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How to use Bitwarden Identities to secure your most sensitive data

The Bitwarden open-source password manager offers features you might not know you needed, including this handy option for protecting specific information.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
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Andrew Brookes/Getty Images

Bitwarden allows you to store all types of information. You can store the obvious username/password entries, as well as secure notes, and credit cards. All of that data is encrypted in your vault until you unlock it with either your master password, PIN, or biometric (such as via a fingerprint scanner or facial recognition). 

But there's another type of entry you can add to the Bitwarden password manager and it's one you probably didn't even know you needed to use.

Also: The best password managers to save you from login hassle

That entry is called an Identity, which can include a name, contact information, address, Social Security number, passport number, license number, email, notes, custom fields, and more. As you can see, some of those bits of information are particularly sensitive-- particularly Social Security and passport numbers.

You wouldn't want to save those details in a standard contact manager, where anyone who has access to your desktop or laptop could view the information. With a Social Security number in the hands of the wrong person, bad things could happen.

So, if you need to keep particularly sensitive details about a person, you'll want to use Bitwarden's Identities feature. However, even when using Identities, if you want to add Social Security and passport numbers, you might take an extra step to hide them from plain sight. (I'll show you how.)

Let's see how to create an identity.

How to use Bitwarden Identities to secure sensitive data

What you'll need: The only thing you'll need is a valid Bitwarden account. Since Identities is part of the core functionality, this feature works with both the free and paid plans. I'll demonstrate this on the desktop app, but it works with the mobile and web versions in the same way.

1. Open Bitwarden

The first thing to do is open Bitwarden and unlock your vault. With the vault unlocked, click + near the bottom center to create a new item.

The Bitwarden main window.

Identities are an important feature of Bitwarden that you should be using.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Create a new identity

In the right pane, select Identity from the Type drop-down, which will change all of the available fields to match the type of item you're creating. Fill out all of the necessary information. If you want to better protect the Social Security and passport numbers, don't fill them in their respective text areas (we'll create them as custom fields).

The Identity type selected for use in Bitwarden.

Make sure to select Identity from the Type drop-down before you add any information to the new item.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Also: Bitwarden rolls out passkeys management to all users, including free accounts

3. Add a custom field for the Social Security number

Scroll down until you see the Custom Fields section. From the drop-down, select Hidden and then click +. You can then type Social Security Number in the Name field and the person's Social Security number in the Value field. 

Adding a new Hidden custom field.

Select Hidden so you can make use of the Master Password re-prompt.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Enable Password Re-prompt

Before you save the identity, scroll up until you see the Master Password Re-prompt option, Click the checkbox to enable this. After taking care of that, make sure you've filled out everything necessary for the identity and then click the save icon at the bottom.

The Bitwarden master password re-prompt enable button.

To keep Hidden custom fields hidden, you must make use of the Master Password re-prompt.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Also: How to enable Bitwarden biometric unlock 

Congratulations, you've just created your first Bitwarden Identity. Use these for contacts that require the storing of sensitive information that you don't want to make available to a standard contact app and you'll better protect those identities from ne'er do wells.

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