Building a Self Hosted Password Manager Using Passbolt

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Building a Self Hosted Password Manager Using Passbolt

How to Building a Self Hosted Password Manager Using Passbolt ? In this digital era, the proliferation of password hacking cases has become a concern faced by many people. In response, many individuals have started using complex and hard-to-remember passwords. However, the complexity of these passwords often leads to other problems, such as difficulty in remembering the passwords used.

This has led to the emergence of password management applications, such as LastPass, Bitwarden, KeePass, and others. However, concerns about the security of user data stored by these password management service providers have also become an issue.

To address this, Passbolt has emerged as an open-source password management application that allows users to build their own password manager on their infrastructure.


In this tutorial, we will learn together how to build a password manager using Passbolt on Cloud Raya.

Features of Passbolt

According to the plan-comparison page of Passbolt, Passbolt consists of several plans, with its free version being the Community Plan.

The essential features of the Community Plan are:

  • Can be hosted on your own server
  • Passwords management
  • Users and groups management
  • Detailed password sharing
  • Multi Factor Authentication (MFA)
  • Import / export (csv, xls, kdbx)
  • Browser extensions & CLI
  • Mobile apps (iOS & Android)
  • Community support

Alternatively, you can also refer to the plan-comparison link above for further details.

Pre-installation Self hosted password

Password Manager Using Passbolt

Passbolt can be easily installed through package repositories provided by Passbolt itself for various types of systems, ranging from conventional systems like Debian, Ubuntu, and others to containerized systems like Docker. Additionally, Passbolt can also be installed from scratch

In this tutorial, we will use the popular installation method recommended, which is through the Debian package repository.


Here are the system prerequisites recommended by Passbolt::

  • 2 Cores CPU dan 2GB RAM
  • Debian server with at least version 11.
  • Domain name or host pointing to your server, or at least accessible via a static IP address.
  • Functioning SMTP server for email notifications.
  • NTP service functioning to avoid GPG authentication issues.
  • It’s important to use a vanilla server (fresh without pre-installed services or tools) because the Passbolt installation script could potentially disrupt existing data on your server.
  • If you plan to provide an SSL certificate manually, it’s advisable to do so before starting the Passbolt installation.

Installation of Package Repository

Now SSH into the Cloud Raya VM, and let’s download the installation script from the provided Passbolt package repository that needs to be installed first (like NGINX, Haveged, Certbot). Use the following wget command:

wget “https://download.passbolt.com/ce/installer/passbolt-repo-setup.ce.sh”

Next, download the checksum for the installation script mentioned before to ensure that the file is intact and not corrupted.

wget https://github.com/passbolt/passbolt-dep-scripts/releases/latest/download/passbolt-ce-SHA512SUM.txt

Run the following command to check its checksum. If it’s okay, execute the passbolt-repo-setup.

sha512sum -c passbolt-ce-SHA512SUM.txt && sudo bash ./passbolt-repo-setup.ce.sh || echo \”Bad checksum. Aborting\” && rm -f passbolt-repo-setup.ce.sh

Install Passbolt CE Edition

Okay, if the Passbolt repository setup is completed, now we can install the Passbolt CE edition. Use the following command:

sudo apt install passbolt-ce-server

During the installation process, several “Package Configuration” dialogs will appear regarding the configuration of the Passbolt supporting packages.

▶️ MySQL Configuration

 

Manager Using Passbolt

First, configure to create an empty MySQL database to be used by Passbolt.


Next, you’ll be asked to enter the admin user credentials for MySQL to create the Passbolt database. By default, the MySQL admin user usually uses the root account and an empty password. Fill in these credentials.

Building a Self Hosted Password Manager Using Passbolt

Following that, you’ll be asked to create a new MySQL user with limited permissions, specifically for managing the Passbolt database only (for the integrity and security of all our other database collections, of course). 

These credentials will be required later in the final Passbolt configuration, so remember them.

Finally, enter the name of the Passbolt database you’ll create.

▶️ NGINX Webserver Configuration and HTTPS Accommodation

 

Next is the configuration of NGINX as the webserver for Passbolt and the HTTPS setup for more secure transactions on the Passbolt website.


There are 3 SSL setup options provided:

  • "none" defers SSL configuration at this step.
  • "manual" allows us to input SSL Keys that we already possess.
  • "auto" uses Letsencrypt.org to provide SSL Keys for our Passbolt domain.

In this tutorial, we’ll use the “auto” method as it’s simpler. But if you already have SSL Keys from your SSL provider, use the “manual” option following these steps

Enter the domain name where you’ll run Passbolt.

Input the administrative email for your domain. This email is needed by Letsencrypt to send notifications if the certificate is nearing expiration.

▶️ Finalization

 

Building a Self Hosted Password Manager Using Passbolt

When the finalization process is complete, the following message will be displayed, and we can start configuring Passbolt before using it.

Passbolt Configuration

Now open a browser and enter the domain where we previously configured Passbolt. You’ll be directed to the "Getting Started" page. 

▶️ System Check

 

The first configuration page will inform you if the server environment is ready for Passbolt or not. Resolve any issues and click Start Configuration if there are none.

▶️ Database

 

The next page will configure which database we’ll use for Passbolt.


Fill in the following:

  • "Hostname": Enter the hostname to access the database. If following this tutorial where the database is placed on the same local system as Passbolt, you can enter localhost or 127.0.0.1
  • "Port 3306": Input the port number used for MySQL.
    Make sure to have opened ACL in the VPC menu for TCP protocol port 3306. For details on opening specific ports in VPC, check the following tutorial.
  • "Username and Password": Enter the credentials for the Passbolt database user created in the previous step.
  • "Database Name": Enter the Passbolt database name created earlier.

▶️ Server Keys

 

Building a Self Hosted Password Manager Using Passbolt

On this page, you can create a new key or import an existing GPG key pair. During the login process, the GPG key is used to ensure that login messages sent by users can only be read by the Passbolt API server, and vice versa, the token messages sent by the Passbolt API server can only be read by legitimate users.

To create new, fill in the provided form.

▶️ Options

 

Next is the “Options” page, where we’re asked to fill in the “Full base URL” of our Passbolt system; usually, this field gets auto-filled.

Then, there’s the “Force SSL” option, where the Passbolt system will not accept connections from visitors using HTTP. For better security, select Yes, especially since we configured SSL in the previous step.

▶️ Emails

 

On this page, you can enter the details of your SMTP account and server so that Passbolt can send notifications via email.

On the right-hand side, there’s a “Send test email” feature where you can check if your SMTP configuration is correct. A successful test email sent indicates the configuration is correct.

▶️ First User

 

On this page, create the first user admin for this Passbolt system. Enter the details as desired.

▶️ Installation

 

After collecting several inputs, Passbolt will now finalize its configuration process. Wait for a while.

Administrator Account Configuration

After the configuration process is complete, we can now start accessing the main system of Passbolt. However, there are a few final steps to take.

▶️ Download Passbolt plugin

 

Similar to other Password managers, Passbolt also requires us to install its plugin into the browser we’re using. Click Download Extension and then add it to your browser.

▶️ Create Administrator Key

 

Passbolt will ask us to create or import a key that will be used to identify us and encrypt our collection of passwords. This key must also be protected by a password.

In this step, create a passphrase that you’ll always need for administrator-related Passbolt system activities. So, make sure to remember it.

▶️ Download Recovery Kit

 

Building a Self Hosted Password Manager Using Passbolt

This step is crucial, where the key you created earlier will be vital to access your account. If you lose this key for any reason, the Passbolt panel won’t be accessible even if you remember the password.

So, in this step, Passbolt will provide a Recovery Kit as a backup of the key you created. Make sure to store it in a secure place. 

▶️ Create Security Token

 

In this final step, you’re asked to select a color and a three-character token, which is an additional security mechanism from Passbolt to help reduce the risk of phishing attacks. Whenever sensitive operations are performed in Passbolt, you’ll be asked to input this token as verification.

▶️ Success and Access Passbolt Panel

 

Now that the Administrator account configuration is complete, you’ll be taken to the Passbolt panel page.

Conclusion

From this article, it can be concluded that using Passbolt is a suitable choice for those who want to manage passwords securely, effectively, and efficiently. With Passbolt, you can install it on your own infrastructure, providing a higher level of security for stored password data.

Passbolt offers comprehensive features, including import-export capabilities, allowing users who have a lot of password data stored in other password managers to switch to Passbolt easily without needing to input each password manually.

With password management capabilities on mobile devices, users can organize and access passwords from anywhere. Passbolt also enables users to manage access rights and share passwords with teams or colleagues, facilitating collaboration within a team.

Visit our other tutorials on our knowledge base page. Alternatively, you can also visit the Cloud Raya Youtube channel. 

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