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Bitwarden Open Source Security Explained

authored by:Gabe Ovgard
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“In software, when you make the source code open, you unleash collaboration and innovation otherwise not possible. In security, when you make vulnerabilities and their fixes open, you unleash collaboration and risk reduction otherwise not possible. ” - Mårten Mickos

This article answers three common questions about how being open source strengthens Bitwarden security, transparency, and privacy. 

1. How does open source contribute to security? 

For academic research to be deemed credible, it must undergo a peer review process in which subject matter experts investigate and critique the author's work to ensure integrity. 

Open source software works similarly. The developer writes the source code and then makes it public for others to review, analyze, and audit. The audits don't end there. Open source codebases like Bitwarden undergo continuous inspection and enhancement by developers, users, and security researchers – i.e., by a diverse set of community participants. As the product gains popularity and longevity, security improves. More eyes, brainpower, and scrutiny are applied to each line of code, further solidifying the integrity of the application as developers and researchers identify potential errors for resolution.

In addition to ongoing reviews from the dedicated Bitwarden user community, Bitwarden engages a variety of  third-party security auditors, including HackerOne (crowdsourced ethical hacking), Insight Risk Consulting (penetration testing), and Cure53 (source code audits). This ongoing and rigorous review cycle fortifies the source code and the service, ensuring optimal security for Bitwarden users. (See for a full list of Bitwarden’s security and compliance materials.)

2. How does open source contribute to transparency and trust?

Have you ever wondered where your food comes from? Knowing the origin of your food can help you make better, healthier choices. It allows you to verify that the ingredients are fresh, nutritious, and natural. It is a safeguard for your health and wellness. 

Similarly, a software solution with transparent source code can help protect you and your business. The code that developers write are the ingredients in software. Knowing the ingredients and their function is vital information to validate the safety and privacy of an application. Open source software solutions like Bitwarden are entirely and inherently transparent because the curtain has been pulled back so that anyone can inspect the source code.

In the end, transparency is a prerequisite for trust – perhaps the most crucial element in building a sound cybersecurity strategy. To gain trust, we must be transparent and open – open about the goals and intentions of our software, open about how our code is written, and open about how it is maintained and kept secure. Open source security software affords the user community this transparency – and therefore trust – in a way that closed source cannot. 

Mårten Mickos answers the question in fewer words, “[Transparency] is the only way to fully achieve trust.”

3. How does open source contribute to privacy?

Two keys are required to access a bank safe deposit box: one from the bank and one from the box’s owner. This security method ensures that the box contents remain private and only accessible by their owner. Because this security method is publicly known, it keeps the bank accountable to the box owner. The owner is confident that their items are private because they know the specific security measures that are in place. 

Open source software contributes to user privacy in similar ways. 

As we discovered above, open source software is inherently transparent. Complete transparency in source code means users can verify every claim that the organization makes about their software, which breeds user trust. For example, Bitwarden uses end-to-end encryption to keep our user data confidential–a claim that can be verified through open source code.

In addition to third-party entities like HackerOne, Cure53, and community contributors, Bitwarden substantiates its commitment to user privacy through the following compliance certifications:

  • GDPR

  • SOC 2


  • Privacy Shield

  • CCPA

For more information, see the Bitwarden compliance page.

Optimal protection through open source

There has been growing concern about keeping businesses secure. The 2023 Passwords Decisions Survey report revealed that 60% of companies have experienced a cyberattack, and most are credential-related. Picking a transparent, trusted, open source credential management solution provides businesses protection and peace of mind. When it comes to security, transparency, and privacy, the open source advantage is clear. 

Want more information about how open source software can help optimize security for your business? Check out the article Why Open Source Delivers Transparency and Security for Enterprises.

Get started with Bitwarden

Bitwarden is an open source password management solution that uses end-to-end encryption to safeguard all your online accounts. Use Bitwarden to securely generate, share, and store unlimited passwords across unlimited devices.

Start a free enterprise trial today and join the global community of businesses using Bitwarden to manage and share their passwords and credentials securely.

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