Let’s face it: reusing the same password over and over puts your personal data at serious risk. It’s why you need to use a password management app now.
“Part of our philosophy is that basic password management should be free for everyone,” started Michael Crandell, CEO of Bitwarden. I met up with him at a beachfront hotel in Santa Barbara, near the company’s headquarters.
Bitwarden makes a popular, open source password management software that also happens to be free.
That’s good to know, especially at a time when another popular password management app called LastPass is making changes on March 16 that have many users looking for a new option. LastPass will begin charging for some features that used to be free. This includes the ability to sync your passwords across all of your devices, including tablets, mobile phones and computers at the same time.
“One key aspect of a password manager is that it be available to you on every device on every platform that you use,” said Crandell, well aware of the changes happening at the competition.
Password managers work by generating strong, unique and random passwords for every site you visit (14 characters seems to be the sweet spot for maximum security, according to Crandell). The app also stores all of the information, so when you come back to the website, the password manager fills in all of the info for you.
You just have to choose one “master” password to secure your account and enable two-factor authentication to be sure no one else can get in.
“Bitwarden as a company as a service can never, ever see your passwords, they’re only available to you,” explained Crandell.
There are also some other free password manager options remaining. Dashlane has a free product that is excellent, but again, you can only access your passwords on one device. This means that you would be typing or copying and pasting passwords from your phone to computer or vice versa every time you wanted to use them. Also, Dashlane’s free tier is limited to 50 passwords.
Google has a basic password management feature called Password Manager, but it’s mostly useful only if you stick to Chrome browser, a Chromebook and Android.
Apple’s iCloud Keychain is also a good choice but this is even more limited in that it only works well across Apple’s devices. If you only use Apple products, like an iPhone and Mac computer, this could be a free and easy way to get started with more secure passwords.
No matter which password manager you choose, it’s a step in a secure direction. Just be sure to also enable two-factor authentication everywhere you can.
As for Bitwarden, the free plan really is free, including syncing across all devices and as many passwords as you want to store. The main thing you don’t get is the ability to securely share passwords with another family member. You’ll have to upgrade to a paid personal plan for that.