A couple of months after unveiling Proton Pass, Proton — the company behind end-to-end encrypted email service Proton Mail — is officially launching its password manager to everyone. As a reminder, Proton Pass is an end-to-end encrypted password manager for individuals and (soon) families.
Everybody should use a password manager as it helps you use a different, sophisticated password for every website and service where you have an account. This way, when a service faces a data breach, your online accounts remain relatively safe. You can change your password on the targeted site and move on.
There are several options when it comes to password managers. Some enterprise-grade password managers like 1Password and Dashlane offer many features, such as the ability to store documents and receive security alerts when there’s a new data breach that could affect you.
Web browsers, such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, also have their own built-in password managers. They are more limited than dedicated products, but they are free. Apple’s operating systems (macOS, iOS, etc.) also offer a built-in password manager that works really well for people who like Apple’s ecosystem.
I played around with a beta version of Proton Pass, and it offers all the basic features that you would expect from a password manager. It’s available as a browser extension on desktop (Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Brave) and the company also has mobile apps for iOS and Android.
When you browse the web on desktop, Proton Pass takes over from the default password manager in your browser. For instance, if you sign in to your email account, Proton Pass will prompt you to save your credentials in Proton’s password manager. If you create a new account, Proton Pass can generate a unique password for you.
On the iPhone, Proton Pass can be used to autofill passwords in Safari and mobile apps. Your logins and passwords are automatically synchronized across devices.
Everything you store in Proton Pass is end-to-end encrypted, including passwords (obviously), but also email addresses, URLs and notes. Proton itself cannot decrypt your user data as they don’t have your user key.
The company plans to open source Proton Pass so that security experts can verify the security model. There will be security audits, security reports and a bug bounty program as well.
In addition to login information, Proton Pass users can store generation codes for one-time passwords so that the password manager can become their two-factor authenticator. Users can also create notes for sensitive information that aren’t related to online services, such as credit card information and Social Security numbers.
Proton Pass is the result of the acquisition of SimpleLogin, an email alias startup, as the SimpleLogin team worked on Proton Pass. Proton is taking advantage of SimpleLogin’s existing product as users can create email aliases if they don’t want to share their real email address. Incoming emails are redirected to their Proton Mail inbox. If you don’t need that alias anymore, you can delete it and the email alias will stop working.
Overall, Proton Pass doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of 1Password, but it’s a solid password manager. A native desktop app would be nice. Credit card autofilling would be useful too. But the basic version of Proton Pass is free with support for multiple devices.
Users can also get a premium subscription, which includes unlimited email aliases instead of 10 and the two-factor authentication feature I mentioned earlier. It will soon also include the ability to create shared vaults so that users can safely share passwords with family members and friends. If you’re already a Proton subscriber, the premium features for Proton Pass are included in Proton’s Unlimited and Family plans. Otherwise, the premium version of Proton Pass will cost $2.99 to $4.99 per month based on the subscription length.
If you are using Proton Mail as your main email address, Proton Pass could be particularly compelling, as the email alias feature integrates seamlessly with your Proton Mail email address. Proton Pass could also quickly become a way to attract new users to the Proton ecosystem with its free offering. The company recently surpassed 100 million user accounts.