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Best Password Managers for Small Businesses 2021

By Kaiti Norton
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Unless you're living completely off the grid, you need a password manager. You probably use numerous online applications to run your business — from CRM apps to accounting software to email marketing tools. Accessing those accounts without a password manager is like leaving your house without locking the door. You hope no one will approach your home and discover that it's unlocked, but there's no way to actually prevent that from happening without security measures in place.

A password manager acts as a first line of defense against malicious actors who might see an open door and seize the opportunity to access your most sensitive business information. It's akin to the deadbolt that keeps your door locked and intruders at bay. As such, password managers have become an essential part of maintaining your business's cybersecurity. Keep reading to learn more about the numerous benefits these tools offer and compare the top solutions for your business.

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What does a password manager do?

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A password manager is a software application that securely stores all passwords a user needs to access online accounts. As you take more and more of your business processes online, you and your employees will need to keep up with even more credentials on top of the ones you're already using. This is especially crucial if your team works remotely.

A basic password manager will store your passwords for you, but a great password manager will do much more. It will analyze your passwords for ones that are weak or reused, enable password sharing for shared accounts, and recommend strong passwords for new accounts or to replace existing passwords. It will also boast strong encryption and authentication features so you can store all the keys to the castle in one place without worrying about them falling into the wrong hands.

Why are password managers important?

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Password managers are important because they eliminate the need to remember passwords or store them by other means like sticky notes or spreadsheets. Passwords comprise the largest cybersecurity vulnerabilities small businesses face, so monitoring and securing them is often a difficult task. With a password manager, everyone in your organization can maintain login credentials that are secure, difficult to crack, and unique to each application.

Related: World Password Day Reminds Us to Examine Our Weakest Security Link

Avoiding a data breach is among your top cybersecurity priorities, but a password manager can also benefit your overall user experience. You can use it to save all of your information in one central location and then log in to your accounts with a few clicks. Instead of spending time looking up the password for an account you don't access often, you can get in and start working right away. 

Plus, if you have an account you need to share with multiple members of your team (like social media accounts, for example), you can easily share the credentials while preserving their security. The right people will be able to gain access without ever actually seeing the passwords themselves. When someone no longer needs the credentials, you can also revoke access without needing to change the account password.

Additionally, advanced password management tools will support single sign-on (SSO) or universal login capabilities, so you and your users can access all of the tools you need without needing to log into each application individually. It may take extra time and effort to configure SSO or universal login up front, but over time it will save time by skipping the login and authentication process altogether.

Password management software vs. browser password managers

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Regardless of which web browser you use, it most likely offers some level of password management capabilities. Of course, this is better than using a notebook or Word document to store your passwords. But do browser password managers measure up against dedicated password management software?

A separate password management tool that integrates with your web browser is a far superior solution than solely relying on a browser alone. First and foremost, password management software is browser-agnostic and compatible with most devices. This is ideal if you have a BYOD environment where you don't have as much control over the kind of devices your employees are using. It also means you'll have access to all of your accounts from any device while traveling or working away from your desk.

Password management software also offers more advanced features like password sharing, activity logging, multi-factor authentication, and administrative controls. You can easily onboard a new employee or freelancer so they have access to everything they need immediately and offboard them just as quickly. You can also assign roles to specific employees in your organization depending on the respective permissions they need.

Related: How Can SMBs Tap into the Gig Economy?

Top password manager comparison

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1Password

LastPass

Bitwarden

Dashlane

Zoho Vault

Keeper

Single sign-on

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Free edition

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

Item storage

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Self hosting option

No

No

Yes

No

No

No

Zero-trust/ zero- knowledge security

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

1Password: Best password manager for security monitoring

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Pros

1Password has been lauded among many users for its balance of features, ease of use, price, and versatility. Perhaps most significantly, it delivers some of the best password analysis capabilities via its Watchtower feature. Not only does it alert you if a password is weak or duplicated across other accounts, but it also integrates with Have I Been Pwned to monitor the internet for data breaches involving your information. 1Password will let you know if your credentials have been compromised, so you can maintain good password hygiene.

Cons

Some users have commented on 1Password's overzealousness when it offers to store what it thinks is a password. Sometimes a site you're using will ask you to enter something in a field that 1Password mistakes for a new credential and prompts you accordingly. This is a relatively minor inconvenience — and one that may be fixed in a future update — but it's still one that can be disruptive to your workflow. 

Similarly, some users have expressed frustration with how well 1Password performs on mobile devices and how frequently it asks for the user's master password.

Pricing

1Password offers two different editions:

  • Teams: $3.99/user/month
  • Business: $7.99/user/month

LastPass: Best password manager for flexibility

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Pros

LastPass is among the most versatile password managers on this list. In addition to storing passwords, you can use LastPass for a wide variety of items related to your personal security like drivers license or passport information and credit card numbers. LastPass also supports a number of advanced identity management features like single sign-on, federated login, and adaptive biometric authentication. If you're looking for a solution that will grow alongside your business and meet your password management needs at every step of the way, LastPass might be the right choice for you.

Cons

Over the last few years, privacy has become a major concern for LastPass users. In 2019, for example, a Google bug-hunter discovered a vulnerability in the LastPass app that exposed a user's credentials on a previously visited site. More recently, the Exodus Privacy app discovered seven web trackers within the LastPass application for Android devices. These trackers allow third parties to collect data on the sites a user visits. LastPass's recent history of privacy blunders has pushed many prospective users toward alternative solutions, so these concerns may outweigh the number of advanced features it offers.

Pricing

LastPass offers four different editions for businesses:

  • MFA: $3/user/month
  • Teams: $4/user/month
  • Enterprise: $6/user/month
  • Identity: $8/user/month

Also read: 1Password vs. LastPass: Which is Better? Which is Safer?

Bitwarden: Best password manager for small teams

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Pros

Among all the password managers on this list, Bitwarden offers the most features for free users. If you only have two people on your team, you can enjoy unlimited item storage for all of your passwords, notes, and identities, as well as unlimited sharing with the other person on your team. 

One unique feature included even in the free edition is Bitwarden Send, a one-to-one encrypted messaging tool. This lets you quickly share sensitive information with additional security parameters like deletion or expiration dates or password requirements. 

You'll have to upgrade for more users or advanced features like audit logs and SSO, but even the top tier Bitwarden Enterprise edition is more affordable than most business-grade password managers.

Cons

Although it's one of the most affordable solutions, Bitwarden is also one of the least user-friendly. It's an open-source software, so you'll need some degree of tech-savviness to get it up and running. 

Some users have also reported that the user interface isn't as intuitive as others and the process of importing or syncing passwords across multiple devices or accounts is a significant source of frustration. If you're looking for a solution that you can implement quickly and effectively with limited technical knowledge, Bitwarden probably won't be the right fit for you.

Pricing

BitWarden offers three different editions:

  • Free Organization: $0 for up to 2 users
  • Teams Organization: $3/user/month
  • Enterprise Organization: $5/user/month

Dashlane: Best password manager for bonus features

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Pros

From day one, Dashlane simplifies the process of managing your company's passwords. It walks you through each step of importing passwords from your browser or another password manager and alerts you if there are any vulnerabilities. It's also easy to onboard new employees or guest accounts and if someone leaves your organization, you can remotely wipe credential information from their devices just as easily. 

Among other benefits like a bundled VPN and SAML provisioning, Dashlane also provides a separate, free family account for all Business users. This means your employees can keep track of their professional accounts as well as their private logins for up to five family members.

Cons

Some users report trouble with Dashlane's auto-filling functionality, but most cybersecurity experts recommend disabling this type of feature anyway. Auto-filling has the potential to undermine the whole point of password protection if a user's device falls into the wrong hands.

Dashlane also falls short when it comes to integrations and it has fewer pricing options, so you may need to look elsewhere for a solution that's more flexible.

Pricing

Dashlane offers two different editions:

  • Team: $5/user/month
  • Business: $8/user/month

Zoho Vault: Best password manager for user management

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Pros

Zoho Vault, like most other Zoho products, was designed with small businesses in mind. Its scalable pricing structure allows you to start small and add more users and features as needed. Zoho Vault integrates with a wide range of applications, including Office 365, Google Workspace, Dropbox, Okta, and Zendesk. 

It offers impressive user management tools so you can set fine-grained permissions for individual users depending on their role. If managing your users' access and permissions is your biggest priority, you'll be pleased with how easy it is to grant or revoke access and acquire or transfer ownership of your business accounts. 

Cons

The focus on team management might make Zoho Vault a less valuable tool if you're working with a small team. If you only have a few users to manage or are looking for a password manager for just yourself, an alternative solution like Bitwarden will most likely meet your needs better than Zoho Vault. 

You may also want to look elsewhere for more proactive security features like dark web monitoring or domain breach reporting. 

There is no desktop application for Zoho Vault, so it won't integrate with your native applications as seamlessly as other password managers on this list.

Pricing

Zoho Vault offers four different editions:

  • Forever free: $0 (for personal use)
  • Standard: $0.90/user/month
  • Professional: $4.50/user/month (minimum 5 users)
  • Enterprise: $7.20/user/month (minimum 5 users)

Keeper: Best cross-platform password manager

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Pros

Keeper offers the most consistent user experience across device types, operating systems, and web browsers among all of the password managers on this list. Its interface is very polished, intuitive, and easy to organize no matter what device or browser you're using. You can control whether Keeper prompts you to save new login information or automatically fills your credentials when it detects a new form or login field. Keeper creates a frictionless user experience that supports your existing workflows instead of creating frustrating disruptions. 

Cons

Keeper's feature offering isn't as comprehensive as some other password managers, so that may be a drawback worth considering. If you want a password manager that will automatically update passwords for you, Keeper won't meet your needs. Additionally, you'll need to pay extra to generate alerts and reports for your company's password health or to monitor the dark web for credentials that are potentially at risk. 

Pricing

Keeper offers two different editions:

  • Business: $3.75/user/month
  • Enterprise: contact for pricing
  • Keeper offers separate add-ons for reporting/alerts, file storage, support, risk assessment, and secure messaging

The future of password management

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As you narrow your search for the right solution for your business, it's worth considering what the future of password management looks like. Many large enterprises are already making a shift toward passwordless authentication methods like biometric authentication and identity access management (IAM), which effectively eliminate the need for traditional passwords altogether. It's never too late to implement a tool that will manage your passwords for you, but it's also important to keep in mind that your needs will likely change as methods of infiltrating passwords become more sophisticated. 

Read next: Half of SMBs Have No Response Plan for a Cyber Security Incident


This article was originally published on April 19, 2021
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