Best Linux Password Management Solutions
In the past, the demand for Linux password management solutions has been limited. Indirectly, the lack of demand was mostly due to the difficulty installing and troubleshooting proprietary software on Linux distributions (i.e., Oracle, Microsoft 365, etc.). Because of these issues, businesses were reluctant to use Linux distributions, developers stopped building Linux support into their apps, and businesses had no need to adopt Linux password management solutions.
More recently, the increased use of cloud computing and remote working has seen more businesses keen to use Linux distributions. Linux is considered more secure and more stable than Windows and Mac operating systems and it is free to use. Furthermore, because Linux is open-source, it is possible to install other free, privacy-friendly, open-source apps that can compete in functionality with premium Windows and Mac apps (i.e., LibreOffice vs Microsoft 365).
As the demand for Linux-based and Linux-compatible apps has grown, so has the demand for Linux password management solutions in order to secure login credentials, user profiles, and credit card details. However, while the “built-in” Seahorse password manager for GNOME environments is an excellent solution and has SSH and PGP key generation capabilities, it doesn´t work on other operating systems nor mobile devices – so is impractical for business uses.
Linux Password Management Solutions for Business
Seahorse isn´t the only password manager that lacks cross-platform functionality. Browser-based password managers such as Chrome and OS-based password managers such as iCloud Keychain are good at what they do; but, when employees use a mixture of devices and operating systems, the best Linux password management solutions for business are web-based solutions that provide access to a secure vault via web browsers, browser extensions, mobile apps, and desktop apps.
The universal accessibility of password vaults not only makes them more convenient for employees to use, but also facilitates the application of business-wide password policies to encourage the use of strong passwords and prevent the re-use of existing passwords across multiple accounts – helping make the business more resilient against password-related cyberattacks. Businesses can also share passwords securely via user vaults and enforce vault timeouts for additional security.
From the perspective of system administration, many commercial Linux password management solutions for business integrate with existing directory services for ease of deployment. System admins can run business-wide reports to check for weak, re-used, and compromised passwords, enforce two-factor authentication on sensitive accounts, or require users to login to their password vaults using the business´s Single Sign-On authentication method.
Comparison of Commercial Linux Password Managers
Although many commercial password managers support Linux distributions, this does not mean they have the same capabilities. Most support universal accessibility, password policies, secure sharing, and integration with directory services, but subtle differences can impact usability, administration, and security. For example, some password managers are capable of synchronizing with on-premises directory services (i.e., Microsoft AD) as well as cloud directory services.
For the purposes of this comparison of commercial Linux password managers, we looked at a selection of ten top password managers, eliminated those that do not offer native Linux support (Dashlane and Password Boss) and those that do not support remote emergency access to employee vaults in the event of employee non-availability (1PassWord and NordPass). This left us with the following selection of commercial Linux password managers to compare:
Psono is an open-source password manager that offers businesses the option to self-host the service or use the Psono SaaS service. In addition to the “normal” list of capabilities, this Linux password management solution uses multilayer transport encryption, password capture (to add existing non-imported passwords as you encounter them) and PGP encryption for encrypted emails.
Bitwarden is similar to Psono inasmuch as it is an open-source Linux password management solution offering a self-host option. The advantage Bitwarden has over Psono is that it is a more mature solution that has had its wrinkles ironed out. Bitwarden also supports Microsoft AD integration, has more authenticator integrations than Psono, and you can unlock vaults using biometrics.
Keeper runs on proprietary software with no self-host option, but it has several features that may be of interest to a business looking for Linux password management solutions – notably automated alerts when login credentials are compromised, private encrypted person-to-person messaging, and 24/7 support, which includes live telephone support when you subscribe to a Platinum support plan.
Other Linux password management solutions we looked at included:
Enpass – good for individuals and premium service is inexpensive. However, not suitable for businesses due to a lack of password sharing and user management capabilities. Plus, passwords have to manually synchronized between devices.
LastPass – easy-to-navigate user interface, but that´s about where the positives finish. Fewer capabilities than Psono, Bitwarden, and Keeper – at a higher price – and doesn´t offer provide separate vaults for employees to isolate personal credentials from corporate credentials.
LogMeOnce – packed with enterprise features including facial recognition login. However, navigating all the features is complicated for the average user and the features (and support, and storage, and 2FA SMSs) come at a price. You can secure account credentials equally well for far less.
Our comparison demonstrates the problems businesses can encounter determining the best Linux password management solutions for their needs. In addition, there is very limited transparency when it comes to pricing – Bitwarden being the only Linux password manager that was clearly priced. However, all the above vendors offer free trials of their products, so if you are not yet sure which may the best Linux password management solution for your business, you have the opportunity to try before you buy.