You know the frustration when you check your bank balance, and there’s another $40 charge for the gym membership you forgot to cancel. Or, more likely, you didn’t cancel it ‘just in case’ you wanted to work up a sweat sometime. 

Always-on privileged access (otherwise called ‘standing privileges’) manifests similarly. 

77% of organizations grant unrestricted access to employees who don’t need it, but an always-on approach doesn’t necessarily help them do their jobs. Instead, it provides opportunities for security breaches that could easily fly under the radar. 

In 2022 alone, 55% of organizations suffered a cyber attack where hackers phished privileged credentials, which Verizon flagged as a critical attack vector.

This article will review why just-in-time (JIT) permission management provides the security and speed organizations need to control access. We’ll also look at the types of JIT management, what automated JIT is, and the best practices for enabling it in your business. 

What is Just-In-Time permission management?

Just -in-time permission management or JIT (aka. Just-in-time access) is a cybersecurity practice that follows the principle of least privilege to grant users access to assets only when they need it for a limited timeframe. When time’s up, users lose access to resources such as applications and systems. 

Using the JIT methodology to limit the window of time a user has access rights also limits attackers’ chances to infiltrate your cloud security perimeter.  

45% of breaches in 2022 were cloud-based in light of the increasing number of applications, services, users, and resources in the cloud, making just-in-time permission management (JIT) a must-have. While traditional PAM processes (e.g., session management) succeed as a network-based access solution for on-premises environments, JIT is ideal for controlling access across cloud resources. 

Types of Just-In-Time permission management 

  • Ephemeral – A one-time account is created to fulfill the user’s access requirements and then disabled or deleted. 
  • Temporary – Users request elevated privileges on their existing accounts when needed. 
  • Justification-based – Users must justify why they require privileged access according to predetermined policies. Then, a privileged account and credentials are created and rotated using a central vault.  It’s also called ‘broker and remove’ access. 

What is automated Just-in-Time permission management, and why do you need it?

Assigning JIT permissions manually is like playing a game of whack-a-mole – requests pop up all the time across your organization, and you have to respond at lightning speed to avoid disgruntled colleagues. 

59% of organizations fail to deploy zero trust due to resource constraints, so can you realistically dedicate time and personnel to granting and revoking access all day?

In contrast, automated JIT platforms help relieve friction caused by manual permission management by validating, monitoring, and revoking access without human intervention. Automated JIT platforms have features like auto-expiring permissions and reporting capabilities, enabling users to self-serve permission requests without compromising your organization’s security posture. Putting permission management in the hands of an automated JIT platform prevents human error to minimize the attack surface, eliminates bottlenecks, and ultimately helps maintain productivity.

What are the benefits of automated Just in Time permission management

As well as taking a weight off your IT and security teams’ shoulders, automated JIT has many other benefits. 

Enhances security posture

According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach report, compromised or stolen credentials were the most common attack vector in 2022. Automated JIT drastically reduces the risk of privilege abuse and breached identities by eliminating the need for standing privileges. 

Boosts business productivity 

Say goodbye to manual review cycles, wait times, and human error with an automated JIT approval workflow. You can grant access at scale to suit each task at hand, which would make a massive dent in your operational efficiency without automated JIT. 

Improves compliance 

With automated JIT, you can satisfy compliance and customer requirements like SOC2 by enforcing zero trust, least privilege access, and auditing all privileged access activities. Automated JIT platforms can include auditing and reporting features to help you gain visibility over all sessions and privileges. 

How can you enable Just in Time access?

Here are seven best practices you can follow when enabling and implementing JIT access. 

  1. Identify and inventorize

First, it’s time to take stock. Begin by identifying the accounts and assets with the most privileges that pose the highest risk, usually those belonging to administrators. You can implement JIT access control to these accounts first, then work your way down the chain. 

  1. Use RBAC and ABAC

You can use role-based access control (RBAC) and attribute-based access control (ABAC) as supplementary solutions to define granular policies and circumstances for elevated access. RBAC and ABAC can help you categorize accounts and differentiate the rights they need, then create a control policy that users must meet to receive access. 

  1. Define and enable temporary access

As well as defining policies for justification-based access, you can create criteria for users that request temporary access, such as which accounts are valid and the duration of access. You can also implement time-based controls. For example, granting access to specific resources during pre-defined days and times. 

  1. Record and audit activity 

An automated access management solution provides visibility over your operations by logging all access activities and enabling alerts responding to dodgy behavior. You can also record and log JIT privileged access. A (digital) paper trail is essential for auditing, governance, and compliance with regulations like SOC2 and PCI-DSS. 

  1. Assign responsibility 

You’ll need to delegate responsibilities to employees and decide who will review permission requests. Training employees on how and when to grant or revoke access is essential to minimize incident risk, especially in moments like ‘break glass’ and ‘on-call’. This is where automated JIT comes in handy. It helps you configure ‘break glass’ and ‘on-call’ access flows to resolve incidents and remove bottlenecks like waking DevOps staff. 

  1. Use short-lived (ephemeral) credentials 

You should manually rotate credentials regularly to invalidate them, so hackers cannot use a password even if they get their hands on it. You can do this in a centralized vault that, of course, requires the highest security clearance possible. 

  1. Use an automated access management tool

The best way to simplify cloud access management is to use a solution like Apono that enforces an automated JIT approach. You can minimize friction, remove over-privileges, and prevent permissions from slipping through the cracks by using Apono to suggest automated JIT access. Standing privileges will never put your organization at risk again. 

Automate Just-In-Time Access and Secure Cloud Assets with Apono

40% of IT and security professionals say that cloud security is their top priority in 2023. 38% point specifically to identity and access management, and 25% say zero trust, signaling the final nail in the coffin for standing privileges. JIT access provides an effective solution for organizations of all sizes to improve their security posture and remain continuously compliant without impeding productivity. 

With Apono’s cloud-native permission management platform, you can automate permission granting for your entire stack based on organizational context and approval workflows. So you don’t need to spend time manually provisioning access. Apono integrates seamlessly with your cloud environments for a smooth user experience and streamlines compliance and customer requirements.