Just-in-time (JIT) access is a cybersecurity feature where users, applications, or systems are granted access to resources only when needed and for a limited time. This approach limits the risk of privileged accounts gaining unauthorized access to sensitive data. JIT access is often used in conjunction with other security measures—such as multi-factor authentication and encryption—to provide a strong, layered defense against threats.

How does JIT access work? 

JIT access involves three key elements: resources, duration, and actions.

  • The resources that need to be accessed.
  • The duration of the access and whether the user is entitled to access it during that specific time frame.
  • The action the user takes to accomplish privileged access.

The typical workflow for JIT access begins with a user requesting access to a resource, which is then evaluated by IT administrators against existing policies to determine if it can be approved. If access is granted, the user can complete their task and the privileged access is revoked after the stipulated time.

Why do organizations need JIT access?

  • Streamlines access workflows and increases operational efficiency. 

Automating the JIT access approval process can streamline the workflow for IT administrators and end users, without impacting productivity. IT admins no longer need to spend excessive time on review cycles, and users can be granted access promptly. This improves operational efficiency as privileged access requests can be approved remotely and automatically.

  • Ensures implementation of Zero Trust and the principle of least privilege. 

The JIT access approach helps organizations put the principles of least privilege and Zero Trust into practice. With JIT, no requests for privileged access are automatically trusted, and all are thoroughly verified before being granted. This ensures that only authorized personnel can access restricted data and resources, providing a high level of security.

  • Reduces the attack surface by eliminating standing privileges.

Standing privileged access can leave an organization vulnerable to internal and external threats. Implementing JIT privileged access helps mitigate these risks by granting access only when necessary and for a limited time, reducing the overall exposure of the network to potential cyberthreats. Additionally, JIT can prevent privilege escalation attempts and limit the potential for hackers to move laterally across the network and expand their malicious actions.

  • Provides a better cybersecurity posture.

JIT access control improves organizational security by limiting potential unauthorized access and blocking malware through dynamic privilege elevation. Access is granted only during specific hours, and dependent on specific tasks. Only approved application privileges are elevated, reducing threats from exploited standing privileges and minimizing the attack surface for malicious users. After the stipulated time, the privileged account is disabled and privileges expire, further improving the security posture.

  • Enhances privileged account management.

By implementing JIT access, the duration of elevated privileges and access rights for an account is minimal, limiting the opportunity for threat actors to exploit these privileges. This approach promotes the implementation of a true least-privilege model across the entire organization, and helps defend against lateral movement attacks by eliminating “always-on” privileged accounts.

  • Improves compliance and auditing.

JIT access enforces the principle of least privilege, removes standing privileges, and provides a granular view of privileged accounts. This ensures an accurate audit perspective, which is essential for proper management of privileged accounts as per compliance regulations such as the GDPR and ISO/IEC 27001:2013.

Implement JIT access with ADManager Plus

Using ManageEngine ADManager Plus, IT admins can grant users time-based access to groups and set up automation policies to add and remove users from a group after a predetermined period. This helps IT admins manage temporary user access quickly and efficiently, without having to provide standing privileges, and helps maintain security.

IT admins can use automation policies to grant granular access to specific folders, by setting up permissions for a specific time. This provides greater control over who can access certain folders and for how long, helping to ensure the security of confidential files and data.

To check out the JIT access capabilities ADManager Plus has, download ADManager Plus here. You can also schedule a free, personalized demo to discover more, and receive answers to your product questions from one of our solution experts.