Recommendations on Team Password Managers
Offline and online password managers for individuals and organizations
Although we generally recommend not to store passwords in the cloud and the password manager we usually suggest to use is KeepassXC, which is open source, maintained, and under the user’s complete control, when passwords need to be shared with several people KeePassXC may not be the easiest tool to use.
When passwords need to be shared with several people, we can suggest the client a strategy to share KeePassXC databases with their team, as well as recommend a self-hosted password manager or end-to-end encrypted online password managers.
Whatever the client’s choice, we should stress that the master passphrase to unblock the password manager needs to be strong and unique. If necessary, we can share with them this guide for creating strong passwords.
KeePassXC is a free and open source cross-platform password manager. It is the tool of choice for individuals, but can be harder to use for sharing passwords in a team. To do so, a database for the team needs to be created and stored online, and the password for unblocking it needs to be shared through a secure channel with the team.
We can send our clients the following instructions for team password management with KeePassXC:
Every staff member will need to install KeePassXC in their PC.
KeePassXC can be downloaded from this page.
You will need to create a database, protected by a strong and unique passphrase, for your team. Individual staff members should also create a separate database for their private keys.
The shared team database will be stored in your cloud/secure server.
The passphrase to unblock the team database will be shared in person or through secure encrypted communication channels and stored in the individual staff members’ private password databases.
This solution is free, but it does not allow to share a password with people who are not in the same team.
Pros: you have complete control of your shared password database, because it is stored in your server, and the learning curve is not very high, i.e. you just need to be trained to use it, but don’t need an IT person to manage it.
Cons: If there are more subteams, staff members will have to store a different passphrase for each database they have access to, and they have to share some of these passphrases with other members of their subteam - this is prone to human errors. Passwords cannot be shared easily between staff members who don’t belong to the same subteam.
Passbolt is an online password manager for groups that is end-to-end encrypted and based on mature free and open source software. Passbolt is currently considered as “stable” and has already undergone several security audits.
It can be self-hosted in the organization’s server, or hosted in Passbolt’s cloud.
Passwords can be shared on a need-to-know basis with single individuals or with teams.
Multi-factor authentication is only available in the paid versions of Passbolt.
If the client has their own server and an IT person, they can manage their own instance of Passbolt.
- The software and documentation can be requested by filling in this form
- Code on Github
- Passbolt also provides a paid one-click installer
Passbolt Cloud is a paid solution, that can be used by organizations that have some funding but don’t have an IT person to maintain a Passbolt instance.
Bitwarden is a freemium open-source cloud-based password management service. It offers paid solutions with features for small groups and organizations and a free solution for individuals. It can also be self-hosted. Bitwarden offers end-to-end encryption using AES 256 bit encryption as well as PBKDF2.
- More details on Bitwarden’s encryption
- Instructions for installing and deploying a self-hosted instance of Bitwarden
- Code on Github
- Bitwarden security audit
1Password is a commercial paid online password manager. It is end-to-end encrypted with standard, open source encryption methods.
LastPass is an online password manager. It is end-to-end encrypted and offers other security features like two-factor authentication, but is not open source and is a paid solution.
It offers team features and more, depending on the selected package. Options are listed in this page.
Please note that LastPass should not be suggested as a first option, since it is not open source and a security issue has been raised about passwords being stored in LastPass’ servers.