Password managers for business, also referred to as business password managers, or enterprise password management solutions, enable employees to manage their work-related passwords securely and simply. Password managers store all passwords for all accounts in a secure, encrypted vault, which can only be accessed by an authenticated user. Many password managers offer browser plugins, so as users access the web, passwords can be auto filled to improve the login experience.
The best passwords managers offer several key features to help reduce friction when managing multiple passwords. The user interface should be modern and user friendly, allowing users to easily add, edit, and access account passwords. When users register a new account, the new password should be automatically imported into the service. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) should be available to protect access to the secure password vault; many solutions are also moving to support passwordless access with FIDO Passkey support. Admins should be able to configure password sharing and group policies – and many solutions also offer password health advice, including warnings on weak and reused passwords.
Expert Insights has tested and assessed multiple leading business password managers to help teams find the right solution for their business. This list covers our top choices for the best password management solutions, outlining key features, use cases, pricing, and benefits.
November 2023 Update: This list has been adjusted updated to reflect new features, product acquisitions and platform updates. This list of the best enterprise password managers is regularly re-evaluated as support for new features such as Fido Passkeys continue to roll out.
Business Password Managers: Everything You Need To Know
What Is A Business Password Manager?
A business password management solution is a security tool that helps end users to store their business credentials more securely. The core feature of these solutions is a secure, encrypted password vault, in which users can store account credentials, including usernames, passwords, one-time-security codes related to accounts, credit card information, and notes . These solutions are commonly cloud-based, SaaS subscription services, paid monthly or annually. They are delivered as web applications, or desktop/mobile apps.
Users access the secure vault using a master password, which (according to admin policies) may need to be a certain length and complexity to improve security. Some password managers have also announced support for FIDO Passkeys, enabling passwordless access to the vault. Within the password vault, admins can log all of their workforce passwords, which can be sorted into folders and groups, and any passwords that have been shared with them. This should be reinforced with multi-factor authentication.
Using a browser plugin, desktop or mobile application, passwords will be automatically entered into web-forms when a user needs to log into an account. When a user creates a new account, the service will automatically generate a secure password and store this in the password vault. This means the user experience is simple and straightforward. Within the vaults, users should be able to easily add, edit, remove, and share passwords securely with their team, and view if passwords have been re-used or needs to be updated.
For admins, password managers enable password policy enforcement, management of secure passwords and teams, reporting into password health, and access controls, with the ability to share and revoke account access.
Why Do You Need A Business Password Manager?
81% of data breaches involve a stolen password or credential. Passwords are notoriously insecure – they can be phished, guessed, exposed by data breaches, and compromised by different forms of malware. Some of problems are inherent to the use of passwords, but some are caused by poor user practices, such as reusing the same passwords across accounts.
Password managers allow businesses to reduce password risks, by assisting users in storing passwords securely, enforcing password policies, such as requiring passwords to be a certain length and complexity. They will highlight when passwords have been compromised in data-breaches or appeared on the dark web.
As well as these security benefits, password managers can also be help organizations adhere to compliance frameworks and qualifying for cyber-insurance policies. Proper password security is an important component of a well-rounded strategy for improving overall cyber-resilience.
Password managers also help from a business productivity standpoint. They reduce the number of password reset requests and help users to easily and securely share passwords across teams and allow users log-in to services quickly and seamlessly.
Features To Look For In A Password Manager For Business?
Business password managers are designed to make it as easy as possible for employees to securely store, retrieve, manage, and secure business passwords, as well as enabling admins to enforce secure password policies and manage password sharing. To that end, there are a number of important features to consider when selecting a password manager tool for business, including:
- A user-friendly password vault
- Secure password sharing functionality, with shared passwords hidden
- Browser plug-in for automatic password collection and password auto-fill
- Password importing ability
- Reporting of weak and re-used passwords
- Notification when passwords have appeared in a data-breach
- Secure password generator when creating new accounts
- Password groups and folders
- Admin policies and reporting
- MFA & SSO for account access
Ultimately, the choice of which password manager to choose will be down to your individual business requirements and use cases, but market leading solutions will include the above key features.
What Is The Best On-Premises Password Manager?
Password managers can be deployed in two ways: as a cloud-based SaaS solution which users access via web applications or via a web browser; or as an application installed on end user devices. Typically, features are very similar between the two. Both offer a secure password vault for end users to access passwords. The main difference is simply in how they are deployed and managed. On-prem password managers need to be installed on each device, while cloud-based services can be accessed by any device that can log into the online password management service.
Benefits of on-prem password management include the fact that all passwords will be held on the local device, giving businesses more control over their data. Despite many top password managers having an extremely tight security policies, there have been instances of password management providers being affected by data breaches.
An on-prem solution reduces the likelihood that your passwords will be affected if the password management company itself suffered a data breach. However, the flip side of this is that the on-prem password manager is only as strong as your internal security policies – if you suffer a breach, the locally stored passwords could be affected.
When choosing the right on-premises password manager, be sure to consider ease of onboarding, how easy the service is to use, and the level of ongoing support available.
How Does Deployment Work For Password Managers?
Password managers are typically sold under a SaaS-subscription model, billed monthly or annually per user. User accounts can be quickly provisioned leveraging your existing user directory system (e.g., Microsoft Azure AD). Admins will be able to manage user identities, configure policies, and view reports within a cloud-based admin portal.
Many leading password managers support all devices and operating systems. Typically, the user will receive an email alerting them that they have been added to a password management service and an explanation of how to set up their account. This may involve installing a desktop app or mobile application. Password managers tend to offer a browser plug-in; this enables passwords to be auto filled as users browse the web.
Users can import their passwords organically, using this plug-in, or can bulk import passwords from an existing service using a CSV. Many password managers offer a personal plan for users alongside workforce capabilities. This means that users can add their personal accounts and passwords to the service. Admins are not able to access these passwords within the password vault.
Typically, when a user leaves the organization, they will be automatically removed from the workforce password management service and access to any shared passwords will be revoked – however this should be checked with any specific password management provider that you consider.
Can The Secure Password Vault Be Breached?
Unfortunately, no security tool is 100% secure. Password managers keep all of your passwords in one place, and if you don’t have robust multi-factor authentication place for your password manager, it’s possibly the secure password vault could be compromised.
With that said, password managers are highly recommended by security experts. All of the password managers on this list offer secure password vaults, and with MFA switched on, it is very difficult to compromise passwords stored in a password manager. Many services store passwords locally (with backups available) so that there is no way for an attacker to compromise passwords without gaining access to your device.
However, it is important to consider each password manager’s security policies. There have been instances in which password manager providers themselves have been affected by data breach. Fortunately when vault data is encrypted, the information is unreadable. Even if attackers are able to compromise the vault itself, the odds on them being able to successfully decrypt the data is slim.
Can You Securely Share Passwords Using A Password Manager?
Secure password sharing is one of the best benefits of implementing a password manager. There are several ways that password managers approach this feature and admin policies can affect this too. Generally, users will be able to share select account usernames and passwords with other colleagues, or within groups and folders shared with multiple team members.
The benefit of sharing a password in a password manager is that the password itself can be hidden. When users with access to the shared password need to log into the account, the password can be automatically filled to authenticate access, without them needing to know the password at all.
When a team member leaves, access to the password can then be automatically revoked. This means you can be confident only authorized users can access shared resources, thereby reducing the risk of data loss or breach caused by poor password sharing policies.
What Happens If A User Forgets Their Master Password?
The master password is needed for each users to log into their password vault. Many organizations will mandate this to be a certain level of length or complexity – this can mean users will sometimes forget or misplace their master password. In this instance, remediation usually depends on company policies or the password management platform’s policies. Access can normally be reset by the user themselves using a secondary form of authentication, or by account admins.
Many password managers are moving to support FIDO Passkeys, which replaces the use of the master password with passwordless authentication. Using Passkeys, authentication is completed with a private key held on the local device, then matched with a public key registered the password manager. There is no need for the local end user to ever have an account password. Combined with an extra verification step leveraging biometric controls, or a physical hardware token, this offers powerful security benefits and means the password cannot be forgotten or phished.