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An introductory guide on how to use Bitwarden Password Manager

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Why use a password manager?

According to the Bitwarden 2023 World Password Day Survey, a poll of over 2,000 global internet users, 85% reuse passwords across multiple sites and 58% rely on memory for their passwords. Over half (52%) use easily identifiable information in their passwords, such as company/brand names, well-known song lyrics, pet names, and names of loved ones.

This behavior is understandable. Most people are managing multiple accounts across their professional and personal lives and likely want to make their login experiences easier. Unfortunately, the initial ease that comes from reusing passwords and relying on memory for ‘managing’ passwords is also fraught with security risks. As Georgetown University’s Information Security Office notes:

“The more a password is reused, the more opportunities there are for your data and money to be stolen. If a reused password gets leaked as part of a data breach, hackers then have the key to your other online accounts.”

The article then goes on to say the following:

“Overwhelmed yet? Tired of changing your password because you forgot it? Again. One of the greatest tools to ease this burden for you is a password manager.”

Enter Bitwarden, selected by WIRED Magazine as the password manager Best for Most People. Read on to learn how to use Bitwarden. 

“Bitwarden is secure, open source, and free with no limits. The applications are polished and user-friendly, making the service the best choice for most users.” - WIRED

What is Bitwarden?

A high-level overview is the first step in understanding how to use Bitwarden as either an individual or a business. Bitwarden is a password manager that generates, stores, and secures important digital assets in an end-to-end encrypted vault. Users can access their data from anywhere, on any device (desktop, laptop, mobile devices) with secure cloud syncing. 

Bitwarden fully encrypts all user data before it ever leaves the user’s device; only the user has access to it. Even the Bitwarden team cannot unlock a user’s protected data. Bitwarden seals sensitive information with end-to-end AES-256 bit encryption, salted hashing, and PBKDF2 SHA-256

Bitwarden is an open source password manager. The source code for Bitwarden is hosted on GitHub and everyone is free to review, audit, and contribute to the Bitwarden codebase. 

Along with making the Bitwarden codebase accessible to the open source community, Bitwarden is also periodically vetted by third parties offering security assessments and penetration testing. Bitwarden has also completed thorough security audits and cryptographic analysis. 

What are the Bitwarden download options?

For individual users, Bitwarden can be downloaded onto Windows, macOS, and Linux desktops with native applications. Users also have the option of integrating Bitwarden through web browser extensions, such as (but not limited to) Google Chrome and Safari). And of course, users who want to access Bitwarden on their mobile devices can easily download it from the App Store, Google Play, or F-Droid. 

Business users can start by signing up for a 7-day Teams free trial or a 7-day Enterprise free trial. There are many resources on the Learning Center to help you learn how to use Bitwarden. If you still have questions, visit the live weekly demo to speak directly with the Bitwarden team.

What are some key features for individuals and businesses?

Individuals

Individual users of Bitwarden can select from one of three account options: a free account, a premium account (less than $1 a month at $10 billed annually), and a families account ($3.33 a month at $40 billed annually). 

The free account offers unlimited passwords, unlimited devices, and all the core functions. The core features included in every Bitwarden account are extensive and consist of, among other benefits:

  • Unlimited vault items

  • Free sharing with another user

  • Bitwarden Send

  • Username and password generator

  • Email alias integration

  • Advanced two-factor login

Premium accounts include all the core functions, along with the Bitwarden Authenticator, file attachments, emergency access, security reports, and more. The Families account consists of 6 premium accounts, unlimited sharing, unlimited collections, and organization storage. 

Businesses

As you consider how to use Bitwarden to best meet your needs, it’s also beneficial to understand Bitwarden business account options.

Bitwarden offers a Teams account for up to ten users at $20 per month, and $4 per user per month for teams larger than ten. Teams accounts include the premium features addressed above. With Teams, users can share sensitive data with co-workers, across departments, or throughout the company. 

The next level up is Bitwarden Enterprise, which is $6 per month, per user. Enterprise accounts include premium features, the added bonus of a complimentary Families plan for all users, and additional advanced features, such as passwordless SSO and account recovery. 

Companies with hundreds of thousands of employees will likely need an option that scales beyond Teams and Enterprise. In that case, they should reach out to Bitwarden sales for a quote. 

All businesses, whether small, medium, or large, would be wise to implement a company-wide password manager. According to the 2023 Bitwarden Password Decisions Survey of independent IT decision-makers across a range of industries, a majority (60%) report their organization experienced a cyberattack within the past year and 49% report struggling with employees who use unauthorized devices or software without IT’s approval. 

How do I get started?

Below are the first steps necessary for setting up your Bitwarden account. For a much more extensive and thorough guide about how to use Bitwarden, please view the Bitwarden Password Managers Beginner Guide video. It will walk you through setting up two-factor authentication (2FA), the Bitwarden Browser Extension, automated identities storage, and so much more.

Step 1: Create a master password

The first step is to create a master password. It should be strong, unique, and something you’ve never used before. One way to start is to write down a sentence that doesn’t make any sense - also known as a passphrase - such as “12 gallons of horseshoe berries.” While strong and unique, it’s still memorable and easy-to-type. For additional assistance, you can visit the Bitwarden password generator page. Just make sure you store your master password somewhere safe, because there is no way to reset your master password

Step 2: Create an account

To create an account, go to bitwarden.com and click on Get Started at the top right. 

From there, type in your email address, your name, and the master password you’ve created. Re-type it and then, if desired, write a master password hint or make a note about where you’ve stored your master password. Agree to the terms and hit the submit button. 

If your browser asks you if you want to save your password, hit “never.” You will then be asked to log in again using your email and password. 

Step 3: Verify your email

Once you’ve logged in, you will be prompted to verify your email address. An email will be sent to your email account that you can verify. You will then be sent back to the login page where you can log in and begin using your vault. 

Get started with Bitwarden

If you’re employed by or managing a business, learn more about how to use Bitwarden for your business and sign up for a free 7-day trial! If you’re an individual, test drive a free account. Keep in mind that you can upgrade to Premium at any point. Still have questions? Check out the free weekly demo.

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