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​​What Is Just-In-Time Access?

Just-in-Time Access is the process that grants employees privileged access to applications and systems for a limited time, on an as-needed basis.

A good security plan means giving people and systems exactly the access they need to get their tasks done, and only for as long as they need it.

While organizations have made strides in implementing the “just enough” access component through privileged account management solutions, they tend to overlook the time-bound access aspect and ongoing risks associated with privileged access. 

Just-In-Time (JIT) Access addresses this gap by only giving access to privileged accounts when it’s needed, based on what’s happening at the time.

This plan enhances overall company security by setting time limits based on behavior and context, giving you better access control.

For example, consider a usual always-on privileged account active for 100 hours weekly. By implementing just-in-time access management, you could cut down that active time from 100 hours to just a few dozen minutes.

Applying this change to all the access privileged accounts and user accounts in your organization will significantly decrease the risks.

Types of Just-in-Time Access

Just-in-Time Access comes in three main types:

Ephemeral Access

This type gives users temporary access credentials, which are generated in real-time and expires after a given period, typically a couple of hours. This reduces the risk of access misuse, as access is granted only for the time needed to complete a task, and reduce the attack surface.

Ephemeral access is especially useful for administrators overseeing critical systems or users who occasionally require access to sensitive resources.

For example, companies can grant access to customer support to a customer’s account to troubleshoot an issue. With ephemeral access, they’ll receive temporary credentials that expire after two hours, ensuring the access is limited to the duration of the support session.

Broker and Remove Access

In this model, access to systems and resources is managed through a centralized agent or broker. When requesting access, the agent grants permissions, which are revoked once the need is fulfilled.

This approach is commonly used to control access to high-risk systems or sensitive targets.

For example, a developer could be given unlimited access to a production server to deploy an update in a platform. Using this access model, the developer’s access is granted for the deployment window and is revoked once the update is successfully deployed.

Temporary Access Elevation

This type temporarily increases users’ standing privileges to complete a specific task or project. Once the task is finished, the elevated permissions are automatically revoked, returning the user to their regular access level. This is beneficial for tasks requiring temporary higher standing privileges that occur infrequently. 

For example, a member of your marketing team needs temporary elevation of extra permissions to analyze user data for a one-time campaign analysis. With temporary access, their standing privileges are temporarily raised for the duration of the analysis, reverting to standard permissions once the task is completed.

The Importance of Just-in-Time Access

The importance of using JIT access is to keep passwords safe and enhance your company’s security. Recent studies show that nearly half of the breaches involve stolen passwords, according to Verizon’s 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report.

With JIT access, the risk of stolen passwords is greatly lowered because passwords are only given when necessary and don’t last long, reducing the time they can be used by hackers.

Below are some compelling reasons that justify the importance of just-in-time access for companies:

  • Improves online security by making it much harder for users to misuse special access and sneak around unnoticed.
  • Simplifies administrator tasks by eliminating review cycles and wait times while maintaining current workflows.
  • Improves compliance and streamlines auditing by reducing the number of users and privileged sessions, while offering comprehensive audit trails of all privileged activities.

What Are the Benefits of Just-in-Time (JIT) Access?

Here are a few benefits of using just-in-time access:

Enhanced Security and Reduced Risk

Just-in-time access significantly lowers the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches, by restricting access to resources only when necessary. This proactive approach helps companies maintain strong security measures.

Streamlined Access Management

JIT access automates the process of granting and revoking permissions, simplifying access management. Automation can eliminate the need for manual intervention, reducing the chance of errors and allowing administrators to focus on more strategic tasks.

Improved Operational Efficiency

With just-in-time access, end users get access only when they need it, promoting operational efficiency. Tasks are completed without unnecessary delays, and the organization maintains control over sensitive data and resources.

Improves Compliance and Auditing

Just-in-Time Access enhances compliance and auditing capabilities by implementing time-limited and on-demand access controls. Automated provisioning and revocation of standing access tokens create a full audit trail, simplifying monitoring and tracking access of privileged accounts’ activities.

How Does Just-in-Time (JIT) Access Work?

With respect to a company’s environment,  just-in-time access requires the right tools, rules, and steps to work. Here are a few factors to consider to make JIT access work for your company:

  • Check your organization’s standing access needs: Look at your current access rules and find out who needs access to what and for how long. This helps you pick the best JIT access method.
  • Pick the right tools: Choose tools that support just-in-time access well. Many identity and access management (IAM) solutions have JIT features. Pick one that fits your organization’s needs.
  • Set up access rules: Make clear rules about when, how, and who can get access. Include things like how requests are made, how long standing access lasts, and who can approve them-set an approval process in place. Tell everyone about these rules and stick to them.
  • Keep an eye on access: Regularly check who’s getting access and what they’re doing with it. This helps you spot any problems or rule-breakers. Use tools to track access requests, approvals, and how resources are used.
  • Educate your team: Make sure your team knows why secure access is important and how JIT helps. Train them on the rules and tools for JIT access.

How to Enable Just-in-Time Access

JIT access implementation is a three-step process:

1. Planning

  • Identify who needs access, what they need it for, and why. Document current granted access rights and consider minimizing or removing unnecessary ones.
  • Create clear rules for granting and removing access. Specify who can request access, when, and for how long. Set time limits for access grants on as needed basis.
  • Connect your JIT system with an Identity Provider.

2. Execution

  • Make it easy for temporary accounts to request access through the system by avoiding manual management and integrating requests with platforms like Slack or MS Teams. Requests should include details like the needed service, user role, access control, and reason.
  • Delegate approval to relevant people in your organization like resource owners and business managers. Establish approval workflows with predefined policies based on conditions.
  • Improve JIT’s flexibility and efficiency by linking with IT ticketing and data classification systems. This allows adjustment of access policies based on data sensitivity.
  • Automatically grant and revoke privilege access within the service, reducing reliance on manual processes. This also enables automated de-provisioning of access and implementation of the Principle of Least Privilege (POLP).
  • Choose the appropriate method (API Integration, SAML, SCIM) based on security needs, scalability requirements, and provider capabilities. Prioritize monitoring and logging for security and performance.

3. Maintenance

  • Check logs periodically to ensure just-in-time access works as intended. A well-documented JIT access system speeds up compliance processes.
  • Educate users about POLP and how JIT access works. Invest in training to help end user request access properly.
  • Implement granular policies and establish a way for issues and concerns about JIT to reach the right people for necessary corrections and improvements

JIT Access vs. JIT Provisioning

Just-in-Time Access is a security method that gives certain users access to standing privileges for a defined period when they need it. Administrators can use JIT access to closely keep privileged sessions and control who accesses important resources to avoid sensitive data breaches.

On the other hand, Just-in-Time Provisioning is a way of automatically registering a user when they first log in. It’s a different approach from just-in-time access because its main goal is to reduce the work for administrators by doing away with manual setup.

Just-in-time access and JIT provisioning can be used together or separately.

They both have similar benefits, like limiting privileged access, but they do it in different ways. Overall, they serve different purposes, even though they sometimes overlap.

Easy Access Management With Heimdal®

Whether we’re talking about JIT access or JIT provisioning, or both, choosing the right tools for your organization will make the difference between poor access management and great access management.

Heimdal®’s Privileged Access Management solution is a fully customizable and modular solution that you can make your own, by adapting it to the specific needs of your organization. Heimdal®’s solution will help your company by:

  • Automatically scanning and identifying all privileged accounts;
  • Enabling just-in-time access to avoid standing privileges;
  • Identifying and removing all hard-coded credentials;
  • Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA), one-time passwords, digital tokens, and other security protections;
  • Accessing ongoing monitoring and behavioral analytics to shut down suspicious behavior.

Do you want to try it out? Book a demo with one of our specialists and convince yourself of its capabilities. Move on to great access management in your company!

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Just-in-time access is an important security measure that can make an organization’s data protection and access management much better.

By understanding the different types of JIT access and their benefits, organizations can figure out the best way to implement it for their needs.

Using JIT access not only makes it harder for unauthorized people to get in and keeps data safe, but it also makes managing access easier, helps things run smoother, and makes sure the organization follows the rules.

To do JIT access right, organizations need to know what they need, pick the right tools, make clear rules about who can access what, keep an eye on who’s accessing what, and teach their team about it.

Following the steps listed above can help companies build a system for managing access that’s safe and works well.


What is an example of just-in-time access?

An example of just-in-time privilege access is when a worker needs temporary access to a system or file for a specific task. Instead of having access all the time, they get it only when they need it, like borrowing a tool from a toolbox and returning it when done.

How do you implement just-in-time access?

Here are six important ways to make sure just-in-time access works well:

1. Set up clear rules.

2. Begin with high-risk situations.

3. Make detailed rules based on reasons.

4. Store passwords in a secret place.

5. Give access only when needed.

6. Keep records and check what people do with their access.

What are JIT activities?

JIT activities help speed up setups and reduce the time it takes to get things done. They also aim to have less stuff in stock, involve employees in decisions, work closely with suppliers, and focus on making customers happy.

Author Profile

Cristian Neagu


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Cristian is a Content Editor & Creator at Heimdal®, where he developed a deep understanding of the digital threat landscape. His style resonates with both technical and non-technical readers, proof being in his skill of communicating cybersecurity norms effectively, in an easy-to-understand manner.

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