Privileged access management solutions that use Just-in-Time can mitigate risks by reducing the attack surface. This can help to eliminate the problems of over-privileged accounts and accounts that remain active for too long.
A real risk in many enterprises stems from granting permanent privileges or “standing” access to privileged user accounts. With these permissions always active, a threat actor can exploit those rights, gain valuable intelligence, or potentially breach the enterprise’s environment. JIT PAM cuts the time these account privileges remain vulnerable by enabling access only when needed and for the shortest possible timeframe. This significantly reduces the attack surface and potential damage a cyberattacker could inflict on your enterprise’s systems.
Human users often need temporarily elevated privileges such as for DevOps workflows or to build, test and deploy cloud infrastructures. But granting these privileges as standing benefits increases risk because they remain active for too long, leaving your enterprise open to threats that can steal those credentials or gain valuable access to sensitive production data.
Moreover, gaining these elevated privileges through most PAM solutions is manual, requiring a security team or management to issue the approvals. This introduces additional vulnerabilities by introducing another person into the process and making the elevated privileges accessible to attackers while waiting for that person to act.
Using just in time access can automate the approval process and remove the need for an administrator to approve a user’s request for privileged access. Requiring the user’s identity to meet pre-determined criteria can reduce the number of steps in the process and the risk for attackers while making it easier for admins to enforce policies and provide access to users.
Privileged access management (PAM) has a critical security component: Just-In-Time Access. It allows organizations to balance security and productivity by enabling users to get the access they need on time while ensuring that those privileges don’t remain active for extended periods.
Most advanced PAM solutions apply a Just-In-Time model by combining three key factors: location, time, and actions. For example, suppose a user needs elevated permissions to work on a specific problem. In that case, the system will provide that access for a pre-set timeframe and then automatically expire those credentials as soon as the process is complete.
The risk of having privileges in active status for too long is enormous. Attackers can use these privileges to steal data, encrypt passwords, run malicious commands, and more. In addition, having standing benefits allows hackers to move laterally across the network.
A Just-In-Time PAM solution limits this exposure by only granting privileges when necessary and removing them immediately after that need has been fulfilled. This allows organizations to meet compliance and security requirements and reduce their risk of a cyberattack. Moreover, it helps them adhere to the POLP principle and Zero Trust models by requiring everything trying to connect to systems to be verified before giving access.
The privileged accounts in your IT ecosystem are like standing weapons that attackers can use to steal credentials, encrypt data, and move laterally throughout your infrastructure. By implementing a JIT PAM model, you can reduce these attack surfaces.
This cybersecurity practice takes advantage of Zero Trust fundamentals and limits the duration of a user’s elevated privileges on an account-by-account basis. Instead of the “always-on” approach, brief accounts are created when a user submits an access request for a task. These accounts are then granted temporarily elevated privileges for the specific timeframe needed to complete the work and are automatically revoked after completion.
Advanced privileged access management solutions implement this JIT security practice by controlling the three main factors of access: location, actions, and timing. When a user submits an access request, they must justify why the elevated privileges are needed and how long they will be used. Then, their credentials and access are analyzed to determine whether the request meets your policies.
This removes the need for other teams to manually grant permissions, which could introduce another opportunity for attackers to exploit. It also makes your business more resilient to attacks by eliminating static passwords and accounts, which attackers can steal and leverage. JIT privileged access management also makes meeting compliance regulations that require a granular audit perspective and the removal of standing privileges easier.
A culture of compliance requires commitment from every level of the organization. Senior management should attend training with employees and demonstrate to the company that compliance is a significant value. Holding weekly staff meetings can also foster a healthy work environment and create open lines of communication for all employees.
One of the most effective ways to boost security and improve risk management in the workplace is by implementing a Just-In-Time PAM solution. Just-In-Time Access enables administrators to grant temporary privileged account access to users as needed. This helps address three critical aspects of privileged access: location, time, and actions.
For example, suppose an employee needs access to a privileged account for a short window for troubleshooting or application installation and maintenance. In that case, an administrator can create a temporary arrangement that grants them access for the specific time needed. Then, when the employee’s time window is over, their account and any associated temporary credentials will be automatically revoked.
This reduces the attack surface, eliminates lateral movement by threat actors, and helps companies meet compliance requirements by enforcing the Principle of Least Privilege. Furthermore, it simplifies audits by logging privileged-access activities in a central vault and providing complete, granular audit reports. With StrongDM, you can quickly and easily implement a Just-In-Time Access strategy for all your infrastructure with our centralized and automated PAM solutions.