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Bringing Bitwarden Home…to Mom

authored by:Vivian Shic
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My mom rotates between four different mobile phones depending on her international travel excursions, owns two iPads (and a smart TV) for unlimited streaming, and independently troubleshoots most computer issues. All of this is to say - she’s not not technically savvy.

So when Bitwarden announced Free Families for Enterprise a few months ago, I was inspired to do just that - bring Bitwarden home to my mom who, for all her digital accouterments, hand wrote her passwords in a thick stapled stack of paper. I thought, once she sees the power and efficiency of Bitwarden, she’ll never go back. A few hours on Saturday should be enough to migrate her credentials into a Vault, a few clicks, and it’s goodbye notepads forever!

Learn more: Bitwarden now offers free Family plans for all enterprise users.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t quite go as planned. While she’s now happily set up on Bitwarden, her initial resistance to change took me by complete surprise. Here are a few takeaways.

The rational and emotional are often disjointed

Did I mention my mom was a victim of identity theft? For three years, she played whack-a-mole with banks, credit card companies, and credit bureaus until the FBI stepped in and caught the thief who had stolen hundreds of other identities. Surely someone who experienced online theft would see the value in keeping all her credentials and sensitive information securely stored in an end-to-end encrypted Vault.

That wasn’t the case and here’s why: change is grueling when the rational (thoughtful, logical) and emotional (instinctual, impulsive) are at odds. For mom, lectures around encryption, security, and even convenience weren’t cutting it. Her emotional mind loved the comfort of an existing routine. Understanding this helped me shift my approach, which was ultimately to get her to see a password manager in action.

Passwords stored on paper - Image: Passwords stored on paper

Paper files are much harder to track, version, or protect. Mom's passwords are now securely within a Bitwarden vault!

UR-What? Making the unknown less intimidating

New account set up, check. Master password, check. Logging in, check. We flowed through the process until she saw the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) field within her Vault. Her existing reluctance went up a notch. This was suddenly a little too technical, too hard. So, I steered her away from the foreign and back to the familiar - logins, user names, passwords.

Afterwards, the explanation of what a URI is (I used this handy blog for help) became much more acceptable and less intimidating. I made sure she was first comfortable with what she was seeing on screen before introducing anything new. Moving her to the finish line was a series of small wins.

Setting small milestones that are reachable and specific

At first, I equated resistance to stubbornness or even laziness when it was actually a lack of clarity. Her behavior of storing credentials and passwords in a stack of paper had become automatic, and changing that behavior required clear direction. An import of all her credentials at once would have muddled the path, so we focused on small milestones that were reachable and specific.

We started with one login: Amazon. Like many of us during the pandemic, my mom started buying things online. She let me move her Amazon credentials into the Vault. After that, the a-ha moment for her was seeing auto-fill in action. In just one click, Biwarden auto-filled her login credentials. No more shuffling through her sheets of paper trying to find and type in the right password!

How to change when change is hard

Change at any level - whether individual or organizational - can be excruciating. Whether you’re trying to get a family member or an entire team to adopt stronger security habits, every change effort boils down to this question: Can you get someone to start behaving in a new way? By appealing to both the rational (stronger security!) and emotional (buy stuff faster on Amazon!), I was able to convince mom to finally move away from her stack of passwords and over to a zero knowledge, end-to-end encrypted Bitwarden vault. For me, this brought extra peace of mind knowing that if she ever needed my help with her online accounts, everything was securely within reach.

Bitwarden supports your change efforts

Change - just like security - isn’t an event, it’s a process. With Bitwarden, you’re never alone in establishing better password management and security habits.
Bitwarden is with you every step of the way through the following resources and materials:

Visit the Bitwarden Community Forums to meet knowledgeable and helpful users.

Whether you’re an individual user or a business, Bitwarden has the right plan for you.

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