Just-in-time access uses a temporary, on-demand account to grant users elevated privileges for as long as needed. The accounts are temporary and get automatically revoked or deleted after use.
This approach significantly improves your cybersecurity posture by reducing the risk of standing privilege abuse and lateral movement by threat actors. It also simplifies admin workflows.
What is JIT?
Just-in-time access is a security process that lets administrators elevate human and non-human users in real time to provide them with granular elevated privileges for a short time when needed. It’s become a crucial cybersecurity process in response to the rise of cyberattacks, data breaches, and other risk factors that stem from standing privilege.
Like JIT inventory management in retail, the concept is to stock only what you need for immediate consumption physically. This reduces the number of items that may go bad or sit on the shelf, which helps you avoid wasted materials and capital.
Likewise, JIT access reduces the amount of privileged account abuse by providing users with the privileges they need for a short period when they require them to complete their tasks. This enables organizations to protect against the most dangerous types of cyberattacks while supporting the principle of least privilege and zero-trust models, maintaining productivity for remote employees, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.
To implement JIT access, organizations should start by vaulting and managing default built-in credentials (admin, root, SA, etc.) , hiring react developers and implementing role-based and attribute-based access control policies that govern what users can do with these accounts. Next, they should focus on users and workloads with the highest risk by moving them to a JIT model for server/workload access. This will reduce the number of privileged accounts that can be compromised and minimize the impact of any successful attack.
How does JIT work?
Just-in-time access allows administrators to enable privilege elevation only when a user requires it. When end-users need elevated access to a system or database, they submit a request approved based on predefined security policies. That privileged access is granted for their task and automatically revoked when they log off. This eliminates the need for a permanent, unrestricted account and reduces an organization’s attack surface.
To implement JIT access, an organization must have peripheral systems like request ticketing workflows and user behavior analytics to track and approve requests. Privileged access management solutions that support JIT can automate these processes and streamline approvals so that users do not have to wait days for their requests to be approved. This helps to keep business productivity up without sacrificing security.
Another critical aspect of implementing JIT is tracking eCommerce KPIs to help forecast inventory demand. This will allow companies to avoid the bullwhip effect, where orders spike quickly and cause a rush of production that leads to stock shortages. It also allows them to avoid the cost of over-ordering materials and the waste of unsold or obsolete products.
What are the benefits of JIT?
JIT provides several benefits for companies that implement it. For one, it reduces inventory costs by reducing raw materials and work-in-progress inventories. It also improves efficiency by reducing setup times and batch sizes. Finally, it can help a company better meet customer demand by increasing the production of in-demand products and lowering production for slow-moving goods.
However, a few challenges exist before adopting a JIT model. The first challenge is that JIT requires companies to accurately track sales and predict consumer demand, which can be difficult. If a company correctly tracks demand, it may run out of inventory faster than it can produce more, leading to customer satisfaction and revenue loss. Additionally, JIT can be more expensive than traditional methods because it requires local sourcing and can be disrupted by natural disasters and other supply chain issues.
Another challenge to JIT is that it can be vulnerable to security threats. Because JIT relies on temporary privilege access, it is essential to ensure that these accounts are used appropriately and not abused by hackers looking for opportunities for lateral movement within your organization. To mitigate this risk, you can use a Zero Trust PAM solution that vaults all users’ privileged access and only grants them elevated credentials for as long as necessary to complete their tasks.
What are the challenges of JIT?
Implementing a JIT inventory system can be challenging for many businesses. It requires a strong, trusting relationship with suppliers that allows you to order the necessary materials only when needed. It’s also important to track sales trends and seasonal fluctuations to order the right quantities of each product at the right time.
Another challenge of JIT is that tracking supply chain issues and delays can be complex. If a supplier is having trouble with production or delivery, it can affect all the other companies dependent on them. This can lead to customer dissatisfaction and revenue losses.
The key to overcoming these challenges is having the proper tools in place. By identifying risks, implementing a risk-based approach, and using advanced cybersecurity solutions, your business can reap the benefits of JIT without sacrificing security.
First, begin your JIT access implementation by focusing on the highest-risk vulnerabilities. Then, apply a granular policy that only grants users standing privileges when they request it and provide justification for the use case (like building a new cloud infrastructure). This will significantly reduce your exposure to cyberattacks, especially those that target specific user accounts like domain admins or sysadmins. This will help protect your critical data in the event of a breach.