implementing time-limited and on-demand access controls, organizations can ensure that access privileges are granted only when required, aligning with regulatory requirements and industry standards. The automated provisioning and revocation of access tokens provide a clear audit trail, facilitating easy monitoring and tracking of privileged access activities.
Just-in-time access eliminates standing privileges, providing centralized logging of privileged-access activities and granular audit trails, simplifying audits and enhancing overall security. This heightened level of compliance and auditing not only strengthens the organization's security posture but also helps demonstrate adherence to relevant regulations during audits and assessments.
JIT Access simplifies access management to various resources within your organization. As a result, the administrative burden is reduced significantly. Automated provisioning and revocation of access tokens lead to more efficient access controls, freeing up resources for other critical tasks.
The system automatically grants users temporary access tokens for the specified timeframe when they require access. Once the access period expires or the task is completed, the tokens are automatically revoked, ensuring privileged access is granted only when necessary.
This automation minimizes the need for manual intervention, freeing up valuable time and resources for IT teams. As a result, they can focus on more critical tasks and strategic initiatives, increasing overall productivity and efficiency within the organization. JIT Access proves to be a valuable tool in streamlining access management, optimizing resource utilization, and enhancing the overall performance of the IT department.
Just-in-Time (JIT) Access fosters seamless collaboration within your organization. By configuring user devices based on role-based context and whitelist access, users are granted access only to the specific apps necessary for their tasks. During collaborative efforts across different teams, a need to share application access may arise.
JIT Access facilitates this process by providing temporary access to all relevant apps associated with the user's devices, supporting effective cooperation for a limited duration. This dynamic access management ensures efficient teamwork while maintaining security and control over privileged resources.
The absence of just-in-time access support poses significant challenges for security teams in balancing security and productivity. On the one hand, they must ensure that access to critical systems and data is restricted to authorized users to prevent security incidents and data breaches. On the other hand, they also need to ensure that legitimate users have access to the resources necessary for their roles, calling for a delicate balance between robust access controls and operational agility.
The lack of just-in-time access support can lead to several adverse effects:
Reduced Productivity: Delayed access provisioning can slow down productivity and hinder efficiency as users have to wait for access to be granted.
Increased Error Risks: Manual access provisioning may result in errors and inconsistencies, elevating the risk of security breaches.
Employee Frustration: Employees facing access limitations can become frustrated, leading to low morale and reduced job satisfaction.
Heightened Security Risks: Granting access for extended periods or to the wrong users can increase security risks and the likelihood of data breaches.
To avoid these negative impacts, adopting just-in-time access solutions is essential for organizations aiming to strike a harmonious balance between security and operational efficiency.
To implement a robust JIT Access methodology, the following steps are crucial to ensure effective access management and bolster security:
To lay a solid groundwork for Just-in-Time Access, start with a comprehensive vulnerability identification process. Conduct an extensive asset inventory to identify your network's critical assets and potential vulnerabilities. This analysis helps prioritize high-risk areas, enabling targeted and effective JIT implementation.
Synergy with RBAC and ABAC Policies:
Maximize the efficacy of access control measures by integrating Just-in-Time Access with Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) and Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC) policies. This strategic combination empowers organizations with enhanced control and visibility over users' system access.
RBAC ensures that users are granted access based on their roles and responsibilities, while ABAC takes into account various attributes and contexts to make precise authorization decisions. By aligning these policies with JIT Access, organizations can enforce dynamic and context-aware access control, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access and bolstering overall security.
Granular Policies with User Justification:
Implementing granular access policies with user justifications is vital to tailor access privileges effectively. Users requesting privileged access to specific resources for a defined timeframe should provide a clear justification. This ensures access is granted only when necessary, reducing the potential for unnecessary standing privileges.
Granular policies enable your IT team to precisely manage access rights and align them with specific tasks or projects, enhancing security while granting flexibility to users as needed. By enforcing this practice, organizations can achieve fine-grained control over access and maintain a detailed audit trail for compliance and monitoring purposes.
Record and Log JIT Privileged Access:
To ensure clear reporting and comprehensive auditing, it is essential to record and log all JIT privileged access in a central location. Organizations can monitor and track privileged activities by maintaining detailed access logs, facilitating incident response, compliance adherence, and security analysis.
Leverage PAM with JIT Implementation:
Opt for an automated Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution that already incorporates the JIT concept. Using such a PAM solution allows users to gain access for a specified duration only when needed during a privileged session.
Creating separate JIT accounts could lead to complexities and maintenance challenges in the long run. A PAM solution with built-in just-in-time access efficiently addresses this concern, streamlining access management and bolstering security.
Extend Your Cybersecurity Suite:
While Just-in-Time Access significantly improves security, relying solely on one solution may not suffice in today's ever-evolving threat landscape. Expanding your cybersecurity suite with complementary tools, such as unified threat management, provides comprehensive coverage against diverse threats.
A robust suite of cybersecurity solutions strengthens your organization's defenses and ensures a multi-layered approach to safeguarding critical assets and data.
By implementing these additional best practices, organizations can optimize their Just-in-Time Access strategy, ensuring effective privileged access management, enhanced security, and resilience against a wide range of cyber threats.
Beyond these best practices, if you're looking for a platform that fully supports Just-in-Time Access, let me introduce you to Zluri.
Organizations encounter a pressing challenge in efficiently managing access to critical resources while maintaining robust security measures. Traditional access control methods often lead to administrative overhead and standing privileges, leaving organizations vulnerable to potential security risks. However, with Zluri's Identity Governance and Administration (IGA) solution, your IT teams can unlock the power of Just-in-Time (JIT) Access to address these challenges effectively.
Its IGA platform offers an Employee App Store (EAS) solution- which eliminates the traditional ticketing systems and efficiently manages Just-in-Time (JIT) access requests. Basically, EAS is a curated collection of SaaS apps pre-approved by IT teams. It empowers employees to effortlessly search for and request Just-in-Time access to the specific apps they need.
Users can make instant access requests through an intuitive web portal, ensuring quick and seamless access to the necessary tools. It offers a user-friendly interface that lets employees keep track of their access requests, enabling them to stay informed about the progress of their requests.
EAS significantly enhances the Just-in-Time (JIT) access process, streamlining and optimizing employee access. Once an access request is submitted, the designated approver, whether an IT admin or a higher-level authority, is promptly notified.
Due to Zluri’s seamless integration with HRMS, the approver has detailed information about the user identity, their designation, etc, providing a clear and comprehensive view of access requirements and their context. They quickly verify the employee's identity and grant secure access, minimizing waiting times and elevating the overall employee experience.
The system ensures that employees receive access only to the apps they genuinely need, aligning with the principle of least privilege. Upon approval, licenses are automatically assigned to the requester, reducing friction and simplifying the IT management process. Hence, Zluri's Employee App Store streamlines the JIT access workflow, making life much more manageable for IT teams and employees alike.
Moreover, EAS provides IT teams with full control over the apps available to employees. The admin can customize the app store, selecting which apps are shown to employees. They can also manage the type of apps visible (managed, unmanaged, or restricted) and control the display of compliances, insights, security details, features, and recommendations for employees. Zluri offers view controls for admins to manage the information displayed about each app in the store.
Let's explore its Approval Process in a bit of detail:
Zluri provides a 3-level hierarchy of approval involving application owners, reporting managers, and IT admins. Higher authorities have the ability to override decisions made at lower levels in the approval process. Decision-makers who reject requests can add comments to provide transparency in the SaaS approval process.
Approvers also have the flexibility to modify specific requests. For instance, if an employee requests access to a certain project management tool, the approvers can modify the requested access level from "Admin" to "User" during the approval process. This capability allows for fine-tuning access privileges to align with the actual requirements of the user and ensures efficient access management.
Through the changelog feature, employees can easily track updates on all their requests. This includes information such as the approval or rejection of requests, changes in the duration or tier of licenses, and any comments added by administrators. The changelog provides transparency and clarity to the employees regarding the status and history of their access requests.
By implementing Zluri's Employee App Store, IT teams are relieved from the burden of numerous app requests. Conversely, employees no longer have to endure long waiting periods to access the SaaS apps they require.
The efficient approval process ensures swift access to approved apps, eliminating delays and allowing employees to get just-in-time access and start using the apps immediately after approval. This improved workflow benefits your organization and its workforce, fostering productivity and efficiency.
So, don't wait any longer!
Experience the future of just-in-time access with Zluri.
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