Bitwarden, the best free password manager available right now in our opinion, has announced the long-awaited addition of passkey support.
The announcement follows the company’s recent announcement of a toolkit to allow developers to create passkeys for their services. What was missing, however, was the ability for users to use and store passkeys within the manager.
Passkeys can now be used in place of the master password used to secure your vault, allowing you to log in to the open-source manager without a password. You can also save passkeys for other services, allowing for instant login without the need for a password – all you need to authenticate your identity is your smart device’s PIN or stored biometrics such as your fingerprint scan or facial features.
The FIDO alliance
Passkeys are cryptographic keys stored on your mobile device. This private key works in conjunction with the public key of the service in question to grant you access to your account with that service. As a result, they are considered phishing resistant because no one knows the contents of these private keys, not even the user.
The FIDO alliance, an open industry alliance with board members from Apple, Amazon, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, sets the standards for passkey development and usage (Bitwarden is itself a sponsor-level member). Apple was the first to bring the passwordless solution to a wider audience, with others following in its footsteps.
Other popular password managers, such as 1Password and NordPass, have also announced their support, ensuring that big tech does not monopolize the technology. Bitwarden has now joined its ranks, and it is believed to be the first free password manager to support passkeys.
“The transition from passwords to passwordless forms of authentication such as passkeys will be one of the most significant technological changes of this decade,” said Michael Crandell, CEO of Bitwarden. “It’s also an important part of our mission to assist users in making the transition.” Bitwarden envisions a world in which no one is hacked. Passkeys will be critical in allowing us to get there.”
Users will be able to generate, save, and use passkeys from Bitwarden beginning in the summer of 2023. They will also be able to use them to log in and unlock access to their vaults in place of a master password.
Bitwarden will also adopt a new passkey standard, the WebAuthn PRF extension, which the company claims “enables workflows that generate secret keys used for encrypting user vault data.”