Several of the top cybersecurity tips for small businesses are related to password security. Creating strong passwords or passphrases is key, but if your password storage capabilities are lacking, your efforts are limited, no matter how strong your password is. Utilizing a secure, easy-to-use password manager can take your enterprise’s password security to another level.
Depending on your chosen application, you can find integrated browser extensions, password generation, multifactor authentication, biometric security, mobile apps, and even more. The possibilities are only limited by your budget and your business needs. You can find free programs that function only as a password vault or pay-per-user password managers with admin consoles and additional information storage and sharing capabilities.
Why Is a Password Manager Necessary?
While you may be tempted to create one good password and then use it for every required login, that is terrible from a cybersecurity risk standpoint. You should ensure that everyone in your company uses different passwords for each login. The next temptation is to record those passwords on a piece of paper or in a notebook, word document, or note file on your phone. Those unencrypted lists are prone to theft, misplacement, accidental destruction or deletion, and many other unfortunate circumstances.
If you are spending money to secure your sensitive data, why wouldn’t you make every effort to ensure that bad actors don’t gain access to those systems through weak password security? Providing your entire staff with a password management solution enhances your cybersecurity posture. Selecting one that is easy to use and integrates wells into multiple operating systems increases the probability that your employees will use it as intended.
What to Look for in a Password Manager?
Alright, so you’ve decided to focus on updating tactics and strategies, and securing your systems and services is a new priority. After requiring strong, unique passwords for those logins, your staff has complained about remembering all these different and complex passwords, and you’ve decided to select a business password manager. Password managers offer such diverse services even when compared amongst themselves that it’s difficult to know what is important and what isn’t worth the cost. In our opinion, we’ll list some key features that you should look for and then provide you with a list of the best password managers for small businesses.
If a password manager doesn’t encrypt its password vault, then it shouldn’t even count as a secure password manager in the first place. What you need to focus on is the level of encryption that is offered. A poorly selected program could leave you vulnerable to brute-force decryption attempts which could hand all of your information over to cyber attackers.
When it comes to encryption, AES is the gold standard. Without getting into the technical details, suffice it to say that if AES is good enough for the National Security Agency and online banking, it should be sufficient for your needs. AES 256-bit encryption is currently the top of the line, and while the downside is that it requires the most computing power and, therefore, battery drain of all AES encryption levels, since we’re only talking about a password vault that con is rather irrelevant due to the size of data being encrypted and decrypted. AES 256-bit encryption is impossible to brute force, and we recommend nothing less for your password manager.
Master Password Recovery Options
A handful of password managers don’t offer you the ability to regain account access if you lose or forget the master password you use to access your password vault. While this may seem trivial, you don’t want to be locked out of your account at a critical time with no way to recover access to any of your services.
This is a security feature in and of itself, as it prevents the service from retaining any information about you that criminals can use to gain unauthorized access. This is termed zero knowledge. The problem is that you and all your employees are human, and at one point, at least one of you is bound to forget or lose that important password. I know I have. Personally, I wouldn’t decide against a service if the only negative is the lack of master password recovery. It’s easy enough to store that password inside another password manager. But it is important to consider a service's pros and cons.
If one access point stands between you and all of the login credentials to your business services, we recommend using multifactor authentication to gain access. There are many options on the table, from email, text message, or stand-alone authenticator apps. However, choosing a password manager with multifactor authentication capabilities and turning them on is a best practice.
Especially for small businesses, device compatibility is a major factor. Your employees will likely be accessing the service from a mix of company and personally-owned devices, so your password manager must be compatible with at least the most commonly used devices and operating systems.
Several things can set apart a password manager for small businesses and those for personal use. Multiple user access, the ability to share passwords, and secure document storage are just a few business activities necessary for a password manager that a regular consumer account would not need. No one knows your business and its needs better than you do, but knowing that these additional features are possible with some password vaults may sway your decision.
Top 8 Small Business Password Managers
Before we get down to business, it’s important to note that these password managers are presented in no specific order. We also didn’t factor in the specific costs to our list. Relative cost may be considered, but promotions and custom quotes can change the list price to the point where we didn’t feel it would be fair to include them outright.
First up, NordPass is brought to you by the same developer as NordVPN. As professionals in the privacy space, they deliver an impressive product, as you might expect. While a free version is available, it’s limited to one user with one password vault on one device, but it does allow unlimited password storage. The premium plans come in Business with up to 250 users and Enterprise with an unlimited amount.
Our favorite feature of NordPass is the admin console. It provides unique metrics that allow you to scan your enterprise's overall password and security health. It also lets you set business-wide controls and even allows you to recover access to a user’s account even if they’ve lost their master password. In addition to passwords, you can store and share credit card information, notes, and other details in a cloud-based web vault or on specific mobile apps or extensions for an impressive number of browsers. NordPass is top-tier, but it can be pricey with its per-user payment model.
The beauty of Dashlane is its ease of use. Features galore do you no good if they’re locked behind a difficult-to-understand admin console or a complicated user interface. That only leads to you paying for perks you struggle to implement. Dashlane features a simple user interface that can have employees up and running in around five minutes and a straightforward admin console. Managing permissions, creating company-wide logins, and sharing information with specific users is a breeze, as is terminating those permissions when employees change roles or leave.
Dashlane offers SSO integration, use over VPN, two-factor authentication, and dark web monitoring. Not only does Dashlane detect compromised credentials on the dark web, but it also provides actionable steps to rectify the problem and secure your accounts. You also receive alerts should employees create weak passwords, reuse passwords, or fall victim to a breach. The only two tiers of business service are Dashlane Teams and Dashlane Business. The perk of the top-of-line service is the single sign-on features and a free Dashlane Premium Family plan for every user. While it isn’t the cheapest, they offer a 30-day free trial to show why Dashlane makes a solid case for the best password manager for small businesses.
Bitwarden provides one of the most substantial offerings in their free version but has enough perks in their premium tier to make it a worthwhile upgrade. Again, unlimited password storage, password generation, and encrypted data storage and sharing are all included. Bitwarden features end-to-end encryption, and it’s accessible across platforms, meaning that you can share data across mobile and desktop applications and the cloud, all within their encrypted space.
As an open-source and third-party audited service, Bitwarden provides compliance with all major data privacy regulations. They also offer detailed audit logs and single sign-on features but only in their upgraded version. You must also pay for the premium tier service to increase your user count.
LastPass bills itself as a comprehensive, scalable business password manager. It offers various tiers of use, starting with a single device encrypted vault for free and ranging up to 50 unique sign-on for their Teams membership and an unlimited number of employees in their Business tier. All levels are equipped with AES 256-bit encryption, but there is a noticeable difference when you tip over into the paid plans. LastPass also offers dark web monitoring for an added layer of data breach protection.
You can generate secure passwords, share documents and other data securely, and autofill logins, and it’s compatible with most operating systems and mobile devices. You can even access an admin console where you can customize security policies for your staff, like geofencing logins, although this is limited in the Teams subscription. Shared documents to groups are limited only to Business tier members, and LastPass is not compatible if you’re running virtual desktops. This service is most beneficial at the Business tier, but you may pay more for services included elsewhere for less.
While it is one of the more expensive programs on our list, 1Password delivers many features, and that’s before you even consider its custom enterprise option. Some small businesses can get by with their entry-level Teams option. Still, for anyone looking for more than 20 users or those seeking added functionality, the Business tier is likely the way to go. The upgrade to Business rewards you with VIP support, free family accounts for all users, customized roles, usage reports, and detailed vault access controls.
For Enterprise level members, you can significantly customize the features you receive, which also comes with an equally customized bill. Enterprise comes with a dedicated account manager, onboarding engineer, and more. The 1Password Watchtower gives you an overview of your company’s password security, and their browser-based 1Password X lets you use logins regardless of what OS you may be running.
Keeper is another zero-knowledge password manager for small businesses. Users can share encrypted files, passwords, and admins can implement many rules and conditions across groups of users and company-wide. A nice feature is an ability to use role-based groups so that every individual user doesn’t need to be independently configured, only added to an existing role. Keeper also boasts zero trust architecture and has a wealth of training and support services, including videos. While they are comparatively priced, add-on features can significantly inflate your cost, especially considering that many other services include these same features as a base part of their business or enterprise plans.
Next, we have a service that focuses almost exclusively on businesses. Zoho Vault does offer a limited personal use program, but its features and structure make it clear that businesses are its intended market. They take an interesting stance by not altering their tier services by features but by what programs and systems they can interface with. Zoho includes granular level control over users, content, and roles in all of their tiers, but full integration with Azure and programs like Okta require their Enterprise level services. Small businesses may be able to find a diamond in the rough here depending on what they’re looking for, as Zoho Vault’s base business plan includes G-suite integration and retails for less than $1 per user.
RoboForm is our final entry on this list, and they share all the main features of most of our other members. AES 256-bit encryption, unlimited passwords, password and encrypted file sharing, one-click login, autofill, and SSO are all offered. Their user interface is rather basic but offers offline and emergency access capabilities. Emergency access is a business-only feature that lets you restore account access without loss of data from the admin console. RoboForm is one of the few competitors that also offer discounts for the length of the contract term selected.
While we didn’t rank these services outright, if you twisted our arm, we would agree that 1Password is our top pick for the best password manager for small businesses because it provides the right range of features per value with exceptional security and a wide breadth of integrations.
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