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Ask HN: How comfortable do you feel using cloud-based password managers?
176 points by bishala on Sept 8, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 192 comments
Even though cloud based password managers have been around for a long time now, I never felt comfortable using them - the idea of handing over my important login details to some third party company seemed really weird to me. Most people might not care but the HN crowd are generally security conscious or say paranoid about security(for good reasons). But from password managers related threads, its apparent that many of you use them. So I wanted to get a general idea of how HN users feel about them.

1Password has always offered the best usability for me. Many other password managers (eg LastPass) have failed, for instance, to work with the AWS sign in page and some other tricky websites. 1Password UX is also well polished in other ways and is nice to use. I consider this kind of good usability to significantly increase my quality of life, since I login to various online services all the time and I want to eliminate as much hassle as possible.

I realize all this requires a great deal of trust in the maker of 1Password having done things right and currently I have that trust. This may change in the future of course.

I also use 1Pasword. A while back there was a bit of a hullabaloo regarding the ability to extract passwords stored in 1P (and other password managers) from a memory dump[1].

I sent an email to the support team at the time asking some technical questions that the security report raised for me, and wondering how the team was planning to evolve the product going forward. They sent back a very in depth, detailed answer that included info about some of the experiments they were doing to decrease the amount of time passwords were decrypted in memory, along with looking into Rust for better direct memory management than they could get with C# or Swift. All in all, the care and quality of the response gave me a great impression of the team and of their approach to user interactions.

[1]: https://www.securityevaluators.com/casestudies/password-mana...

I read up on their blogs and as much technical explanation as I could find, and by far 1Password seems to be the best with a cloud offering.

Also Apple buying into using 1Password company wide helps gain some trust (I am sure there was some serious auditing): https://medium.com/enrique-dans/apple-and-1passwords-deal-sh...

> Also Apple buying into using 1Password company wide

Huh! One would assume, they use Keychain with iCloud?

The biggest problem with keychain for me is that it's only _your_ passwords. If you need to share things, then it's useless. 1Password is great for keeping logins for services that are in either mine or my wife's name. (Health care, 401k etc).

I've been pretty happy with 1Password for the last 3 years or so. The only point where I had a trust problem was when they introduced subscriptions (which is fine, I happily pay software subscription fees for good software, because that way the software is sustainable), but migration involved creating an online account and entering my secret password in my browser. That is something I always find scary: yes, they do assure me that it's just locally-run JavaScript, and the password never leaves my computer, but still.

In other words, I am somewhat scared, but the usability is so fantastic that I find the compromise reasonable, especially with 2FA (TOTP or U2F using YubiKey).

Now, if only Apple finally learned that prompting me for my Apple ID password in a modal popup whenever they feel like it, without the ability to auto-fill is a no-no...

The main issue of 1Password is the subpart Linux support (there only are browser extensions).

It becomes hard to discuss "1Password for Linux" without knowing if you mean 1Password.com or the old 1Password, with .opvault locally and/or synced to Dropbox-esque

However, if it's the latter, KeePassXC now knows how to read the .opvault format: https://github.com/keepassxreboot/keepassxc/issues/1462 I could imagine teaching it to write their opvault file format, too, but at the time it wasn't a use-case that I needed

I would actually suspect teaching KeePassXC to read the 1Password.com cached vault would be even easier, since they now use sqlite3 for storage, but it would still -- afaik -- be confined to your local machine since their web API is undocumented

There is also a command line application: https://support.1password.com/command-line-getting-started/

I'm a cloud 1pass customer, but the UX leaves something to be desired, especially for a cloud app.

When adding an account to 1pass, it's important to click [save] before closing the tab, otherwise it's lost. (Having to pull passwords out of the PW generator history is a hack.) (It does support my belief/their claim that the pw decryption is done locally though.) To be fair, it used to be that you could accidentally click on the left pane and lose the unsaved account - they've fixed that in the latest of the 1PasswordX extension.

I haven't moved my entire life to 1password, so I don't have, eg, my passport or SSN or any outdoor license's in the system, and the inclusion of such things degrades my user experience - imo the new button should make a new login, with a button on that panel/page to change type, rather than making me pick which type of secret I'd like to create when I hit the [+].

I have, however, added my credit cards, but as far as UX, in the main UI, I click on the credit card category, then click on the search and try to search for a website login, only to have 0 results. Not surprising, I don't have an ycombinator credit card, but search results pane could surface hits in other categories if there are zero hits in the selected category - most (all?) of the data in 1 password is text, so I'm doubtful that full-text search is that expensive.

1PasswordX (the obvious chrome extension to install) doesn't work with TouchID without some extra configuring. (I set that for less technical people in my life, and that only came up after asking them why they stopped using 1pass.)

I'll give them a bit of pass on the difficulty of adding accounts on ios, but where many/most websites use email as username these days, maybe that could be autofilled when adding/creating logins manually?

And for my gripe about cloudification - I'm reasonably happy to pay a subscription (I currently pay for one, and am hopeful they're working on ^ UX issues), but every time I add something to 1pass, I question if adding secrets to a cloud/SaaS app, is going to royally fuck me over if AgileBits ever shuts down. Being able to save file-based backups to various places was reassuring. (Yes, this is a UX issue - it's not great if a customer questions if they want your product, each time they make the product more useful for themselves.) (See also: Trying to choose a Netflix title to watch, and giving up in disgust.)

TBC, I'm a (reasonably) happy customer, but I wouldn't hold up their UX as "well polished". I don't use it as a selling point when trying to convert people, certainly. At least I don't have to interact with it for the most part - I click into a password field, authenticate, and click autofill.

I love 1Password but haven't upgraded specifically because of the cloud service. All my stuff is already in Dropbox, and 1Password essentially came to it's old users touting a subscription fee to a functionally identical service. Why am I paying them every month to store my passwords when I'm already storing them myself?

I'm sure I'll have to cave at some point what with the ongoing march of progress, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth whenever a previously purchased product (i.e. 1Password) suddenly is asking for more money with no perceived benefit to me, other than getting to continue using a product I already bought.

They make it very non-obvious, but you can buy a standalone license for 1p v7 after downloading here: https://1password.com/downloads/

I’m actually on the same boat, and I haven’t been able to upgrade to any of the newer releases of 1Password due to this. I feel exactly the same way. I refuse to cave though!

The only feature I’m missing with my old old 1Password is Have I Been Pwned integration, and that seems iffy now that it’s shutting down.

Software has switched to a subscriptions, but They don’t offer any benefit over the original purchase price structure to users. It feels like the ultimate admission that the product has reached maturity, and so it’s time to rent seek.

I’ve considered switching to Bitwarden or Firefox Lockwise, but honestly, 1Password still works, and so there isn’t much impetus to migrate.

I upgraded to 7 with the license payment ($49 seemed fair to me). Biggest value add with the upgrade is the google authenticator integration which is useful for sites that support it.

I would stop upgrading if agilebits ever drop local vault support though.

> and I haven’t been able to upgrade to any of the newer releases

Why not, i use iCloud to store my 1Password data, and i still use the latest macOS 1Password version (7 i believe). It's a standalone app without a subscription (i would never pay for a subscription just because they tacked on a cloud service I don't need, to justify the subscription model...)

Maybe it’s different for iCloud users, because 1Password doesn’t let me upgrade to version 7 without paying for a cloud subscription (by the way, I use Dropbox for my data).

If i remember correct, 1PW7 from the App Store is subscription only, and if you want a single licence you have to get 1PW direct from AgileBits.


I've used pretty much every password manager under the sun at one point or another. Lastpass, 1Password, Bitwarden, Dashlane, Remembear, KeePass(X) and I've finally settled on regular ol' pass.

I never really understood how it "syncs" but it's just git! Push and pull to update on every device. I use a private repo since site names are still metadata. You could put the whole directory tree in a tomb as well but that extension is only supported on mac only or something.

Pass is the one thing that seems fairly universal I think and it's all just text files which makes things really nice. No worrying about will it work on mobile or if the browser extension is useless without an application.

For example, 1Password X is a standalone extension so you could use it on Linux while Dashlane requires the desktop application running on the host. The connection works but isn't always reliable when running non-natively ie WINE

As for security, they're all fairly well audited I think? Remembear and 1Password both have external audits they pass, and provide remediation plans for any findings. Probably the same with Lastpass. Personally, I don't really think about it that much so I don't have a good answer. You can interpret that as me trusting providers but I have no real idea. I mainly just focus on the usability hah

Bitwarden has also had an external audit.

With regards to Bitwarden, it has a wordphrase on the account which only you know. You can verify this when you connect to the cloud. You can run the server within your own cloud.

With the cloud, you can assume that the government has access to the encrypted database. If you have a strong password, it will take them longer to brute-force your database. We are talking about two governments here: the US government (most password managers are from US companies and are hosted in US clouds) and your own (who can attempt to ask for the data), this is no issue, but I believe you should by default not trust them. This is important because it should be part of your risk assessment.

It would probably be easier to attempt a MITM (with help of the password manager sysadmin). I've once seen a fake Lastpass login page (back when I used Lastpass).

Almost all password managers can import/export their database to CSV. This allows you to avoid a vendor lock-in.

> You can run the server within your own cloud

For me there is a tradeoff. On one hand, Bitwarden's online offering where you trust them with your data is convenient, but also a single point of failure. If their server goes offline, you can't access your passwords (And servers do go down). On the other hand you can repair your own instance if it goes down and have full control over it. The only caveat with self-hosting being the overhead. Regular non-techie people just don't have the time or intellectual curiosity to experiment with self-hosting. For me personally I just sync a Keepass database with Dropbox and call it a day.

Agreed w/your post in general.

> On one hand, Bitwarden's online offering where you trust them with your data is convenient, but also a single point of failure.

Put your network connectivity off, and try to relogin to Bitwarden. It will work. I just tried it. The only downside is that the database might not be synced (which, I admit, can be a problem).

> The only caveat with self-hosting being the overhead. Regular non-techie people just don't have the time or intellectual curiosity to experiment with self-hosting.

I don't know the password to connect to my (hypothetical) self-hosted Bitwarden instance. Because of the above though, that would not be an issue.

Hence I am going to switch to self-hosting. There's a Rust implementation with Docker image.

>Put your network connectivity off, and try to relogin to Bitwarden. It will work.

That's correct, but the parent comment is also correct about the single point of failure. The Bitwarden server could erase your database for some reason (bug, hack…), and it would sync on all your devices, erasing all your data.

What operational security risks do you have to be aware of when self hosting passwords?

This is a great question which everyone should ask themselves.

It has to be user-friendly enough (which Bitwarden IMO is). You need to do a CIA threat assessment yourself.

Confidentiality I solve by using WireGuard; hence I don't mind if I use HTTP or HTTPS with self signed certificate. You might be able to use Lets Encrypt instead. Integrity I solve with offsite backups of the most important data. Availability is solved by having decent uptime on my cable provider, about 25 mbit upload. I also used RAID1 on my server. My server is a Synology NAS with Docker.

If that gets compromised by hackers, they have access to private data of mine anyway. If you include the government in your threat assessment they are very likely able to get access to your server (VPS or my example). That is why I prefer to stick to my local government/jurisdiction. I'm already bound by them anyway. If they want to screw me over (including working together with US government) they can and (since we are part of Nine Eyes) likely will.


> With the cloud, you can assume that the government has access to the encrypted database. If you have a strong password, it will take them longer to brute-force your database. We are talking about two governments here: the US government (most password managers are from US companies and are hosted in US clouds) and your own (who can attempt to ask for the data), this is no issue, but I believe you should by default not trust them. This is important because it should be part of your risk assessment.

If it were just the risk of brute-forcing, I have a hard time believing this to be a real problem. Use a secure enough passphrase etc (and if that's not good enough, they could also just brute force into most of your accounts anyway). IMO the relevant thread model is more that they can convince / coerce / do it themselves the provider to change the javascript that does the client side decryption.

I use bitwarden for a good fraction of my login data, because I don't currently consider this part of my thread model...

I'm not fully convinced by bitwarden, especially the 2nd factor integration IMO isn't good enough. But I've not had enough to time to look much further.

I wish there were something that used (as a second round of encryption) a key residing on a yubikey to decrypt the password of individual entries, without going through gpg. Going through gpg just seems to complicated and fragile to me, and has annoying restrictions like not really allowing multiple yubikeys.

> IMO the relevant thread model is more that they can convince / coerce / do it themselves the provider to change the javascript that does the client side decryption.

Yes, this is the MITM I referred to in another post. I'm not sure the fingerprint phrase [1] is adequate to mitigate that danger

> I wish there were something that used (as a second round of encryption) a key residing on a yubikey to decrypt the password of individual entries, without going through gpg. Going through gpg just seems to complicated and fragile to me, and has annoying restrictions like not really allowing multiple yubikeys.

I currently use 2 YubiKeys with OTP and 2 YubiKeys plus 2 Solos with FIDO U2F on top of an Authenticator App as backup. There's backup codes as well. E-mail or SMS I prefer not to use (they don't provide SMS AFAIK but do provide Duo). I plan on fine-tuning this once I receive my new smartphone with NFC and my Somu; then I will likely remove some of these keys, reset them, and sell them.

[1] https://help.bitwarden.com/article/fingerprint-phrase/

I'm guessing "regular ol' pass" is "pass the standard unix password manager" https://www.passwordstore.org/ ?

Just thought I'd stick that here to save others the googling.

Ah sorry, yes! I was tapping that out rapidly on my phone because I had gotten excited seeing a password manager thread. Maybe too much because I left the shower running before I realized I better wrap up my comment and stop being wasteful haha

Not to mention pass, due to its connection to GnuPG, can protect secrets using Yubikey that require 6 digit PIN (will lock after 3 tries) and touching the blinking dot.

Interesting. I've never used pass, but this thread is making it sound interesting. Does it support fallbacks (multiple keys, other forms of credentials) simultaneously?

Multiple keys: yes, through a config file (can be also useful for team access). I'm not sure about "other forms of credentials" though. Pass is just a simple GnuPG wrapper if gpg can do something pass can do it too.

How do access your passwords from your phone?

There's an Andriod client for that: https://github.com/zeapo/Android-Password-Store#readme

Plenty of other extensions, managers here: https://www.passwordstore.org/#other

See sibling comment. Additionally it's possible to use the same Yubikey token on laptop and phone (through NFC or USB). Convenient and secure!

Second benefit is Yubikey can hold authentication subkey that can be used to SSH to a server on a phone.

I'd love to start using pass but I find managing gpg keys troubling (perhaps due to my lack of knowledge). Does your setup require copying the same key to each device? What would happen if someone got your gpg key? What would happen if you lost the key?

I've made a cheatsheet[1] for gopass, which is the same but also includes multi stores (you could have a personal store, and a shared store with your work team, synchronizing to different git repos).

Edit: to export the public key you can search Google, I'd recommend saving it in a yubikey or in a usb with encryption.

1: https://woile.github.io/gopass-cheat-sheet/

pass can encrypt to multiple keys. I use one key for my laptop and one for my phone. If someone gets your gpg key then they can decrypt all your passwords if they also get the repository. It would be prudent to change all your passwords in this case (pass-rotate could help a little with this). If you lose the key, you lose access to all your passwords.

worth also noting that that when I used to use Android, I didn't need multiple keys - my GPG key was on my yubikey neo, and i could plug it into my laptop to decrypt passwords there or tap it to my phone to decrypt passwords there. not possible on iOS due to Apple not opening up NFC to developers, so now I have pass set up to encrypt to two keys.

I think GPG keys get a lot of flack for not being the most user friendly thing and probably fair enough. The nature of them having to remain secret, makes managing them a bit confusing. I don't use mine for anything more than signing commits and (rarely) encrypting secrets

Personally, I use OpenKeychain[1] on Android, Kleopatra[2] on Linux, GPG Suite[3] on macOS and Pass[4] for iOS/iPadOS

Phew, that's a lotta apps but you can just pick and choose whatever you prefer. I have no idea about Windows myself. Once I imported my keys (public + private) into each application, I never really had to touch them again.

As I mentioned, I use my GPG key for signing my commits. I think I saved my password to my laptops keychain so it automatically signs my commits without my interaction.

Similarly, Pass automatically encrypts and decrypts everything without my interaction. Whether that's a good idea security wise aside, it works fairly seamlessly. Pass on my iPad is quite literally just a pull to refresh. I would have thought it'd be much more painful with all the GPG nonsense in play!

So, back to your questions:

> Does your setup require copying the same key to each device?

Yes but only once. It may also require entering your password anywhere from everytime to never depending on your settings. For my android device, I have to do it once every restart but after that, a process keeps my "store" open for example.

> What would happen if someone got your gpg key?

Presumably they could take all of my passwords and sign my Git commits as if they were me.

Personally, I have no strong investment in my GPG key, nor am I someone well known so this would have little to no effect beyond being a big annoyance. I would still own my email account so I'd still be able to reset the majority of my passwords.

Actually, I don't know my email password (since it's randomly generated) so I'd have to cross my fingers and hope the attacker hasn't revoked any of my sessions. Once again, no different than any other password manager. At least losing the key would be my fault, and not that of a third party I suppose.

> What would happen if you lost the key?

Presumably I'd lose all of my passwords but once again, that's no different than the single master password setup of those cloud based password managers.

I didn't realize until I looked it up just now but you can apparently generate a revocation certificate, separate from your key. From what it says on the tin, I imagine you can keep that safe and if you did lose your key, use it to tell any of the popular key servers that it's gone.

That wouldn't do anything to get your password back though, it would just signal to anyone looking up your key, that they shouldn't trust it.

Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent but the best way to learn is to just play around with GPG keys. The only reason I know the little I do is purely through making mistake :) I went through heaps of keys myself (I forget why) before I finally settled on my current one. You can even see some revoked ones here http://keys.gnupg.net/pks/lookup?search=marcus%40thingsima.d...

[1] https://www.openkeychain.org/ [2] https://www.openpgp.org/software/kleopatra/ and https://kde.org/applications/utilities/org.kde.kleopatra [3] https://gpgtools.org/ [4] https://github.com/mssun/passforios

For Windows there is Gpg4win, which includes a port of Kleopatra.

Thanks! I'm actually moving to a Windows environment for development shortly so this is handy to know. I'll likely just use pass via WSL2 but I might give gpg4win a shot too

Thanks for taking the time to answer! It's great to hear the system has good usability on multiple platforms once set up.

I guess my problem has been trying to make things perfect at once, and learning about subkeys and revocation certificates and how they apply to pass (they don't, I think) is a lot of work.

Maybe I'll just try it out, keeping my email and money-related passwords out of the equation for now.

> Pass on my iPad is quite literally just a pull to refresh. I would have thought it'd be much more painful with all the GPG nonsense in play!

FWIW, the pull to refresh effectively just runs `git pull`. GPG isn't involved.

Ah yup yup, that is true. For some reason, I always have this idea that it's pulling and decrypting everything. Gotta remind myself that computers are actually fast and decryption can happen on the fly :)

Sadly this isn’t a modern solution. People have smartphones and occasionally have to login to Windows (without WSL).

While I’d love for everything I use to provide an easily accessible *nix shell it just isn’t practical for phone use or modern computing environment where you can access cloud data using web services from any internet connected computers/devices.

I have a smartphone and use pass via the app Android Password Store [1]. You have to set up your GPG key of course and also an SSH key for the sync with the remote repository, but once that’s done, it works perfectly fine.

[1] https://github.com/zeapo/Android-Password-Store

There are other clients: https://www.passwordstore.org/#other

FWIW, using Termux on Android enables practical phone use of many command line programs.

That's why I decided to trust a commercial password manager (in this case, 1Password). Rather than trudging some unknown third party developer on each mobile platform, I'd rather trust a more official provider on all platforms (which also gives me the increased usability and larger feature set).

Since I absolutely need a cross platform password manager, especially on mobile, I felt this to be the most logical solution.

I used LastPass specifically because 1Password does not work on Linux. At least up till a year ago, which was the last time I checked, the 1Password extension doesn't run on Linux.

It really surprises me that people are using pass or any other password manager developed as open source.

Yes, the code is open source, but unless you download the code yourself and compile it, which not many people do on desktop and no one does for mobile clients, you have to trust the deploy process of a random group of people. None of the people even have to be malicious. They just have to have an insecure deploy process (which allows an attacker to insert code), which is extremely common in open source. Very few if any open source projects have audited their deploy process and have monitoring for vulnerabilities or exploits happening. It's just too time intensive/expensive for a side project someone isn't getting paid for.

I prefer to trust an organization that has gone through tons of audits. Not just on whether the client is secure (can encrypt securely), but that their software development lifecycle is secure. They also have a huge financial incentive to keep things secure, which is not the case in open source.

pass is a single ~700 line shell script wrapping gpg and optionally git.

while long for a shell script, that's pretty easy reading for a password manager, and easy enough to understand.

Yeah absolutely. But have you audited the mobile apps or the chrome extensions, etc. (Extensions can update in the background without interaction)? Every time a new release happens? Those products are created by completely different developers.

Not saying that a company could not have a malicious release. It could. I just think the odds are much lower because their release process has better security controls and is generally audited better.


I moved from Lastpass to pass(https://www.passwordstore.org/). It's by far the best decision I've made in a long time (I've moved a lot of services over to my servers and self host pretty much everything)

I use Mac, but it works on any machine to my knowledge and the great thing is:

1. Use your keys, so ONLY YOU can only decrypt it (gpg keys)

2. Has Chrome/Firefox extensions that automatically fill out passwords

3. Can upload the encrypted passwords to git to use on other machines (presumably)

4. Dead simple to use (go on terminal and generate random passwords, bunch of other goodies)

5. As said previously, it's all on your machine, no one else having access.

Is it possible to use pass with symmetric encryption?

Currently using keepass. I would migrate to pass since I enjoy managing data via command line, but what I don't like is depending on a gpg key being installed in order to use it.

What support does it have for mobile?

There are iOS and android apps. I can't speak for the android apps, but I use an open-source client on iOS.


I recently had to uninstall it because passwords weren't syncing with Apple Keychain. Should Pass for iOS sync with Apple Keychain in the first place?

I would never trust them, but more importantly I don't want to have to waste brain cycles thinking that the 300+ passwords I have saved could be compromised due to neglect that's out of my control.

I just use https://www.passwordstore.org/ and it works great (I have 300+ passwords stored for years). It's a local command line driven password manager and it's pretty great for developer based workflows because you can save multi-line strings which makes it perfect for saving API keys and other sensitive stuff, along with the password you used to sign up to the site.

It's also smart enough to copy the first line of a multi-line entry to your clipboard, so you can access your passwords to login on a site within a few seconds. Especially since you can navigate your entries on the command line with auto complete.

It also leans on GPG encryption instead of trying to invent its own security mechanism.

Does not work on mobile, right? How do you handle passwords there? Copy/paste between mac/iphone (might be insecure). And what if you did not bring your laptop?

Works on mobile. See countless comments here.

Aha! Have to check it out then.

You could say I put a lot of trust in Google, as I use the built-in password manager in Chrome. My rationale is the following:

1. My browser vendor can access my browser passwords anyway.

2. It's better to trust fewer vendors and pieces of software.

3. Copying passwords to clipboard is awfully insecure.

4. Trying to remember all passwords is also awfully insecure.

I do not save any money-related passwords. I do dream of switching to pass from time to time.

1. Is not necessarily true. If you use an open source browser like firefox, your browser vendor would absolutely not be able to access your passwords (...without creating a huge scandal where users would catch up immediately)

3. Can actually be mitigated, or other options can be used. For example, in my browser I disabled JavaScript clipboard access, so that random websites can't access my passwords. You mention pass, aan excellent non cloud option, which I personally use with a script that types in the password as if it was a keyboard - but Firefox and chrome plugins with autofill are available, and those are offline.

Your browser sends and receives tons of packets to addresses owned by the browser vendor and third party sites. After all that's its main function. Your open source browser is millions of lines of code. You think it would not be possible to exfiltrate passwords without your notice? It seems a much more practical approach to assume your browser vendor is a "good guy", as the alternative model is that you choose to do all your most sensitive computing via an adversary.

I think the premise is we would know if it already did that, and incremental code changes can be inspected to see it isn't added. So yeah, it's pretty safe to say open source makes it trustable.

That's pretty reasonable, but if I were a malicious actor looking to do something like this, I'd try to introduce different bugs at different times that combine to leak passwords. That would give plausible deniability, too. Not saying it's an easy scheme to engineer.

People inspect chrome diffs for weird changes too. Closed source software does not prevent people from noticing malware, especially in some of the most heavily scrutinized software in the world.

Regarding point 3, my point really is that just a command-line program is not enough. I need a browser plugin or a keyboard emulator. That's one more piece of software, possibly from another vendor (see point 2). But yes, you're right, using the clipboard is not required for any reasonable password manager. It just might be an easier way sometimes.

Also it's quite difficult to keep up with all the apps on my system and all of them can follow the clipboard. I didn't even consider random websites.

1. Is most certainly true. Everything you type needs to be entered, and your browser probably has undo/repeat, which means a stack of your text is available too, it's still an application at the end of the day

I agree completely with your logic, especially that a password vendor can see passwords anyways. Introducing fewer parties reduces points of failure.

I save all money related passwords... Much safer than my faulty memory or having them listed in a doc somewhere.

I have to reset approximately one money related password every two years. Usually it takes a trip to a bank and might cost five euros. I think that's not unreasonable, but I'd love a system I could trust with everything I own.

    3. Copying passwords to clipboard is awfully insecure.
Not that I am aware of. What would make it insecure?

If you log in to AWS, then visit another site, your password is still on the clipboard. 1Password clears it out after ~30 seconds, IIRC, but it's still a bit of a risk.

All processes running on your computer can read the clipboard at any time. Many have plugin systems that expose clipboard contents to plugins.

Normally when you use a password manager you have to trust the password manager, the browser and the OS. By copying to clipboard you have to trust every piece of software you ever installed and every update they later got.

>I do not save any money-related passwords. I do dream of switching to pass from time to time.

So you remember unique, high entropy passwords for all your money related sites? If not, you might be putting yourself at greater risk than syncing the passwords.

I don't have that many and the ones I use tend to enforce password type (say, a 4-number PIN as part of MFA).

But yes, I do remember a bunch of important unique passwords, and I do have to reset them occasionally by physically visiting and showing my id.

So true!

That’s an interesting perspective. I wouldn’t do it, but interesting nonetheless

Please read the following if you use chrome password manager on your phone:


TL;DR; Someone in google is sniffing autocorrect text and when they find 12 word bitcoin seed phrases they are stealing the bitcoin. This is a serious breach of trust. If someone from Google is reading this please take it seriously.

EDIT: On further research it may not categorically be someone in google if the autocorrect text is sent in plain text. Autocorrect text should not be sent in the clear though. See here for more information: https://avoid-coinomi.com

It looks like autocorrect wasn't sent in the clear at least according to one report.

This[1] report on this incident (commissioned by the wallet creators) makes me skeptical that autocorrect or Google was involved at all. I think some sort of malware or phishing to steal the seed was a much more likely attack.

[1] https://medium.com/@cipherblade/how-not-to-react-when-your-c...

I'm not sure if I believe that, but I'd never trust anyone with bitcoin seeds. I'm not sure what the risk is for passwords I'd type in my browser anyway and that I could reset with my Gmail account.

I think conceptually cloud-based password storage is trustworthy if you separate the cloud storage from the password manager software.

If both were provided by the same vendor then security motivations would not align. E.g. the vendor could reason that it's ok to do server-side encryption instead of client-side for whatever reasons. Or they could capture your master keys and decrypt old backups long after you have deleted things when compelled by a secret court order.

Separating storage and software means the software developer should consider the storage provider as potentially hostile and design the password manager accordingly.

Additionally a separate solution also increases data mobility. You can use your home server instead of cloud providers, you can move vendors instead of being locked into a single ecosystem.

That said, storing your key files offline is still another layer of security that has to be breached, storing it publicly accessible means you are only as safe as your hashed password.

Another concern, unrelated to the cloud aspect, is browser integration for password managers. It's something one should avoid since the browser extensions closely interface with the websites. It increases the risk that a bug in the extension allows a site to trick them into revealing the wrong secrets in an automated fashion.

For me: I don't trust them. You know how people often say "if you didn't want it to be public you shouldn't have put it on the internet"? Well, that. If there's anything worse than a breach that reveals my secure password it's a breach that reveals all of my passwords at once.

For other people, such as family members: I totally recommend it. It is way better than whatever password reuse they are doing now, and the chances of a breach are low enough.

My point being: I think they are overall better than not using anything, but if you have the knowledge and diligence to keep an offline encrypted file (and its backup!) up to date, then I would suggest doing that instead.

I also never felt comfortable using cloud password managers. I used to have a KeePass file on Dropbox (with an offline key file) to stay a little more in control. Synchronization worked quite well but some month ago I switched to following setup to avoid Dropbox or similar services:

I have a KeePass file and use Syncthing to share it across all my devices. The keyfile is not synced and I manually send to any new device. Syncthing works well and most KeePass clients can nicely merge two KeePass databases in case of conflicts. Firefox integration with Kee.pm is really convenient.

For me this works really well. It was easy to setup and in my opinion it is very much worth it if you want to avoid third-party hosting.

+1 for the sync/conflicts resolution of Keepass. Also I think that putting a shared database (file) on a shared folder at the office if needed is an overlooked feature..

I use a hybrid approach with Lastpass used as a password entropy storage. For important services like Github I only store half of the password in LastPass. Then I add a nonce and a generic short password.

The final password is 12-16 random characters for LastPass + 3 chars Nonce that I generate from the service name (in my head) and a short 5 character password.

If LastPass leaks the secrets no one is able to take over the accounts easily.

For services that don't matter much I just store the whole password in LastPass.

Thanks for sharing your approach. I already use the nonce+generic pass, but had not thought about your method, which I'd like to use from now on.

This is a great idea, but doesn't it involve a lot of manual work? Or is there some kind of automated way to do this?

It requires no extra work. Lastpass automatically fills out the creds, I have to type a few extra characters in password input and press login. Only tiny annoyance is pressing No in Lastpass "Do you want to update your password?".

Doesn't nonce mean "number used once"? Seems like you would have to use the same number every time, no?

I would trust them but I don't take the risk of "trust". There could be always issues which are out of your or the Password Managers control, e.g. crypto issues and also long term issues like quantum computing.

Due to this, I keep all of my passwords offline, as far as possible. For mobility and comfort reasons, I developed Authorizer (https://github.com/tejado/Authorizer):

"A Password Manager for Android with Auto-Type over USB and Bluetooth, OTP and much more.

The idea behind Authorizer is, to use old smartphones as a hardware password manager only. To avoid manual typing of long and complex passwords everytime you need them, Authorizer provides Auto-Type features over USB and Bluetooth. It pretends to be a keyboard (e.g. over an USB On-The-Go adapter) and with a button press inside the app, it will automatically type the password for you on your pc, laptop, tablet or other smartphone."

It took me a while to come around, but Bitwarden finally convinced me. Both the clients and servers (there are third-party implementations) are open-source and besides the security audit they had some time ago, I also checked some components myself to reassure myself that all outgoing data is in fact encrypted and that the decryption is done client-side.

The only way I can see someone getting to my passwords is by getting malicious code into the browser extension and/or mobile app. That means the only viable attacks are through Mozilla and Google, who I already have to trust for my browser and mobile OS.

I too, resisted the urge to go with a password manager for a long time and finally ended up with Bitwarden. I like that its OSS and I have the option of running it myself, if necessary. More importantly, I can pay someone to run it for me; hopefully this means they will stick around.

I don't really mind having my passwords hosted somewhere else by someone else. I don't really trust myself to do it properly and I have a lot of other things to worry about. If I ever end up being an "important" person I can always export my passwords and save them locally. Or more likely run my own instance of Bitwarden.

NOTE: Reading through most of the answers here makes me think that everyone is hording state secrets or has billions of $$$ in the bank. I just want to log into my airline and check in for my flight, or comment on HN. I'm not trying to keep a state actor at bay.

Bitwarden is open source.

Lastpass has has intrusion in the past 2015 and are closed source.

Site below has a list of some security incidents related to password managers. https://password-managers.bestreviews.net/faq/which-password...

A secure password manager would need to have the decryption keys offline client side save from central attacks.

I tried 1Password but finally resolved to use iCloud keychain after watching this BlackHat 2016 video https://youtu.be/BLGFriOKz6U.

I mean as far as I already trust their OS nothing can really protect me from being spied by them if they are ill intentioned, so as long as they are serious and patch their security flaw on a timely manner I can live with that. Beside it come as a free plan if you don't need more than 5GB of iCloud storage.

I'd figure using an external password manager just add another third party I need to trust and the fact that 1Password offer browser app interface (on top of native) don't reassure me in any way.

Of course if I'd ever need to reassess my threat model because I can't trust Apple anymore, I will quit iCloud service at the same time as their OS and go full FOSS.

Sometime ago, I bought 1Password for iOS, then Mac, mostly for convenience and I was happy with it until I got no viable way to use it on Windows simply because their client still in early development sucked. After some time again they stopped caring about the local db feature and for me that was it. I Moved immediately to Keepass and never looked back. The reason was because I can find a client for nearly every platform possible and because I store MY OWN database where I want.

I prefer to store KeePass encrypted dB on Dropbox than going for 1Password cloud.

Plus Keepass is opensource...

This is also what I do. Password managers are one of those few applications where I find it vitally important to not be subject to the whims of a particular company. Even semi-abandonware (like some things I used pre-KeePass) is preferable to an actively maintained product, if said abandonware is open source and something I can keep tweaking into working.

I also find it extremely important for my password manager to be available on EVERY platform I might use. Not just the popular ones a company can make a business case to support. Historically this has been a bigger issue than at present, but its still a big one to me.

My company uses some enterprise Lastpass, and I would never give a dime for it myself. Not because of the quality, but because if the UX. I constantly have issues to find credentials shared with me, the plug-in is constantly interrupting my usual flow, and so on. Just not a fan. Personally I use KeePass. I know there are some security concerns with the application itself, but it has served me well.

Just because of the LastPass experience I'm not sure would I try something else.

This is exactly the boat that I was in for a number of years. I also have a few security concerns regarding bad practices of theirs that they essentially told me they didn't care about.

About a month ago I switched to BitWarden and it's been phenomenal. The UI is great, as is their mobile application. I've also heard good things about KeePass.

Same way I feel about security domains at work: you either have to trust encryption, or never use any network. It’s that binary.

At work I’ll see people — the security team, usually — taking some already-encrypted thing and re-hardening it to the nth degree. I think that’s stupid. If you don’t trust your encryption, don’t bother using it. If you do trust it, stop there. It’s maths. It’s proven.

I feel the same about 1Password. I trust that they encrypt my stuff with trusted encryption. That’s it.

It's not about trusting the encryption, it's about trusting who does the encryption.

If you are encrypting a password store and using the cloud only for sync, you're trusting an encryption standard.

If you are using a cloud based password manager from a service provider, they may be using encryption, but your trust has to be in the company and their employees.

It's a rather large distinction.

>maths. It’s proven.

No they are not. That’s one of the things that makes designing correct crypto systems difficult. Going the wrong way through most cryptographic trap doors is conjectured to be difficult but I’m unaware of a single one that’s proven.

The one-time pad has been proven to have perfect secrecy.

Given a ciphertext, the only information available is its length.

This makes a lot of assumptions:

You have a way to securely exchange or store the one time pad (at that point just use slices of the pad as passwords)

The pad is sufficiently random

This was how RC4 was used to encrypt things; RC4 is fundamentally a random number generator. To use it you throw away the first so many bytes (because they could be used to recover the state of the machine.) and then the rest was used as a pad. Unfortunetly patterns in the data can make it easy to recover the raw RC4 pad (uncompressed blank bitmaps for example) and this can be used (again) to recover the state of the machine generating the numbers. On top of that it turns out RC4 is a lot more predictable than people originally thought.

Essentially all a one time pad does is move the problem somewhere else, often that other place isn't great.

Lots of truth there, but there is an argument to be made about layers of security. If the second level of encryption is of very different kind than the first (different encryption library made by different people), sometimes the hassle with it may be worth it.

For example, some backup providers will encrypt your data for transport to their machines and then reencrypt them for storage. Would you trust TLS implementations in the path and provider's application to protect your data? Or would you rather encrypt yourself and only then let the provider handle it?

I'm not comfortable at all using them. For one thing, I can't tell how they're really storing the passwords, or what kind of encryption they're using there, so I end up being forced to merely trust they're doing the right thing rather than giving backdoors to others or rolling out their own crypto or using some setup that can be reversed on their side.

Additionally, I also believe that:

1. I should have access to all my passwords without a working or stable internet connection

2. And that I should leave as few ways for social media/cancel culture pressure to affect my life as possible.

Hence offline systems like KeePass work fine for me. I can trust they're not providing backdoors, I don't have to worry about a third party server getting hacked, they're accessible offline and if I end up in a controversy, my enemies can't do anything to get my account suspended or terminated.

If it helps, Bitwarden, including server, is open source. Of course that isn't a panacea by any means, but you can at least build it yourself and glance over the code. For me I prefer it to closed source for sure, and honestly even if the UI isn’t as pretty Bitwarden checks all of my boxes and tends to work really well across the platforms I use it on, including Linux, and it doesn’t have the same extension security troubles as many other password managers have had (1password prior to 1password X suffered due to communication with a desktop app and the complications that brings. Lastpass doesn’t do that, but has had arbitrary code execution vulnerabilities in their extension.)

And of course, Keepass XC is always a very formidable password manager.

I've been using Apple's iCloud Keychain since it was first released 6 years ago. It's well-integrated so I don't need to think about it. I'm already trusting their OS, and if it gets compromised, at least I won't be alone.

I think it's just stupid to trust anyone with your passwords even when they are encrypted.

We all know how just after some years all encryption can be rendered useless by some technical advancement or mathematical brake-through (potentially).

In my opinion you are far better off with some device (mooltipass, yubikey) that holds your credentials because you have physical control over it and the chances your encrypted passwords are stolen are much lower than going with the cloud option.

This isn't about being paranoid but about minimizing the risk of ones credential being exposed/compromised.

We trust entities far too much for my taste and next to credentials I also don't feel comfortable with private pictures and videos of/with me being uploaded to some cloud.

1. Something could go wrong while transport (poor SSL/TLS, compromised devices in between (MITM) & weak crypto) 2. Something could go wrong on the companies side (failure to implement crypto properly, usage of weak crypto, bad server security) 3. Most encryption can be broken and it probably will be broken. This isn't about the fear of quantum computing but plain logic. Crypto often relies on some mathematical assumption that states that no one can break something in a realistic amount of time (e.g. discrete logarithms) which is rendered useless by superior equipment/power to calculate. Then there is implementation details which are too complex (or the people who implement it just don't take enough care) to be executed in the correct (=secure) way, easily.

This is a problem we can see on many waypoints in these scenarios and this fact for itself increases the risk of being compromised in a scale I'll always try to weigh in and to minimize.

I'm currently using LastPass, keeping my bank, anything that can control my bank, and my email(s), but I wouldn't mind switching to something less centralized.

It's my opinion that you end up having to trust someone, and having a password manager that I can arbitrarily make new identities with secure passwords automagically outweighs the small (imo) chance that the password manager is untrustworthy.

I only trust them when they're open-source and I can self-host it on my own hardware. That's why I settled for Bitwarden (or to be more exact, bitwarden-rs).

I don't trust any company with my passwords. I use keepassx and sync from my laptop to my Android devices using Syncthing. Ideally I could use a self hosted cloud password manager, but it's a larger attack surface than a local one.

After I lost one copy of my passwords database in Dashlane, I've moved to Firefox Sync. Then years later, after switching to Vivaldi I've pick offline Enpass but I still have KeepassX as backup solution if they would decide to abandon their business.

I'm not a fan of cloud storage that much anyway - not after Dropbox invited C. Rice to board of directors. [1]

[1]- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Dropbox#April_201...

I don’t trust them 100% but I don’t trust myself to keep a file-based one (such as keepass) working without losing the file either.

It’s the same with backups. I can’t be trusted with my own data. I’d rather let someone else keep.

The only way to protect your information from being stolen is to not store it on somebody else's server. Every 'cloud' server is on compromise away from draining your bank account.

Your local machine or private server is far more likely to be compromised by malware, IoT bug, or the unpatched zero-day of the week than infrastructure run by a professional security team with 24x7 staffing and TEXA$ to lose if they screw up.

Do you pore through all the logs on your system every few minutes looking for anomalies? Do you inspect every line of code before it gets anywhere near production?

I just use KeePass, and Syncthing to automatically sync its encrypted password file (and other files I care about) to my android phone and all my windows computers. No cloud needed.

I second KeePass, but use a special dropbox account to sync. It does use a third party provider, but I hope my specific setup is uncommon/customized enough to defend against drag net attacks. The benefit is being able to access my passwords even after losing access to my current devices.

Is this actually so simple?

Not as simple as just using Dropbox, but it's probably simpler than you think. Was using LastPass and configuring Syncthing (on Windows) seemed daunting until someone here on HN mentioned SyncTrayzor. Syncthing runs as a Windows Service and you access it through a local webapp; SyncTrayzor wraps it into a much friendlier tray/desktop accessible app.


Not very. I use pass together with a self-hosted git repo.

Passwords are too important to evaluate a manager on convenience primarily. I think it is a little strange that banks do not work to get in this area. You trust your bank or else you would not keep your money there. I know too little about the main password manager companies to know if they are trustworthy.

I guess this is too small domain for banks but I think it would be interesting to see what happened if they moved into it.

Considering that my bank (Wells Fargo) has the crappiest password policy of any site I use, I wouldn't trust them to handle my passwords. Passwords will be accepted case-insensitive, so they're losing entropy and likely have the password stored plaintext somewhere.

That being said, I do have a safe deposit box with backups of important documents and a KeePass DB. The KeePass DB isn't synced as often as my local copies, but does get synced whenever I change passwords on any crucial site. I do have a copy on onedrive, but if I lose access to my password manager I won't be able to login to onedrive to access it. It's a little bit of work, but there are certain things that are definitely worth backing up in a secure location. Plus, there's a printed copy of my KeePass credentials and access information for relatives in case I'm gone.

I will never use any cloud based PM.

The biggest issue for me is transparency and complexity, most of them are just as "blackbox" as any other service.

I am using KeePassX with git + gpg on my own server for extra encryption and sync, this solution is simple and future-proof.

and I might switch to my own script in future, dir + txt + git + gpg should be enough.

Need a random password? cat /dev/urandom | base64 | cut 1-64

Grouping? Just different directories.

Please also remember, there is no cloud, just other people's computer.

I use https://app.keeweb.info/ but I host the data itself, it's actually just a static page until you connect it to your preferred data store. I like it because the page and data caches for use offline and it's multi-device. I just copy/paste the hard way to fill forms and even transcribe from my phone on devices I don't trust.

I don't trust them as much as an offline solution, and as enough solid offline solutions are available I avoid these cloud-based services.

Keepass does everything I need and supports all platforms I use. Sync isn't comparable but then again I don't register new accounts or change passwords every single day, so this is an area where sync features beyond what I get with syncthing are pretty irrelevant to me.

I have used 1password. I only moved to Bitwarden because I decided that if the PM was going to demand cloud backing I might as well pay cloud cost to an open-source entity. 1password is faster.

I used to use rsync (bittorrent-sync) to keep my own hosts up to date against each other. This was painful to manage so I accepted the bitwarden cloud model.

The risks are there, for sure. If you doubt the crypto behind your keystore, where it is should worry you little because how insecure it is should not be about where it is: its about how its shrouded, and how what is shrouded can be revealed.

My belief in the shroud protecting my secrets is my belief in their ability to code to the spec. it wasn't founded in my use of a private filestore to back the keystore, although I did, and I prefer private files, to private cloud files, to cloud files hosted by some intermediary, to public cloud.

Bitwarden is a private cloud file, hosted by some intermediary. The risk here is twofold: the intermediary is broken and its persisting filestore is readable, and bitwarden is broken and its interior private view becomes visible.

My best belief is that no part of my interactions depend on bitwarden knowing the interior state of my keys, they only handle shrouded data, and either I run apps which decode locally, or I run javascript which decodes locally, but I do not expect or believe any transit of the un-shrouded state of my data routinely has to flow through their hands. And the persistence of that belief is because they say the limits to how they can help recover my keystore, if I lose critical information. if they are truthful here, they cannot help me if I lose the escrow passphrase, because nothing they hold is the decrypt of my shroud. I have to give permission to de-shroud there side, the protecting key. its otherwise only used locally to me. (if somebody breaks the .js code, then the filestore being in the cloud is irrelevant)

1Password made the same kinds of commitment to me. As do LastPass and a number of other people. They all have to be comparable in this regard because its the fundamental business model.

At one stage, there was some leakage in the model for some keystores. The file names un-necessarily encoded revealing parts of the URLs they related to. I think thats changed now. It was scary. I had assumed everything was shrouded, it turned out for some period of time, only passwords and identity inside the URL had been fully protected. They changed that. I think it was 1password, it might have been lastpass. It wasn't bitwarden because I moved to them earlier this year and that was 2-3 years ago or more.

If I have misunderstood and sometimes my data is visible to them in clear, on their machines, I'd love to know.

1password can still be ran locally w/o use of cloud backing. That is the only way I have ever used it actually.

Not so comfortable. However, I trust the 1Password guys, I had some contact with the founders a couple of years ago, they even gifted me the iOS and Mac version, and found them competent and trustworthy.

The reason I went with the cloud sync is that I have to share secrets over multiple companies with all kinds of people and 1Password is simply the best compromise of convenience and security I found.

0. If the FBI/Mossad/etc. want my passwords, they can threaten to cut my toes off one by one and I'll just give them the passwords. So they're outside of my threat model.

1. All my important stuff has two-factor auth, so a malicious password manager company couldn't get in anyway.

2. If you're using one of the major vendors with a reputation and a paid service, that produces a fairly strong incentive for them to not be intentionally malicious - if they were caught distributing an update that made it possible for the companies to see your passwords, nobody would ever use them.

(All the major password managers do client-side encryption; they don't store plaintext passwords themselves. They do distribute the client that lets you decrypt passwords, but that's it.)

So that leaves accidental risk (bad crypto, hijacked update chain, client-side vulnerabilities). Out of the options, I'm comfortable with the track record of 1Password in particular.

I'm very interested in open-source options, but the major ones are all proprietary and the open-source ones are all volunteer-driven and I think the risk tradeoff is wrong. It's not a decision I feel 100% comfortable about but between the options of proprietary-but-professionally-maintained and open-source-but-hobbyist-maintained the former seems vaguely preferable for security-sensitive software, especially given that one of my requirements is I want to use a password manager extension.

Shameless plug, I have a personal digital security podcast and we took a look at various password managers and their security track records recently: https://looseleafsecurity.com/episodes/password-manager-secu...

Zero. Nada. Njet!

Passwords are those little peckers, that make everyday's life with a computer uncomfortable. So it would make a lot of sense to sync them between all the machines I use. But it's never going to happen, that I store my passwords on your computer!

You must rip them out of my dead, cold hands!

Locally, I use KeePass and KeePassX on Windows, Android and Linux and Keychain on macOS.

I've been using Lastpass for years now. It's good but not perfect. Occasionally I have to fiddle with it. There are a few web sites that Lastpass can't deal with. I opt for big passwords so I'm sure it's more secure than trying to use my memory and/or some ad hoc scheme.

I haven't done an organized comparison of password managers.

I don't.

I use KeePass, well now I guess it's KeePassXC, and I keep up with my onsite backups. There have been way, way more problems with 3rd party and cloud based services than I've had with my private system.

I've survived a couple of hardware failures, a few problems I created myself, and effortlessly migrated from Windows to MacOS to Linux in the meantime.

So, I am a student. Recently started using 1password. 2 years ago, I used Lastpass. It's UI sucked. Even for Logging in, the 2-3 clicks irritated me, since I was distrustful of extensions. After logging in, more irritation. Now, I don't know what changes they've done Then recently used Bitwarden(open-source) for a few months. It was nice, but wasn't enough for me, I have 3-digit # of accounts. I also wanted different vaults for different email IDs. Finally got 1password. And UI wise, 1password is just the best. Just lovely design. I use a combination of Google's Saved Logins, 1password.

Also, the 1password support guy was super super super nice to me. Well, the Bitwarden support guy/gal (i don't remember that one) was nice too.

Speaking of trust, I mean that's quite complicated, right? No matter what justification I give, there is some risk and a lot of technicalities which I am not aware of.

I don't use them because I couldn't trust them. I'm currently using KeePass synced with Dropbox. Works fine on Android, Mac and Windows. IPhone is a bit annoying, so I store some stuff in iCloud Keychain. I've tried pass and I want to try Bitwarden, but this setup works for me. KeePassXC even supports TOTP.

KeepassXC, synced with syncthing on my synology AND on gdrive. Android client and linux client. Databases for personal, personal extra secure, and work. My partner can get into personal, but not work or extra secure.

I have personally read through keepassxc source - haven't read the Android client. I have syncthing on my todo list.

I use KeePass stored in a cloud storage provider. As long as I control the encryption ke, it doesn't concern me too much if someone manage to grab the KDBX file, as I know the password is quite secure (over 32 characters, with symbols) and has never been used anywhere else.

Plenty comfortable with LastPass here.

I use LastPass. I think a case of “The best is the enemy of the good.” It's probably not perfectly secure but good enough and the time you might spend trying to do something better might be more productively spent on something else.

I'm using a self-hosted Nextcloud which stores my passwords. There are 'apps' for Firefox and Android. They're not perfect but work quite well for my use, I have both the benefit of cloud-based, centralised passwords and nobody-else-but-me can touch them.

As an idea, someone could implement a middle ground solution between `pass` (https://www.passwordstore.org) and a cloud solution.

Key design: encryption/decription happens locally, using standard open-source tools such as GnuPG. The cloud provider cannot _possibly_, ever know your actual contents - they only store them so you can't get locked out (which is a very real risk with `pass`; safeguarding our underlying private keys is currently completely left up to us).

Also some a conveniece layer could be offered on top of GnuPG; that should be open source, distributed as a non-binary and paid via honor system (also one can pay just for the mentioned hosting).

I'm not entirely comfortable with online password managers either.

For company use, I do use online password managers (1password), as they generally offer a good UX experience for less technical users, and there isn't strong rationale to believe companies focussed on password storage/transfer have bad practices in place. I also place some of my passwords in these password managers, generally passwords that don't do high amounts of damage if compromised.

Totally given the choice for a technical team, as many others have pointed to, I like pass or gopass as a team password mechanism, synchronizing passwords over git which is encrypted locally.

I'm pretty sure my reluctance or hesitation around cloud password managers stem from, it's hard to know who to trust. Companies pretty much universally have poor practices, missing controls, and will miss-represent or be susceptible to internal dogma about how good the tools and practices are. Allowing online sync of passwords increases the surface area, more things have to be perfect to prevent a compromise than non-online systems.

The really difficult part though, is it doesn't mean the cloud based manager is actually less secure than a more traditional app, a decent amount of the surface area of both applications intersect. Think of things like a compromise of the build server, unless you're running the app totally isolated from the internet, both online and offline apps can get compromised in the same way, and pick you're favourite offline app may have higher risk then pick your favourite cloud app based on internal controls that aren't talked about.

So with this in mind, for me it comes down to making a choice of trust on very imperfect information, only really with the public history of a vendor and how they present themselves externally. So given that imperfect information, I tend to place a higher weight on solutions with less surface area, there are less pieces for the vendor to get perfect to protect the system. And even with online password managers, I never install the browser autofill extensions, again to limit surface area.

That said, with password handling the choice of password manager and how it operates is also likely a smaller concern. As in most companies have bad password rotation practices when say an employee quits, or their laptop is compromised, etc. It would be cool to see a standard protocol for a password manager to be able to go in and rotate passwords automagically, and continue to see progress towards SSO and U2F/FIDO2 security keys universal adoption.

The only thing that (hopefully) is stored in the cloud with respect to password managers is the encrypted vault containing your passwords. Securing your vault with a strong master password in addition to a U2F like YubiKey seems to me a pretty safe way to store your important data.

Additionally, using an open-source password manager that you can audit alleviates any further paranoid concerns you may have. If you also worry about the cloud provider suffering a severe outage then you can always keep offline backups. Assuming that you have the expertise and time you can implement a solution yourself but it always depends on your threat model and your level of paranoia.

I won't trust any cloud-based password storage, especially not a proprietary one - even audits do not change my opinion about that - as the main attack vector isn't form the hacking side, but from 3 letter agencies and governments instead.

Plus it is a huge registry of metadata - any site that i store a password for gives them knowledge that i do use that site.

I tried few local solutions - sadly for my use case they both need to work in a shared way(some passwords are used by multiple colleagues at work for example, as they are company wide accounts for external sites that do not support individual accounts), and they do need to work on windows in a non cumbersome way.

Keepass for me, on Android I access via finger/thumb print scanner and on desktop I use Firefox with master password enabled. Database stored in Dropbox which is synced to work, home and phone.

Prior to doing this (requirement for my job) I didn't have any particular set up, so in comparison this feels really good.

Main grumble is I don't pay for Dropbox so have a device limit, so end up just downloading database onto extra devices which mostly works but sometimes requires redownloading to get latest and potentially uploading to Dropbox if I have created a new password. Maybe I will pay for Dropbox sometime (as let's face it, it is useful beyond this case).

I use 1pass like many here, but don't use the cloud service and am not happy doing so. My passwords are in a file which i share using a file share service, but i know it is all encrypted with my master password, which is my primary live off defense.

I would be interested in hearing how many passwords / accounts people have. I am well above 100, i think in the 200 range, so the idea that i could have different passwords, and remember them, is just silly. Password management has to happen, and the best way i can think is to store a majority in a very well encrypted file.

I do memorize a few key accounts.

I personally use KeePass and Dropbox.

I don't mean to hijack the thread, but allow me to ask what you guys use within you company, if anything. Do you use a cloud solution, something self-hosted, or nothing?

At my company, we use Azure Keyvault to hold certificates and other secrets used between applications. https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/key-vault/

I'm not a big fan of putting my password (encrypted or not) somewhere where I don't have control. Therefore, I am using Passbolt[0] at work, since that gets me a browser addon plus web ui, while it also allows me to host it myself, i.e. where I can physically check what ends up written where in the database. Passbolt is open-source, encryption and sharing is GnuPG-based, and they have paid plans available.

[0]: https://www.passbolt.com/

Too bad that Passbolt doesn't use native GnuPG for decryption. This is technically possible as evidenced by Mailvelope.

Passbolt team was actually part of the Mailvelope project that did this. Integration setup is not easy / very user friendly, that's why it's not the default on Mailvelope.

I store my passwords in an encrypted Numbers spreadsheet which I store in iCloud. Thus you need iCloud access and the spreadsheet password to access.

I have considered encrypted notes for low security passwords, but find the sort and too easily editing function of notes not great for copying and pasting.

I want to use iCloud KeyChain, but I like having a desktop client to manage passwords — but I found it I created a password set on macOS it wouldn’t appear in iOS keychain — anyone know why?

I use pass and use a free Google instance to run git to which it's synced. I sync using git to all devices. The git database is also synced to Amazon drive periodically.

So the passwords in pass itself are protected by gpg. The Google instance is protected using ssh. Amazon drive is protected using 2-factor auth.

No single cloud provider can get at the passwords, but the password database is backed up at multiple locations.

Online is better than not having a backup, so for your hypothetical mom it is probably a good idea (unless you manage their backups).

I would generally trust them to want to do the right thing, but software vulnerabilities or crypto bugs (weak IV initialization or so) are reasons to not do this. Unlikely, but the impact is large. But the chance (and impact) of losing all your passwords is even larger.

You mean like LastPass? I don't use it, but it seems pretty secure to me. The passwords are encrypted with a password that only you the user know. So if their servers are compromised, your passwords are not. Sure they can push out a malicious update that steals your passwords, but so can any program you have installed on your computer, it's just a bit harder.

I don’t use a password manager myself… However, of all the ones I’ve looked at, Valt (Valt.io) seems the most interesting/unique...

I'm using EnPass https://www.enpass.io/ They claim to use "open source and peer reviewed cryptography libraries"and that "all your data is with you only and nothing is stored on our servers". They sync data among devices using Dropbox or iCloud.

I trust them.

Nope, but the office uses them, so... whatever. I keep my own passwords in a tool that can sync directly between my own devices.

Do you consider iCloud Keychain to be one?

I think the important is for the client-side process to be fully trusted. If only encrypted data is going to a remote location and there isn't a risk of the process being hijacked on the client side you should be good to go.

That said, I use my own remote storage (not cloud) with keepass's sftp plugin.

Not at all. First of all, it's unnecessary, but the idea itself is not very sound in the first place.

I am not comfortable at all using a cloud-based password manager. That said, one of the best options (1Password) does not force you to use their cloud -- they do seem to go out of their way to make this a less than obvious option though, which is disappointing.

I gave up on cloud-based password managers.

My current setup:

On non-critical services(social media etc.) or websites with U2F, I reuse passwords.

For everything else, I use Purse[0] with Yubikey.

[0] https://github.com/drduh/Purse

but in case you have 3 computers, how to sync passwords?

save the file created by Purse on public cloud.

Not comfortable at all. I use KeePassXC on my GNU/Linux machine and my mobile device doesn't have any of my passphrases because:

1. I don't trust my mobile device

2. I don't like the odds of it being stolen or lost

3. I don't need the constant distractions anyway

Keeweb has been my favourite so far. I have the client installed everywhere and in worst case I can fallback to google drive and the keeweb website. The compatibility with keepass is a plus for my corporate environment.

I don't trust clouds either. Using offline desktop software, making backups on HDDs and once in a few months on DVD-R. For data I don't care too much, like game accounts, saving passwords in browser.

I'm not comfortable with them at all, so I don't use them.

I have had good success with LastPass keeping it updated and using the binaries on my devices. I don't fully trust anything but also using Authy 2FA on whatever I can as well.

I remember maybe 15 years ago a service for storing your passwords online. They claimed they where unhackable and became very popular. Then they got hacked and all passwords dumped.

Will never use a cloud password store.

I use Codebook which provides phone and desktop apps, and allows database syncing over LAN. It’s the best solution that gives you both ease of use and syncing.

I wish I could entrust an entity with my passwords but I'm too paranoid. Now I have several variations of a single password for general usage :/

I'm more comfortable to store encrypted passwords at the cloud using a service, whose core business is to make it secure than any homegrown solution.

Basically it's one step up from using the same password every where. You still have one point of failure but you assume descent security.

The cloud is not the automatic solution to the problem of passwords- chiefly that third parties cannot be trusted to keep them secure.

update. LastPass leaks credentials from previous site: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20983344

I have a self hosted bitwarden instance. I feel very comfortable using it and encourage my friends and family to use it as well.

Fine with Lastpass. It's not like I've got nuclear launch codes in there anyway & the stuff that matters has 2FA.

I don't. That's why I use unix pass.

Not at all. First of all, it's unnecessary, but the idea itself is not very sound in the first place.

Answer: Its okay to store the encrypted passwords there. Since they are encrypted.

But does the server have the ability to decrypt?

No, for all the major / well-respected password managers (and probably for all the minor ones too), all the crypto is done client-side.

1Password, for instance, has a pretty good security doc about it: https://1password.com/files/1Password%20for%20Teams%20White%...

It is unclear if LastPass is well-respected, and if I recall correctly, at least at one point, the master key was accessible by the server.

No one uses Firefox Lockbox?

My password manager is the "Forgot your password?" link.

Thanks for the great responses!

Opinion on Lockwise?

The reality is, if a cloud based password manager doesn't fit your threat model, you probably need to adjust your threat model.

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