What is Just in Time Access? It’s Types and Benefits

Chinmay Panda

1st February, 2024


As SaaS app usage grows, managing access to critical infrastructure becomes complex for IT teams. Traditional controls struggle with temporary and time-sensitive access. Enter just-in-time access: a granular approach enhancing security and productivity while mitigating 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 when the user requests it, and it is automatically revoked after the allotted time or task completion. Let's explore more about it.

What is Just in Time Access?

Just-in-time access 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. Just-in-time privileged access management follows the principle of least privilege (PoLP), granting users limited access to accomplish specific tasks by eliminating standing privileges that hackers could exploit. 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.

How Does JIT Access Work?

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.

Key Components Of JIT Access Systems

Below are the key components that make up JIT Access Systems, a strong approach to access management:

  • Access Policies and Rules

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

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

Time-limited access tokens are central to JIT access systems. Users receive access tokens with a predefined expiration time when access is granted. 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.

3 Types Of JIT Access Approach

Let's briefly explore three types of just-in-time access:

1. Justification-based access control

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.

2. Ephemeral accounts

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.

3. Temporary elevation

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.

5 Crucial Benefits Of JIT Access

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.

1. Improves Security Posture

Just-in-Time (JIT) Access significantly enhances security posture 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.

2. Reduces Attack Surface

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.

3. Enhances Your Compliance & Auditing

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 strengthens the organization's security posture and helps demonstrate adherence to relevant regulations during audits and assessments.

4. Lowers Administrative Overhead

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.

5. Enables Effortless Collaboration

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. A need to share application access may arise during collaborative efforts across different teams.

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 Drawbacks Of Not Implementing Just-in-Time Access

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.

Enforcing Just-in-Time Access with Best Practices

To implement a robust just in time access methodology, the following best practices are crucial to ensure effective access management and bolster security:

  • Vulnerability Identification:

Start with a comprehensive vulnerability identification process to lay a solid groundwork for Just-in-Time Access. 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 manage access rights precisely 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, recording, and logging all JIT-privileged access in a central location is essential. 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.

Empower Just-in-Time Access with Zluri’s Access Management Solution

Zluri offers a Just-In-Time (JIT) access provisioning feature as part of its comprehensive access management solution. Just-In-Time access provisioning allows your organization to dynamically grant temporary access privileges to users for specific resources or tasks when needed, and revoke those privileges once the task is completed.

Zluri's access management platform offers a self-serve solution- which eliminates the traditional ticketing systems and efficiently manages just-in-time access requests. It 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.

Let’s see how Zluri helps with just-in-time access.

  • Efficient Onboarding and Offboarding: Zluri's access management streamlines the process of granting and revoking access to employees as they join or leave the organization. With just-in-time access, new hires can swiftly get the permissions they need without delays, ensuring they're productive from day one. Similarly, departing employees have their access promptly revoked, minimizing security risks.

  • Granular Access Control: Zluri 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 empowering your access control capabilities. Hence, Zluri streamlines the JIT access workflow, making life much more manageable for your IT team and employees alike.

  • Automated Provisioning and Deprovisioning: Zluri's automation capabilities facilitate the provisioning and deprovisioning of access rights. Just-in-time access ensures that permissions are granted dynamically as employees require them and revoked when they're no longer needed. This automation streamlines the process, eliminating manual errors and enhancing security.

  • Enhanced Security Compliance: Zluri helps organizations adhere to security compliance standards more effectively by providing just-in-time access. Access rights are granted on a need-to-know basis, reducing the risk of insider threats and ensuring compliance with regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS.

  • Audit Trail and Reporting: Zluri offers comprehensive audit trail and reporting features, allowing IT managers to track access activities in real-time. With just-in-time access, every access request and permission change is logged, providing visibility into who accessed what and when. This transparency enhances accountability and aids in security incident investigations.

  • Elevate Employee Experience: Zluri's seamless integration with HRMS, the approver has detailed information about the user identity, designation, etc., providing a 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.

So, don't wait any longer!

Experience the future of just-in-time access with Zluri.

Book Your FREE Personalized Demo Now!


1. What is just in time and just enough access?

Microsoft's online services employ a Just-In-Time (JIT) and Just-Enough-Access (JEA) framework. This model ensures that service team engineers are granted temporary privileged access to production environments only when necessary to support Microsoft online services.

2. How do you use just-in-time access?

  • Tailor to Your Audience: Initiate JIT inventory management by comprehensively understanding your target audience and their needs.

  • Strategic Supplier Selection: Carefully choose suppliers who align with your JIT strategy, ensuring seamless integration and reliable support.

  • Predictive Process Implementation: Establish predictive processes to anticipate demand and streamline inventory management, enhancing the effectiveness of your JIT approach.

  • Evaluate Your Tech Stack: Conduct a thorough assessment of your technology stack to ensure it aligns with JIT principles and supports the seamless implementation of this efficient inventory management strategy.

3. What is the just-in-time protocol?

Just-in-time provisioning, leveraging the SAML protocol, is an advanced method employed to automatically generate user accounts during their initial login to an application through an identity provider. This innovative approach eliminates the necessity for manual user provisioning or the creation of user accounts.

4. What is an example of just-in-time access?

Gartner's Zero Standing Privilege (ZSP) is a notable illustration of a just-in-time access model. This solution aligns with Zero Trust principles to address challenges in privileged access management.

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