Share WiFi passwords via QR codes and NFC

This would be useful for all passwords, but it would be especially useful for WiFi passwords because they are shared more often than any other kind of password, and sharing them has unique challenges.

No internet without WiFi

WiFi passwords cannot be shared over the internet because you don’t get an internet connection until after you join the network. At least not unless:

People who don’t have those things are force to type the password manually.

¹ I always join new networks on my phone first for this reason. I then create a hotspot to sync the password to my other devices if they need it.

How Bitwarden could help

A visitor to at your house asks to join your WiFi network. On your phone you would…

  1. Bring up the Bitwarden app and find the login in question.
  2. Press a button to “display QR code” or “prepare NFC transfer”. [Transfer takes place…]
  3. Enter the vistor’s name in the item notes as a reminder that they know this password.

Meanwhile, on their phone…

  1. They open the Bitwarden app and press a button to start scanning or listening for NFC requests.
  2. They scan the QR code, or hold their phone next to mine to facilitate NFC transfer.
  3. The password is copied to the clipboard (to allow them to join the network now) and stored in their vault (so they don’t have to ask again when they want to connect their laptop).

If I later decide that I don’t want this person on my WiFi network then I simply change my WiFi password. Other guests can be given the new password using the same method as before.

Handling future connections

In addition to sharing the current password to enable immediate connection, the QR code or NFC transfer could act as a handshake to add the visitor you your WiFi organization. This would give them access not only to the current password, but to all future passwords (at least until this person is removed from the WiFi organisation). An automatic transfer avoids the need to type their email address, which is little better than having type a password, and can be used offline.

Connecting to public WiFi

Cafes and bars could print Bitwarden QR codes and stick them on their walls to enable customers to join secure WiFi networks without having to type a password.

There should be no need of the BW app on the visitor’s phone, at least not if you use QR codes. There is a type of QR code that is made to share wifi passwords, see an example here : https://wifiqrcode.net/ - I can scan it with my phone and it asks me if I want to join the network.

But otherwise I like the idea of being able to generate this type of QR code directly from BW apps, this allows for easy sharing!

It would indeed be great if Bitwarden could generate those QR codes! Websites like https://wifiqrcode.net/ solve the business case, but I can’t see many home users bothering unless the generator is built-in to a tool that they are already using to store their WiFi password.

According to Wikipedia, the encoded string takes this form:

WIFI:S:<SSID>;T:<WPA|WEP|>;P:<password>;H:<true|false|>;

Bitwarden could extend this to provide:

  • A meaningful name to use for this item in the user’s vault (e.g. “Shoogle’s house”)
    • SSIDs can be cryptic (e.g. “D-LINK_9384”) so it’s best to use them as the “username” rather than “name”.
  • (optional) A proprietary token to tie that QR Code to my Bitwarden account.
    • This would enable the client to send a request to Bitwarden’s server to become a member of my WiFi Organisation.

Getting the code into the client’s vault is important to enable them to connect other devices for which QR codes are less convenient, such as laptops. It should be possible to add this extra information without breaking the codes for non-Bitwarden users.