Enhancing Compliance With Just-in-Time Access Management

July 11, 2023

Unlike basic PAM practices that rely on privileged access accounts being always on, JIT enables a secure work environment by granting users privileges only when required. This granular approach eliminates the window of vulnerability for cyber attackers to move laterally across the system.

Enhanced Security

In today’s security landscape, powerful, privileged accounts with always-on privilege access proliferate across enterprises. This is known as a “standing privilege” and presents a considerable attack surface for threat actors to exploit, whether for good or evil. Unlike traditional PAM solutions, which leave privileged accounts with privileges active 24x7,  just in time access allows temporary privileged accounts to be granted based on need and only for as long as the account is needed. As a result, a significant portion of your organization’s security risks can be eliminated. For example, a developer needing elevated access for a short window to support DevOps workflows can create a vault to store credentials revoked after the task is completed. This significantly reduced the risk of those credentials being stolen by threat actors and used to move laterally around your network ecosystem maliciously or accidentally.

Additionally, the ephemeral nature of these accounts means that they are unknown to users even after use, making it difficult for attackers to leverage compromised credentials for lateral movement. By implementing JIT, you can take the principles of least privilege to a new level, reducing your organization’s exposure to security risks and maintaining compliance with regulatory standards.

Enhanced Compliance

With the growth of digital transformation, users’ access requirements are constantly evolving. This makes it difficult for businesses to keep up with the need to elevate privileges. However, using a Just-in-Time privileged access management (PAM) practice eliminates the risk of granting users more privileges than they need. This allows security teams to apply the principle of least privilege, reduce risk and eliminate standing accounts that cause so many cybersecurity incidents. For example, contractors and freelancers often need temporary access to specific applications. This may be to complete a project or support an IT department. Instead of including these individuals in a permanent policy, creating a just-in-time access policy will allow them to self-elevate for a specific duration. It will automatically rotate credentials when the period is up. In addition, Just-in-Time access makes it easier to follow best PAM practices and meet compliance requirements. It’s important to note that implementing the principle of least privilege and eliminating standing privileged account permissions is a requirement for many major compliance regulations.

Furthermore, implementing JIT access will enable you to monitor better and report on user activity, which is essential for demonstrating your organization’s compliance status. This will help you avoid gaps that could lead to expensive fines. As a result, it’s essential to find the right balance between security and efficiency for your business needs.

Enhanced Efficiency

Implementing JIT access requires an organization to shift away from the previous model of privileged account management. However, implementing this new approach can be challenging for teams and their users because it often means transitioning from having standing privileges to only granting temporary access. JIT access improves operational efficiency by eliminating the need for administrators to approve access requests or wait for a user to log on and log off, thus preventing disruptions in productivity. In addition, with the ability to create a time-based permissions window, administrators can set access rights for a specific amount of time. This way, access is only granted when the user needs it, and once the user completes their work, the privileges are revoked until the subsequent privilege elevation request. In addition, using a JIT system for privileged account management helps to strengthen security by eliminating unused accounts. Reducing the number of accounts with standing privileges mitigates threats from attackers who may attempt to steal passwords or gain access through lateral movement attacks. Using a JIT privileged access management solution that integrates with a centralized secret vault also makes it easy for IT to rotate credentials and secrets, ensuring that only the most up-to-date information is accessible to users.

Enhanced Flexibility

Many companies embrace the notion of flexible working but need help to make it work for their teams. It’s not surprising since the definition of flexibility varies from company to company and even within departments. Some rely on accommodation, while others lean toward boundarylessness and work-from-home policies. Either way, this flexibility requires a shift away from old narratives and improved tools to help employees work how and when they do best without straining the business and creating security risks. One solution is eliminating all standing access accounts and enabling users to commit to higher privileges per request. This more secure approach reduces the risk of attackers stealing passwords from permanent accounts or bypassing security controls by social engineering. It also supports the Principle of Least Privilege and Zero Trust policies, which prevent the creation of privilege creeps into the network.

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