Compare Passbolt to KeePass
See for yourself how KeePass stacks up against passbolt's collaborative password manager.
Introducing the Competitors
Passbolt is an open source collaborative password manager that centralizes the secure storage, sharing, and management of digital credentials within dynamic teams. It operates as a server with browser, desktop and mobile clients and can be deployed on premise or used in the cloud.
KeePass is an open source password management solution that provides individuals the tools they need to manage their digital credentials. It operates as a standalone desktop app that can be installed on a local machine.
Passbolt vs KeePass: The Overview
Passbolt: Suitable for Teams and Businesses
Passbolt is designed with teams in mind, offering granular and real-time sharing of passwords, traceability, role-based access controls, and nested permissions for shared passwords.
Advanced User Management
From adding or removing seats to enforcing security policies for all users, passbolt provides comprehensive user management capabilities.
With features like Single Sign-On (SSO) integration, event logs, and account recovery options, passbolt is tailored for business environments.
Broad Client Spectrum
Passbolt equips users with browser extensions, mobile apps, a Command Line Interface (CLI), and a forthcoming desktop app, catering to diverse access preferences.
KeePass: Geared Towards Individuals
With its primary focus as a desktop application, KeePass offers a familiar and straightforward experience for individual users.
Being a local application, KeePass ensures that users can access their passwords without needing an internet connection, enhancing privacy and reliability.
Easy Installation and Maintenance
As a standalone desktop app, KeePass can be swiftly installed on any machine and requires minimal maintenance.
Passbolt vs KeePass: The Details
Why does it matter?
Does not offer
Real-Time Sharing of Passwords
Instant Sharing: Users can share passwords with individuals or teams in real-time without delays.
Dynamic Updates: Changes made to a shared password are instantly reflected for all users with access.
Notifications: Users receive notifications when a password is shared with them or when there are updates to a shared password.
Collaborative Environment: Designed with teams in mind, passbolt facilitates seamless collaboration, allowing multiple users to work on shared passwords simultaneously.
KeePass does not include an in-built sharing feature. Only the entire keePass database can be shared through separate channels.
Static Sharing: Unlike real-time sharing, changes made to passwords after sharing require the database to be re-shared for updates to be visible to recipients.
Sync Tools: While not inherently real-time, users often employ third-party synchronization tools to keep shared KeePass databases updated across devices.
Real-time sharing of passwords ensures that team members, collaborators, or stakeholders have immediate access to the latest and most accurate data, eliminating the risks associated with outdated or incorrect information. This feature is especially vital for businesses and teams where timely decision-making can impact operations, security, and overall efficiency.
Granular Password Sharing
Individual items sharing: With a single click, users can share a password with an individual, multiple passwords with several users, or an entire folder and subfolder with a group of users.
Role-Based Permissions: During sharing, users can designate specific roles to recipients, determining what they can do with the shared password.
Database Sharing: Users can share the complete KeePass database, encompassing all the passwords. Essentially, KeePass databases are files.
Granular sharing ensures precise control over password access, tailoring distribution based on trust and necessity. This balances security with efficient collaboration.
Password Organization with Folders
Offers both personal and shared folders for structured password organization.
Provides folders for categorizing passwords.
Organized password storage in folders enhances retrieval efficiency and streamlines team collaboration, ensuring quick access without compromising security.
Nested Permissions for Shared Passwords
Hierarchical Structure: Supports a hierarchical structure for passwords, allowing for nested permissions within groups or collections.
Dynamic Permission Updates: Permissions can be adjusted in real-time, ensuring that changes to access rights are immediately reflected.
Flexible Structure: Users have the autonomy to organize both collaboratively and individually, catering to organizational needs.
Grouping of Entries: While KeePass supports grouping of entries, it doesn't offer nested permissions for sharing these groups.
By allowing administrators to set permissions at different levels or hierarchies, it ensures that users only access the data they are authorized to see. This granularity is especially crucial for organizations where different teams or departments handle varying levels of sensitive data.
Inherit Permissions from Direct Folder Parent
Supports hierarchical organization of passwords, where child folders or passwords can inherit permissions from their parent folder.
Offers a grouping system for entries, but permissions aren't inherited in a shared context.
This ensures a hierarchical and organized permission structure, making management easier and more intuitive.
Users can comment on passwords, facilitating team interactions and discussions.
KeePass lacks a feature for users to comment on passwords.
User comments foster collaboration, allowing team members to discuss, clarify, or provide context about specific passwords, enhancing understanding and reducing potential errors.
Users & Access Management
Add and Remove Users
Offers dynamic user management, allowing administrators to easily add or remove user seats based on team needs.
Being primarily an individual-centric tool, KeePass doesn't have a built-in feature for adding or removing seats in a collaborative context.
The ability to easily add or remove seats allows for scalability and flexibility as teams grow or change.
Single Sign-On (SSO)
Passbolt Pro users can benefit from SSO capabilities, streamlining the login process and integrating with enterprise authentication systems.
KeePass doesn't natively support SSO, but third-party plugins can provide this functionality for users who need it.
SSO enhances user convenience by allowing access to multiple services with a single authentication process, streamlining workflows.
User directories and provisioning
Passbolt supports integration with directories like Active Directory and OpenLDAP, facilitating user management for enterprises.
KeePass doesn't natively support directory integrations, but plugins can potentially add this capability.
Integration with directories like AD or LDAP ensures that user management and authentication can be centralized and streamlined.
Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
Provides robust Role-Based Access Control, enabling organizations to assign specific roles and permissions to users based on their responsibilities.
While KeePass allows for grouping and categorizing entries, it doesn't offer a traditional RBAC system for collaborative use.
RBAC allows organizations to assign specific permissions based on roles, ensuring that users only have access to the information they need.
Revoke Password Access Individually
Administrators can swiftly revoke access to specific passwords for individual users, enhancing security control.
Users can manually remove shared databases, but there's no centralized way to revoke individual password access in a shared environment.
The ability to revoke access ensures that when a user's status changes (e.g., leaving a project or the company), their access to sensitive information is immediately terminated.
Enforce Minimum Privileges When Sharing
Ensures that users are granted only the necessary permissions, adhering to the principle of least privilege.
Sharing is done at the database level, so enforcing minimum privileges requires careful database segmentation.
Enforcing the principle of least privilege (PoLP) ensures that users only get access to what they absolutely need, reducing potential security risks. Furthermore, PoLP is a product feature that aids organizations in achieving and maintaining compliance with security-related certifications such as ISO 27001, SOC2, PCI DSS, NIST, and OWASP.
Enforce Security Rules for All Users
Allows for the setting of organization-wide security policies, ensuring all users adhere to set standards.
Users can set security configurations for their databases, but there's no centralized enforcement for all users.
Centralized security rules ensure that all users adhere to the organization's security standards, reducing vulnerabilities.
Account Recovery (Escrow)
Provides a paid feature for account recovery, ensuring users can regain access in case of lost credentials.
Being a local application, KeePass relies on users to manage and backup their databases, without a built-in escrow service.
Provides a safety net in case users forget their credentials, ensuring that they can regain access without compromising security.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Default MFA: Passbolt provides MFA authentication by default. To authenticate in passbolt, a user requires something they own (the secret key) and something they know (the master password).
Additional MFA: Passbolt offers additional MFA layers beyond the default authentication, adding an extra layer of security by requiring two or more verification methods. Various MFA providers are supported, including TOTP and Duo.
While KeePass itself doesn't natively support MFA, plugins and integrations are available to add this capability.
MFA provides an added layer of security, requiring multiple methods of verification before granting access.
Mandatory Random Secret Key
Passbolt mandates the use of a secret key, either randomly generated or imported, which is protected by a passphrase for enhanced security, ensuring only the user can access and decrypt their data.
Secrets are signed using the user secret key, ensuring a cryptographically-backed audit trail.
KeePass users have the option to use a "key file" as an additional security measure or as an alternative to a master password.
Secret keys offer an additional layer of security, ensuring that in addition to the master password only those with the key can access the data. The use of a secret key is particularly effective for protection against phishing campaigns, as well as brute force and password spraying attacks.
Secret-Level Encryption: Each password stored in passbolt is encrypted individually, ensuring that even if one is compromised, others remain secure.
User-Specific Encryption: Passwords are encrypted uniquely for each user with their secret key, rather than with a shared key, ensuring personalized security.
Database-Level Encryption: KeePass encrypts the entire database, including both passwords and metadata. This means that all the data within the database is secured as a single unit.
Granular encryption ensures each single password and secret is encrypted uniquely, enhancing data security. In contrast, encrypting an entire vault means all data within the vault is encrypted as a single unit. Both methods safeguard secrets from unauthorized access, but granular encryption further reduces risks by applying the minimum privilege principle at the cryptographic level.
Features a 3-letter token and color combination, providing users with a unique identifier to verify passbolt’s authenticity during login or while performing sensitive operations.
Authentication combines an individual secret key and a passphrase, ensuring that merely obtaining a user’s username and password is insufficient for gaining access to their account.
Ensure that the URL of suggested passwords matches the URL of the visited website, providing protection against URL phishing attacks.
Being non-web-based, KeePass inherently offers protection against phishing. While it uses a master password with optional key file, its security is further enhanced by the need for attackers to access the KeePass file directly.
While KeePass primarily functions as a desktop application, third-party browser extensions assist identifying phishing URL attacks and prevent users using credentials on them.
Protects users across applications from deceptive attempts to steal sensitive information, ensuring data confidentiality and trust.
Nominative Audit Logs
Event Logs: All user actions are logged, allowing administrators to review or integrate these logs with their SIEM.
Secret Access Logs: Secrets remain securely on the server, accessed only when needed by a user.
KeePass provides database operations logging, but it is not nominative. The changes are logged, but it is not possible to know who did it.
Audit logs ensure traceability of actions, enhancing accountability and aiding in security incident investigations. Additionally, maintaining such logs is often a compliance requirement in various industries.
Time-based Expiry (Coming Soon): Allows setting a specific duration after which passwords automatically expire.
Access Revocation (Coming Soon): Consumed passwords are marked as expired when users lose access or leave the organization.
Time-based Expiry: In KeePass, users can set an expiration date for their passwords, after which the password is considered expired and needs to be changed.
Access Control: KeePass does not automatically mark passwords as expired based on user access changes or departures. Manual intervention is required.
Expiry controls ensure passwords are rotated regularly or automatically revoked, reducing the risk of breaches from stale credentials.
Does not support offline mode to prioritize security. Avoids potential risks associated with saving all user passwords on a local machine.
Offers offline mode, allowing users to access their passwords without an internet connection by saving them locally.
Offline mode can be convenient for users who need access to their passwords without an internet connection. However, storing all passwords on a local machine can introduce potential security vulnerabilities. Organizations must weigh the convenience against the potential security risks.
Currently allows searches in unencrypted metadata using name and URL for ease of use. Upcoming updates will provide admins more control over encrypted data details.
Encrypts metadata associated with passwords, enhancing security and privacy.
Encrypting metadata, such as content type, name, username and URLs , ensures that not just the password, but also the associated details and context, are kept confidential and secure.
Regular Third-party Audits
Source code audited multiple times annually by third parties (e.g. Cure53, SOC 2). ➔ Read the publicly available audit reports.
KeePass was last audited in the EU-FOSSA project in 2020. Although this is relatively recent, the dynamic nature of cybersecurity means that vulnerabilities can emerge over time, underscoring the importance of more frequent evaluations.
Regular third-party audits ensure that the software's security measures are up-to-date and effective against potential threats, providing users with added confidence in the product's safety.
Designed at its core for air-gapped environments, passbolt’s API & clients can be deployed without any external service dependencies or home calls.
As a local application, KeePass inherently operates in an air-gapped environment.
Operating in an air-gapped environment ensures that sensitive data remains isolated from unsecured networks, significantly reducing the risk of external breaches.
No trackers are embedded within the source code, ensuring privacy on both server and client sides.
Being a client-side only application, KeePass operates without including any trackers.
Operating without trackers ensures user data privacy. Trackers can potentially monitor user behavior, access patterns, usage frequency, and other data interactions, which could be exploited for malicious purposes or unwanted marketing.
Privacy Law Jurisdiction
Passbolt SA, the company behind passbolt, is incorporated in the EU, renowned for its stringent privacy laws.
KeePass is an open-source project without a specific corporate entity, but its origin is in Germany, an EU country with strong privacy regulations.
Being under a jurisdiction known for strict data protection regulations, like the EU, ensures that user data is treated with utmost importance and adheres to high standards of privacy and security.
Integration & Interoperability
Passbolt provides a RESTful API, enabling developers to integrate with the platform using standard HTTP methods and engage programmatically.
KeePass offers a developer API through its plugins architecture for browser integration.
Browser integration enables developers to build custom browser extensions that streamlines the user experience.
Passbolt offers a public API, allowing developers to integrate and interact with the platform programmatically.
As a local application, KeePass doesn't have a native public API, but its open-source nature allows for custom integrations by the community.
A public API allows for custom integrations and extensions, ensuring the tool can adapt to unique organizational needs.
Passbolt cryptography utilizes PGP, a renowned standard backed by a vast tooling ecosystem. PGP is readily accessible as a client on most Linux servers as well as email clients.
Users can optionally configure passbolt to receive encrypted secrets within email notifications, enabling decryption directly in the mailbox without requiring access to passbolt.
KeePass defaults to AES encryption, a recognized standard. However, unlike PGP, AES doesn’t provide a comprehensive tooling ecosystem to be used out of the box in external applications.
Adopting interoperable and standardized cryptography facilitates easier integration and portability with external systems.
Passbolt provides the capability to import data from various other password managers such as KeePass, easing the transition for new users.
KeePass boasts a versatile import function, supporting data transition from over 50 different password managers.
The ability to import data from competitors ensures flexibility and reduces the barriers to switching tools.
Users can export their data from passbolt in formats like CSV and kdbx, ensuring data portability.
KeePass allows users to export their data in various formats, including CSV and HTML, ensuring they always have access to their information.
Exporting data ensures that users can create backups or migrate to another tool if needed.
Command Line Interface (CLI)
Provides a robust CLI that facilitates automation, integration with other systems, data migration, custom notifications, enhanced security operations, and batch processing.
Offers a basic CLI for database manipulation, but with limited functionalities compared to its GUI.
A CLI allows for more flexible and advanced operations, enabling automation and seamless integration with other systems. It's especially valuable for IT professionals and businesses looking for efficient ways to manage and integrate their password management solutions.
Indeed, passbolt is an open-source tool, backed by a vibrant community. ➔ Visit repos on GitHub
KeePass is an open-source solution, supported by a robust community.
Leveraging open source security tools is often regarded as a gold standard. Such codebases undergo scrutiny by countless security experts, hunting for potential vulnerabilities – a level of transparency unattainable with closed-source products. Furthermore, it offers you a clear insight into and influence over the product's developmental trajectory.
Self-hosted: Allows organizations to deploy on their own infrastructure. ➔ Installation guide
Public Cloud: Hosted on a cloud platform, ensuring scalability and flexibility. ➔ Sign up now
Desktop Application: Primarily a local application, not designed for server deployment.
Deployment options determine how flexible and scalable the solution is for different organizational needs. Public cloud offerings provide scalability and ease of deployment without the need for in-house infrastructure. Self-hosting offers control over data, customization, and can address specific compliance requirements.
Desktop App is in development with a version for Windows coming soon.
Mobile Apps for both Android and iOS platforms.
Browser Extensions available for Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and other Chromium browsers.
Command line interface for power users.
Primarily a desktop application, available for Windows.
While there isn't an official KeePass mobile app, there are unofficial ports and derivatives available for mobile platforms.
Browser integrations can be achieved using third-party plugins/extensions.
The availability of clients across platforms determines accessibility and user experience. Native clients often offer better control over security and tighter integration with the underlying operating system. Mobile apps provide on-the-go access, crucial for modern work environments.
Passbolt is compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ensuring user data is handled with utmost care and privacy standards.
Being an offline, open-source application, KeePass inherently supports GDPR compliance as user data is stored locally and not shared with any third parties.
GDPR compliance ensures that user data is handled in accordance with European Union privacy regulations.
SOC2 Type II
Passbolt publish annually SOC2 Type II and SOC3 audited reports, indicating a high level of trust and security in its service operations.
KeePass has not been SOC audited, primarily because it's a desktop application and doesn't operate as a cloud service.
Service Organization Control (SOC) compliance indicates that the tool meets high standards for security, availability, and confidentiality.
Community support available on the passbolt community forum.
Active community forums and user groups for troubleshooting and best practices.
Community support provides users with a platform to share experiences, ask questions, and get insights from peers. It fosters collaboration and can often lead to quicker solutions than formal support channels.
Passbolt Pro offers commercial premium support with SLA.
No commercial premium support provided.
Commercial premium support ensures timely and prioritized assistance for critical issues, enhancing reliability and trust in the product. An SLA (Service Level Agreement) guarantees specific response times, ensuring businesses can operate with minimal disruptions.
Further Reading and Resources
For those interested in diving deeper into the features and benefits surrounding passbolt and KeePass, we’ve curated a list of valuable resources:
Passbolt Lore (Part 1): The Genesis
Learn how passbolt originated as a solution to enhance collaboration in KeePass and its journey since then.
Importing from KeePass
Follow our guide on how to import passwords from KeePass into Passbolt and get started with ease.
Import keepass file with kdbx entries containing undefined fields