Ephemeral Certificates / Ephemeral Access

Ephemeral certificates are short-lived access credentials that are valid for as long as they are required to authenticate and authorize privileged connections

Ephemeral Certificates/Ephemeral Access

Ephemeral access

Ephemeral access refers to temporary or short-lived access to a resource, system, or data. In the context of cybersecurity and access control, ephemeral access is often used as a security measure to limit exposure and reduce the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches.

ephemeral access

Key characteristics of ephemeral access include:

  1. Limited Duration: Ephemeral control grants permissions for a specific and predefined period of time. Once that time expires, the access is automatically revoked. This contrasts with traditional access control, which often relies on long-term permissions that may remain in place indefinitely until manually revoked.
  2. Just-In-Time Access: Ephemeral control is often granted just in time when needed. This means that users or systems receive access privileges only when they require them for a particular task or operation. Once the task is completed, the access is removed.
  3. Dynamic and Adaptive: Ephemeral control can be adaptive and dynamically adjusted based on changing circumstances or requirements. For example, a user’s access permissions might be extended or reduced based on their role, location, or the specific task they’re performing.

Ephemeral access is valuable in enhancing security for several reasons:

  • Reduced Attack Surface: By limiting access to only when it’s needed and for the shortest duration necessary, organizations can reduce their attack surface. Even if credentials are compromised, they will have limited value because they expire quickly.
  • Minimized Risk: Ephemeral access reduces the risk associated with prolonged access. If a user’s privileges are compromised, the attacker has a limited window of opportunity to misuse them.
  • Compliance: Ephemeral access can assist organizations in meeting compliance requirements by ensuring that access is tightly controlled and aligns with the principle of least privilege (giving users the minimum access necessary to perform their duties).

Ephemeral access is commonly used in various IT and security contexts, including:

  • Cloud Computing: Many cloud service providers offer mechanisms for ephemeral access to virtual machines, containers, and cloud resources. Users can obtain temporary access tokens or credentials for specific tasks.
  • Remote Access: Remote access solutions may provide time-limited access to internal networks or systems for remote workers or third-party contractors.
  • Zero Trust Security: The zero trust security model often incorporates ephemeral access as a core principle, requiring continuous authentication and revalidation of access privileges.
  • DevOps and Automation: Ephemeral access is used in DevOps practices to grant temporary access to systems for automated tasks like software deployments.

Overall, ephemeral access is a security practice that helps organizations strike a balance between providing necessary access to users and maintaining a strong security posture by limiting the duration and scope of access permissions.


Just-in-time access permission management


  • What is ephemeral access?

    Ephemeral certificate-based authorization is a type of access which doesn’t require permanent access credentials, traditional SSH key management, or explicit revocation to access target systems. The Certificate Authority issues the ephemeral certificate for each session, which acts as a trusted third party.

  • What are ephemeral certificates?

    Ephemeral certificates are short-term access credentials valid for a specific term during which personnel can authenticate and authorize privileged connections.

  • What is ephemeral account?

    Ephemeral accounts are temporary short-term accounts actively used to perform an authorized task. These accounts are known as Activity tokens in Netwrix SbPAM, which are created with enough access to execute an administrative task.